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Contextual information for the exhibition Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational (Nov 12, 2017–Feb 25, 2018)

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972) was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the twentieth century. Heschel, a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, authored a number of widely read books on Jewish philosophy and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. The quotes below are taken from his inspirational book entitled The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (1951). 


There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.



Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. There are no two hours alike. Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.


Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.


Sanctify the Sabbath by choice meals, by beautiful garments, delight your soul with pleasure and I will reward you for this very pleasure.


The seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all. It is not a date but an atmosphere.


The Sabbath is no time for personal anxiety or care, for any activity that might dampen the spirit of joy. The Sabbath is no time to remember sins, to confess, to repent or even to pray for relief or anything we might need. It is a day for praise, not a day for petitions. Fasting, mourning, demonstrations of grief are forbidden.


One must be overawed by the marvel of time to be ready to perceive the presence of eternity in a single moment. One must live and act as if the fate of all of time would depend on a single moment.


The world of space surrounds our existence. It is but a part of living, the rest is time. Things are the short, the voyage is in time.


Creation is the language of God, Time is His song, and things of space the consonants in the song. To sanctify time is to sing the vowels in unison with Him.


― Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath


Abraham Joshua Heschel. The Sabbath. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951.


Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. An endowed sponsorship for this exhibition was created by George Saxe, z”l, in honor of Dorothy R. Saxe. Major support has been provided by Phyllis Cook and Wendy Kesser. Supporting Sponsorship is provided by Robert and Judy Aptekar.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum thanks The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for its lead sponsorship of The Museum’s exhibition program.

Image Credit

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash