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2. Keep the Sabbath

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2. Keep the Sabbath

fschmidt
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This post was updated on .
Keeping the Sabbath is one the ten commandments and is the most frequently mentioned commandment in the Old Testament.

Mikraites reject the Talmudic rules for the Sabbath.  But we also reject the Reform view of throwing out all rules.  We find this Karaite interpretation of the Sabbath to be reasonable.  The basic point of the Sabbath is to rest and keep it holy.  If you do this sincerely using common sense, you should be fine.  If in doubt, post your questions to this forum and we can discuss them.

The Old Testament does not say which day of the week to keep the Sabbath, but it does say that the Sabbath should be from one sunset to the sunset on the following day.


Because God is reasonable, we should be able to understand why we have the Sabbath and why it is so important.  Let me suggest a list of reasons:

- The Sabbath provides rest and peace.
- The Sabbath provides time to read the Old Testament.
- The Sabbath teaches one to organize one's time and to be punctual.
- The Sabbath teaches self-discipline.
- The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of God.

That the Sabbath provides rest and peace is obvious and is stated in the Old Testament.  What isn't stated is that it provides time for things like reading the Old Testament, studying religion, and introspection.  This time away from the rat race is essential for developing depth and character.

Because the Sabbath starts at a well defined time, one is forced to finish one's tasks before that time.  This teaches people to organize their time and to be punctual.  This is an essential skill for a responsible person.  And doing this also teaches self-discipline, and self-discipline is the key to making morality work because without self-discipline, people will not be moral.  So morality requires a regular exercise in self-discipline, and the Sabbath provides this.

Of course the Sabbath is a weekly reminder of God and religion which is critical for religion.

The reasons that I just provided are my reasoning, which one can say is nothing more than speculation.  Do I have any evidence to back up my ideas?  Yes, in fact Christian history provides the best evidence for the Sabbath because Sabbath observance so greatly varied over Christian history.  What we find is that Christianity prospered when it kept the Sabbath and Christianity declined when it did not.  This is documented in the excellent Christian book "The Holy Sabbath" by Arthur W. Pink which can be found on Amazon or on the Web.  From this book:

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To employ a rather different figure. The blessings which God has promised unto men—blessings both temporal and spiritual—flow most freely along the particular channels which He has Himself appointed. Contrariwise, if those channels be forsaken, then the blessings will also be forfeited. Now since the Sabbath is the day which the Lord has set apart for the communication of special blessing, then it is obvious that those blessings will be enjoyed in greatest measure by those who are the sincerest and strictest in its sacred observance. This is a fact which is capable of the clearest verification. Organized Christianity has been here for 1,900 years and during that lengthy span it has experienced many vicissitudes, passing through periods of prosperity on the one hand and of adversity on the other, of light and purity and darkness and impurity, of spiritual energy and of spiritual torpor.

Now it can be plainly shown from the chronicles of history that there has been to a very striking degree an unmistakable correspondence in those periods between the observance of Sabbath sanctity and the spiritual prosperity of the churches on the one hand and the neglect of the Sabbath’s sanctity and spiritual declension of the churches on the other. In this we may also see parallels with the varied experiences of the nation of Israel in Old Testament times.
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And this can be seen vividly in American history.  The Puritans were the Christians who most completely kept the Sabbath, and they passed this legacy to America where the Sabbath was strictly enforced until modern times.  So this is another example of correlation between Sabbath observance and rising culture.  To give an idea of what the American Sabbath looked like, here is Alexis de Tocqueville's report from the mid-1800s:

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In the United States, on the seventh day of every week, the trading and working life of the nation seems suspended; all noises cease; a deep tranquility, say rather the solemn calm of meditation, succeeds the turmoil of the week, and the soul resumes possession and contemplation of itself. Upon this day the marts of traffic are deserted; every member of the community, accompanied by his children, goes to church, where he listens to strange language which would seem unsuited to his ear. He is told of the countless evils caused by pride and covetousness: he is reminded of the necessity of checking his desires, of the finer pleasures which belong to virtue alone, and of the true happiness which attends it. On his return home, he does not turn to the ledgers of his calling, but he opens the book of Holy Scripture; there he meets with sublime or affecting descriptions of the greatness and goodness of the Creator, of the infinite magnificence of the handiwork of God, of the lofty destinies of man, of his duties, and of his immortal privileges. Thus it is that the American at times steals an hour from himself; and laying aside for a while the petty passions which agitate his life, and the ephemeral interests which engross it, he strays at once into an ideal world, where all is great, eternal, and pure.
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http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tocqueville/alexis/democracy/book2.2.html#book2.2.15

