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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Science of Shabbat

In the "Weekly Torah Portion" of the New Jersey Jewish News, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, a professor of liturgy at the Hebrew Union College in New York, examines how science can inform the Jewish commandment to do no work on Shabbat by helping Jews to make sense of what qualifies as "work" and why. Drawing on the work of structural anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss and his idea of "cooked" nature—nature shaped for our own use—Hoffman offers Jews a way to interpret the commandment as an instruction to take a break from the obligation to create culture and society, and to, for one day of the week, enjoy "nature in the raw." —Heather Wax