Keeping the Sabbath in a Non-Sabbath World
Stocks Close Mixed, Sabbath Up 2 Points In Heavy Trading

On Thursday, July 17, 1986, the Sabbath became business news. The front page of the Wall Street Journal, the renowned business daily, carried a feature story, "Delicate Balance: Keeping the Sabbath and a Worldly Career Tests Religious Jews."

Shomer Shabbat

The subject of the news story was the 500,000 or 600,000 American Jews, mostly Orthodox, who strictly observe the Sabbath. They are a minority of a minority, for 5 million of their fellow Jews do not have the same scruples as the Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observers).

As these Sabbath-keepers plunge into the American mainstream business world, their religious dedication is being tested, as well as the willingness of the majority to tolerate the religious practices of the few.

Never Forget the Sabbath

Wall Street Journal reporter Selwyn Feinstein describes several observant Jews, including Yoni Mozeson, whose father and grandfather are orthodox rabbis. Yoni writes copy for a Madison Avenue advertising agency, but is nevertheless true to his forebears. In the winter, Mozeson leaves work on Fridays as early as 3 p.m. to be home with his wife before sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath. He takes off as many as 13 days a year for Jewish holidays, leaving work early on the days before. His adherence to Bible dietary laws limits what he can eat with clients and colleagues. Mozeson states, "I never forget I'm a Jew living in a non-Jewish society

Pioneering Jewish Sabbath-keepers

For generations, many strict Jews shunned the outside world. Jewish professionals served other Jews. Since the 1950's and 1960's, this has been dramatically changing. Many Jews began attending Ivy League colleges, where they were successful in getting kosher kitchens and alternatives to Saturday classes and exams, making it easier for other Sabbath-keepers to follow in their path.

Sabbath observant Jewish women have particular difficulties. They must leave work earlier to prepare Sabbath and holiday meals. Because of their religious convictions, a Shomer Shabbat woman may interrupt her career to care for a baby.

Most Sabbath-keeping Jews stay in the big cities where there are other Jews to share religious and social life, and yeshivas, or religious schools for rabbis.

How To Keep the Sabbath and Not Lose One's Job

As the Journal states, "Most problems [of Sabbath observance] can be handled by deft planning and a willingness to make up for missed time." Frederick Lawrence, as an assistant U.S. Attorney, works "plenty of Saturday nights and Sundays" to catch up with work left over from early Friday departures and other religious days off. A Sabbath-observing lawyer advises, "you have to make people aware that you're going to be gone."

Dietary restrictions can be as easily handled. A Shomer Shabbat account coordinator keeps kosher at client lunches by ordering a green salad or fruit plate. A traveling metallurgist buys tuna from a store and turns in a low expense account

A Test of Religious Conviction

Many non-Jewish employers are learning to accommodate the religious practices of today's pioneering Sabbath-observant Jews. Some older Jews are fearful that the expansion of Jews into the business mainstream is a threat to the Jewish religion. They believe many of these Jews will gradually give up their Sabbath-keeping in order to compete in the business world.

"The real test," says Samuel Heilman, a professor of sociology at Queens College," is whether their children continue to be orthodox."

Constant Vigilance

The Wall Street Journal is to be commended for carrying such an informative, thought provoking article.

I am a Messianic "Shomer Shabbat," who works in the daily business world of a large corporation. I say hats off to the half million Jews who honor the Eternal's Sabbath. Sometimes I too fear that business will lead me away from the Sabbath. Would it be possible for me some Friday to "forget" the Sabbath and stay late working on a "crash project"? Yes indeed, it could happen. The answer is, as the Jews say, "constant vigilance." We must NEVER forget we are Messianic Sabbath-keepers living in a non-Sabbath-keeping world

Delicate Balance

There are probably close to half a million non-Jewish Sabbath-keepers in the United States. Seventh-Day Adventists, Worldwide Church of God, Church of God 7th Day, Seventh Day Baptists, Sacred Name, Independents, etc. "The world" is contrary to the Sabbath. Messianic Sabbath-keepers' convictions are being tested no less than those of Jewish Shomer Shabbat.

It is a profound truth that people generally are reasonable. A hard-working employee who is an asset to the company, who plans skillfully and is willing to make up for missed time, can usually stay Shomer Shabbat and employed. The employer knows that a good employee increases the company's profit. Five or six days from one hard worker is better than six or seven days from a lazy one. Let people know where you stand, in a positive way, and they will usually respect you for it.

The Journal hit the nail on the head. It is a delicate balance, to not let the cares of the business world choke one's religious convictions, and especially Sabbath observance. We need to be aware of this, and be lights illuminating this world of spiritual darkness.

The real test is whether children of Shomer Shabbat will continue to be Sabbath-keepers. Will Sabbath-keepers be diligent enough to properly train their children in the Eternal's ways

Kalal Shabbat

Unfortunately, there are many Sabbath "keepers" who have watered down the Sabbath. They are like the Reform Jews mentioned in the Journal article who wanted to pay a young Jewish singer to perform for Saturday afternoon parties, but the strict Sabbath-keeping woman and her colleagues would not work on the Sabbath. Jews who take the Sabbath so lightly give the Sabbath a bad name.

Shomer means "keeper" (Strong's #7763, from #8104 shamar "to guard, protect, attend to, be circumspect, take heed, observe, preserve, regard, (lay) wait (for), watch." All these words should describe the way we feel about the Sabbath.

The word kalal (Strong's #2490, 2491) has the opposite meaning: "pollute, profane, to wound, to dissolve, to break, to begin (as if by an 'opening wedge'), defile, prostitute, slay." Eight times this word is used in Ezekiel 20 to describe the pollution of the Holy Sabbath by the Almighty's own people. Another word, tame, (#2930), means "contaminated, defile, pollute, make unclean" and is used three times in the same chapter.

Don't follow the five million American Jews who water down and pollute the Sabbath. Be a Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath Observer), not a Kalal Shabbat (Sabbath Polluter). Keep the Sabbath, and the Eternal will keep you!

Additional Articles:

Why the Sabbath is Important, Part 1
When Does Your Sabbath Begin?
Keeping the Sabbath in a Non-Sabbath World
The Sabbath and Ecology
How to Keep the Sabbath Holy
The Sabbath and Service
The Truth About Sabbath and Sunday
The Good News of the Sabbath
Sabbath Facts
Jubilee and the Sabbath Year
The Sabbath: A Divisive Issue?
A History of the Saturday Resurrection Doctrine Among Sabbath-Keepers
Chronology of the Crucifixion and Resurrection According to Ancient Texts
A Look at The Pope's Pastoral Letter, "Dies Domini"
Review: The Sabbath Under Crossfire
Sabbath Quiz
Main Holy Day Menu


Written by: Richard C. Nickels
Giving & Sharing
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