Abraham Joshua Heschel

Doris Donnelly and John Pawlikowski interview Susannah Heschel on the occasion of what would have been the one hundredth birthday of her late father, Abraham Joshua Heschel. “Lovingly Observant,” is the title of the article in America.

Many Seventh-day Adventists love his book, The Sabbath (See this extract on the Sabbath as “a sanctuary in time”). In the interview, Susannah tells of how it was kept in the Heschel home:

I have written about this in the preface to the new edition of The Sabbath, which is to be published soon. There are some helpful Sabbath laws—the shutting out of secular demands and refraining from work. In enumerating the categories that constitute “work,” the Mishnah presents types of activities necessary to build technological civilization. My father went further. Not only is it forbidden to light a fire on the Sabbath, but, he wrote, “Ye shall kindle no fire—not even the fire of righteous indignation.” In our home, certain topics were avoided on the Sabbath (politics, the Holocaust, the war in Vietnam) while others were emphasized. Observing the Sabbath is not only about refraining from work, but about creating menuha, a restfulness that is also a celebration. The Sabbath is a day for body as well as soul. It is a sin to be sad on the Sabbath, a lesson my father often repeated and always observed.

Susannah has a chapter in J. Shawn Landres and Michael Berenbaum, After The Passion Is Gone: American Religious Consequences (Alta Mira, 2004), to which I also contributed. (Buy the book!)