Why Do Jews…?

For some time now, I have found myself wanting to know more about Jewish customs, holiday’s and daily life.  I can’t really explain it, but lately it has been consuming me and I find myself looking for as much information as I can get my hands on.  I’ve found a book called, The Jewish Book Of Why, by Alfred J. Kolatch and wanted to share a tidbit or two with you. 

For instance, have you ever wondered why Jews observe the Sabbath as a day of rest?  If you know the story of creation you’ll recall that in Genesis 2:1-3 we learn that after God created the world in 6 days He rested on the 7th day.  The Sabbath is referred to as a day of rest for both servants and masters in the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) which appears in the Book of Exodus 20:2-14 as well as the Book of Deuteronomy 5:12-15.  It is also a day for commemorating Israel’s redemption from Egyptian bondage which is also listed in the Book of Exodus 31:16-17. 

Did you know that to violate or descrate the Sabbath is worse than desecrating Yom Kippur?  The Sabbath is considered the most important day in the Jewish calendar and while the penalty for violating Yom Kippur is excommunication (Leviticus 23:30), the penalty for violating the Sabbath is death (Exodus 31:15).  This would help to explain why Jesus was considered by many to be a criminal for healing a man on the Sabbath. 

Did you know that the Talmud (the Jewish law) lists 39 categories of “work” that should not be conducted on the Sabbath while the bible lists only a few, such as planting and harvesting and the kindling of fire?

Did you know that according to the Jewish calendar, the day begins at sundown?  In the Book of Genesis, at the end of each day of Creation it says, “And God saw that it was good. And it was evening and it was morning…” Genesis chapter 1.  In the Book of Leviticus 23:32 it says, “…from evening unto evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”  Each twenty-four hour period begins in the evening at sundown.  Sabboth begins on Friday evening at sundown and continues until nightfall on Saturday.  While the Jewish calendar recognizes Friday evening through Saturday evening as Sabbath, most Christians consider Sunday morning through evening as their Sabbath or day of rest.

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