Journey to a Temple in Time
A Philosopher's Quest for the Sabbath
Susan Pashman's Journey to a Temple in Time is not only a moving and powerful chronicle of her own search for the contemporary relevance of the Sabbath. It is also a urgently needed road-map to expand our understanding and to deepen our spiritual practice. For skeptics and seekers alike, Pashman invites us to reconsider how one of the most foundational Jewish observances can enhance our over-programmed lives.
Rabbi Leon A. Morris, President, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
Susan Pashman beckons us into the meaning and mystical beauty of Shabbat, filling us with longing for the glow of candles, of nights warmed by wine and song and fragrant challah; dear loves and new friends around the table; eyes lit up by the wisdom of Torah. Whether you are new to exploring what Shabbat might be in your life, or you are ready to be re-inspired to deepen your Shabbat practice, Journey to a Temple in Time will bring you there.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Congregation Beth Elohim, New York
Presented as a diary of a year-long search, this book explores Sabbath-keeping from the point of view of a doubting Jew trying to make sense of what has become a quaint, obsolete practice. Although the book relies upon centuries of philosophical thought, it is accessible, direct, and often humorous, aimed at others who, like Susan Pashman, cannot blindly ‘obey,’ but who demand a sensible basis for their practices.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. What does this mean? And why is it a moral obligation, ranked high on a list of commandments that includes refraining from murder, lying, cursing, and picturing God? What is the Sabbath rest supposed to accomplish? Are there positive things one should do to give meaning to the day’s rest?
Ultimately, Dr. Pashman decides that ‘stepping back’ to an objective position—the starting point for moral conduct—is the detachment that Sabbath observance demands. A Sabbath properly observed is not just a day to unplug from technology; it is a day to attentively contemplate the lives and needs of others, to take a ‘God's eye’ view of the world.
From time to time, the journey is paused for brief personal memoirs of Pashman’s Sabbath experiences over the years. These poignant, often hilarious, glimpses into her life before this quest introduce the reader to her atheist grandfather, her observant Uncle Wolfie, her sly mother-in-law, her cynical older son, and her younger son whose own children, she hopes, will continue engaging with Jewish traditions.
Filled with wisdom and much humor, this is a book for both contemporary, skeptical Jews seeking to preserve personal autonomy while continuing family traditions, and also for those ‘spiritual seekers’ of all religions in search of the rootedness that tradition supplies, without having to engage in what they might regard as hypocrisy.