Sen. Joe Lieberman tells Newsmax that “the gift of rest is desperately needed today,” and he has written a new book about the Sabbath and what the day of rest can mean to people of all faiths.
The Connecticut lawmaker also says that, along with his extraordinary success in politics, his book “The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath,”
released today, is “one of the most significant opportunities I’ve had in my lifetime.”
Elected to the Senate in 1988, Lieberman ran as the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2000, but he is now an independent Democrat. He has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2012.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, the veteran legislator was asked why he chose to write about the Sabbath instead of politics or foreign policy.
“This is the seventh book I’ve been privileged to write, going back to the '60s,” says Lieberman, an orthodox Jew.
“All the other books have been about history or government or politics. This one is very different, and in some ways, it’s something I’ve wanted to write for a long time because the observance of the Sabbath has been so important to me, and so wonderful to me and my family, that as we say in the title, ‘The Gift of Rest,’ though it comes from a commandment, the Fourth Commandment, in my experiencing of it, it has really been a gift, a gift of rest, a gift of perspective.
“What I try to do in this book is explain what I do on the Sabbath and why I do it, why it’s so satisfying and meaningful to me, why it makes the work I do the other six days of the week so much easier and I think so much more full of purpose, and really to offer the gift of rest to everybody who will read this book — knowing, of course, that not everybody will observe it in the traditional Jewish way that I do.
“But regardless of one’s religion, or frankly whether one considers oneself religious, there’s a powerful message and purpose to the Sabbath. The gift of rest is desperately needed in our world today, where people work so hard almost every day, and yearn for meaning and find it hard to locate in our popular culture.”
“So I hope that when people read this book, in their own way they will accept the gift of rest and bring it into their own lives — maybe just deciding for one day or part of one day not to use their Blackberry or iPads or to watch television, or spending quiet and personal time with their spouses.
“So that’s why I wrote the book. And in some really personal ways, I feel the opportunity that I’ve had to write this book on the Sabbath may be one of the most significant opportunities I’ve had in my lifetime, because of how important I think the gift of rest is.”
Given that many Christians have deemphasized the importance of the Sabbath in recent times, Lieberman says his book, and the rediscovery of the Sabbath, may be particularly relevant to Christians.
“God gave the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. But they were not just given to the children of Israel — they were given to all of humankind,” he tells Newsmax.
“I do hope the message will be felt particularly by Christians. All the Christian religions accept the truth of the Hebrew Bible.”
Lieberman is particularly fond of the way Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York explained the significance of the Sabbath.
“He quotes John Paul the Second, and I paraphrase here,” Lieberman said. “Pope John Paul said: ‘How can we expect to work with God on six days of the week, if we don’t rest with God on the seventh?’”
To those who say they are too busy to take a day of rest, Lieberman explains: “One of the things I say in the book is, I grew up Sabbath observant, then went away to college and, just like you’re supposed to, I guess, stopped observing the Sabbath. I came back to it little by little, with a real intensity. And one of the insights I had to appreciate is that truly none of us is indispensable 24/7. We may think so, but we’re really not.
“Ultimately, if we decide to take a day of the seven, or even part of a day, and just pull back and thank God that we’re alive, spend the time in prayer, spend the time with our families, it’s going to be a lot more valuable.
“I’ve found that I can work a lot more productively six days of the week because I know I will have the seventh day to rest.”
Lieberman’s book also talks about rediscovering the concept of destiny.
“The Sabbath, insofar as it honors creation, reminds us that we’re not here by accident, that we’re here as the result of an intentional act of creation by God,” he says.
“God not only created, but remained prepared to re-engage in history. But ultimately we, in accepting God and God’s law, the Commandments, have declared ourselves to be partners in realizing the destiny and the improvement of the human race in some sense, in the most ideal and idealistic terms, to complete God’s creation, to perfect the world.
“And all of that is present in our observance of the Sabbath.”
Editor’s Note: To get a copy of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s book, “The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath,” at a good price — Go Here Now.
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