When Christians kept the Sabbath, they were moral.  When Christians stopped keeping the Sabbath, they became immoral.  This well illustrates the moral importance of the Sabbath.
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Re: 1. Keep the Sabbath

Peter
fschmidt wrote
and laying aside for a while the petty passions which agitate his life, and the ephemeral interests which engross it, he strays at once into an ideal world, where all is great, eternal, and pure.
seems keeping the sabbath is easier said than done, as most people have many hobbies that they can only find time to do during the sabbath days while they engage in the busy working life during the rest of the week. The only incentive here, is that it would be easier if the people around you keep the sabbath. If not, this task, especially in modern America, would be very difficult.
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Re: 1. Keep the Sabbath

fschmidt
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Peter wrote
seems keeping the sabbath is easier said than done, as most people have many hobbies that they can only find time to do during the sabbath days while they engage in the busy working life during the rest of the week.
I think most hobbies should be fine during the sabbath, especially those done at home.  Can you give me a specific example of a hobby?  Also, we have a 2 day weekend, so even those hobbies that don't work on sabbath can be done on the other weekend day.
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Re: 1. Keep the Sabbath

Peter
well, archery is one of my hobbies. sometimes that involve (primitive style)fletching arrows which involves working with tools and driving to the range and shoot. thats a lot of manual labor and it consumes time.

so do hobbies that involve extensive manual labor consider as work which will break the sabbath?  
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Re: 1. Keep the Sabbath

fschmidt
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I am not sure if this violates the sabbath, but anyway, why not have a Saturday sabbath and do this hobby on Sunday?
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Re: 1. Keep the Sabbath

qwerty
A few hypothetical questions:

-What if someone has a job that requires them to work seven days a week? This is not relevant to me, as my current job does not require me to work on weekends, but I am asking the question hypothetically, since I know that a lot of low-wage workers, as well as some white-collar workers have unpredictable schedules where they are required to be available whenever it is necessary. Should one avoid taking such a job entirely, or claim a religious exemption to try to get out of working on the Sabbath? Or would it be possible for a person with a such a job to not have an official 24-hour period of rest, and to try to break the Sabbath into smaller pieces interspersed throughout the week?

-To what extent is religious studying or contemplation important for the Sabbath? Should Mikraites try to read from the Old Testament during the Sabbath regardless of their faith, or is this not important?

-To what extent is academic studying okay during the Sabbath? The Karaite article suggested that reading a book for pleasure is okay but not reading a book out of necessity because one has to write a paper on it by Monday. If I were reading a book or writing a paper for a class on the Sabbath but enjoyed doing so, would this be acceptable? Or if I were writing a paper on the Sabbath but was writing it way before the deadline to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, would this be acceptable?

-Should Mikraites refrain from engaging in activities on the Sabbath that are not work but do not refresh the soul either? For example, I tend to spend a lot of time browsing the internet on Saturdays, and I probably could be doing more fulfilling things such as reading or playing music. Would it be a good idea to limit the amount of time that I spend on the internet, or is this not important?
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Re: 1. Keep the Sabbath

fschmidt
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I think someone who has to work seven days a week is like a slave, and our religion is for free people.  So we should work with this person to help free him from slavery so that he can keep the sabbath.  But if he prefers slavery, then he probably isn't a good fit.

I don't think religious studying or contemplation is that important for the sabbath.  Doing "fulfilling things such as reading or playing music" is encouraged, but you shouldn't feel obliged to do it.  The basic idea is that after doing worthless things like browsing the internet for a few sabbaths, you will realize how boring this really is and will start to turn to more meaningful things.

I would say that doing any work for school, not matter how enjoyable, is not acceptable for the sabbath because part of the motivation is a later concrete payoff.  You should be detached from practical things on the sabbath.
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