fbpx Skip to content

Judith Shulevitz shares the importance of Sabbath with John O’Leary on the Live Inspired Podcast.

Almost 13 years ago, I read Judith Shulevitz’s New York Times article Taking Back Sabbath and still today, it has a profound effect on me. As a society, we’ve put such an emphasis on work and being busy and this article reminds us of the importance of Sabbath, what “Sabbath” is and what it means in all of our lives – regardless of our faith background.

Today, our conversation with Judith will challenge you to build a pause into your week, nourish your community and remember that you are so much more than what you do.

Subscribe &  listen on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio or listen here:


  • Judaism is an “orthopractic religion” (right living, not right belief) and the culture puts ritual, community + study above faith which is referred to as “practice.”
  • Judith references Derek Thompson’s Atlantic article about our society making a religion out of work or “work-ism”. Read it here.
  • Depression + a sense that something was missing brought Judith back to practicing Judaism through the Sabbath.
  • Sabbath: a day of religious observance and abstinence from work. Simply a day when we don’t work – all of us – at the same time so we can spend intentional time and create community together to remind us we are more than what we do for a living.
    • The Sabbath is a central Jewish practice that later, over centuries, Christians took it over, moving it to Sundays for many reasons including it was a chance to differentiate Christians from Jews and Christ rose on a Sunday.
  • Read Judith Shulevitz’s New York Times article Bring Back the Sabbath here.
  • Puritans + pilgrims came to America in quest of a perfect Sabbath and enacted the Blue laws, which were strict laws meant to maintain a calm atmosphere by closing civic institutions, allowing others to celebrate Sabbath.
  • For many reasons, the Sabbath practice has faded.
    • Fragmented time era: we no longer share a common schedule with others, leading to loneliness.
    • Push back by putting electronic devices away together and connect as a group.
    • Be conscious of the way we let commerce and capitalism colonize our time and isolate ourselves from others.
    • Stop to reflect + enjoy what you have.
  • The easiest way to take back the Sabbath: Have a meal together. Create a community with a tradition of breaking bread with others.
  • Judith is currently working on a book that will answer the question, “why is the most important work anyone can do (reproduce + raise the next generation of workers) not compensated?”
  • Get Judith Shulevitz book The Sabbath World here.

If you were inspired by Judith’s take on Sabbath, you’ll love Live Inspired Podcast guests Mark Scharenbroich + Radha Agrwal. On ep. 40, Mark shared the importance of acknowledging, honoring, + connecting with those around us and Radha shared concrete ideas on how to combat the loneliness epidemic + build your community on ep. 98.

If you like this podcast, you will love Live Inspired IN STUDIO. It’s my membership community where like-minded friends join me via live webcast to live inspired together. Registration opens soon! Join the waitlist.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? The Bible.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? Take in the wisdom of our elders.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? Books with photographs of my children.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? Founders of Karaitism [Nehemia Gordon and Ḥakham Meir Rekhavi] or Martin Luther.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Before you make a major change in your life, ask yourself, “what would it be like every morning to do that thing? Would it feel good or would it feel bad?”

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Trust yourself. Stop doubting everything you do. Stop wishing you’d done everything differently and realize that everything happened for a reason and move on.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? I set a good example for my children.


Did you enjoy today’s episode? Subscribe, rate + review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts!

Live Inspired with John daily on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedInPinterest, Instagram+ get his Monday Motivation email.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *