Keeping Shabbat the Progressive Way

Once a year, usually mid-November, a special Shabbat is announced. The so called Shabbat Project should inspire Jews around the globe to keep Shabbat. But what does it mean “to keep Shabbat“?

Technically, the laws of Shabbat can seem draconian. There are thirty-nine official “dont‘s,” and they each have subcategories that add hundreds more. One cannot mow the lawn, hunt for food, light a fire, plant a seed, cook food, boil water, sew on a button, erect a tent, use a hammer, bake a cake, or gather kindling.

Derived from these ancient laws, a host of modern restrictions has been added by scholars, so now it is forbidden [according to Orthodox interpretation of the law] to turn on a computer, drive a car, flick on a light switch, talk on the phone, replace a battery, or watch television. The list is a long one. Conservative rabbis [in the US] prohibit many of these same activities, but the level of observance among the Conservative Jews is not as widespread as it is among the Orthodox.

Progressive rabbis, for the most part, say that these ancient restrictions are no longer binding or enjoy the same priority as ethical laws that may stand in conflict with the traditional Shabbat restrictions (such as visiting or calling family members or friends). However, Progressive Judaism doesn‘t deny that one can find meaning in the restrictions and should try to incorporate them into one‘s religious lives.

But how? And which? And why?

Join Brett Steingo for a conversation
this Shabbat after the brocha @ 11.45 for 12.00

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