Christians Try to Get Their Sabbath Back

Nov. 21 2014

Due to economic and technological changes, Sundays are ceasing to be the day of rest they once were for most Americans, regardless of religious affiliation. In response, there has been renewed interest among Christian thinkers in reviving and restoring Sabbath observance—something Jews never lost. Benjamin J. Dueholm writes:

Foreshadowed in the creation story, God’s command to rest sets Israel apart from the Exodus onward. It is a costly command. The people, their foreign residents, and even the animals must rest. The land must rest. The widow must be released from her debt—at least for the length of a night’s sleep—and from the incessant demand to work in repaying it. Isaiah rails against the abuse of the Sabbath to gain competitive advantage, which undermines the ability of anyone to enjoy rest. This mandated idleness—15 percent of life—was so costly that it had to be general and it had to be enforced with fierce penalties. But these costs all underscore the drastic, unyielding, world-shaking claim that life—even the life of an ox—is in some sense its own end and not an instrument. Idleness is sacred in the Bible because it identifies the world with a living God whose greatest gift is rest and who rescued the people from slavery in a land where no rest was allowed. . . .

“The Sabbath,” writes Abraham Joshua Heschel, “is a day for the sake of life.” And this tradition—Heschel calls it a “palace in time”—that Judaism fought so hard to preserve set up outposts in the rest of life. These outposts are what the war on leisure is dismantling. And churches—by hoping, urging, or demanding that the faithful cut back on their commitment to travel hockey leagues—risk becoming mere bystanders. The ethos of the Sabbath goes much deeper than an individual commitment to prioritize worship. It includes all of those sacred practices, both affirmations and prohibitions, that have been kept alive in Judaism and are being fitfully recovered by Christians.

Read more at Christian Century

More about: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Christianity, Judaism, Shabbat

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy