THE GIFT OF REST: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath
By Joe Lieberman with David Klinghoffer
Howard. 230 pp. $22
Millions of registered voters yearning to know about the love life of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) should read this book. “That sexual relations between married couples should be required on the Sabbath makes good sense,” Lieberman writes in “The Gift of Rest,” an extended “love song” to Jews’ mandatory day off.
Reading Lieberman’s thoughts on marital intimacy is like getting a lecture on the birds and the bees from an oversharing uncle at your bar mitzvah, but the orthodox Jewish politician offers an unorthodox, apolitical defense of chilling out in Yahweh’s name. Though bogged down in detailed descriptions of shabbos services that will prove impenetrable to those outside the tribe, “The Gift of Rest” treads the same ground as anti-tech books such as “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” and “The Digital Diet.” After all, besides being forbidden to drive, fly in a plane or use a Blackberry from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, Lieberman goes on a digital fast every week.
“The Sabbath is an old but beautiful idea that, in our frantically harried and meaning-starved culture, cries out to be rediscovered and enjoyed by people of all faiths,” he writes. “The Sabbath was given as a gift from God to everyone.” Despite Lieberman’s exhortations, it’s unlikely that people of other faiths will adopt the Jewish Sabbath as a day of rest. The senator has little to say, for example, about his Muslim brethren, who also pray on Fridays. Still, it’s refreshing to read a book about religion from a politician who’s not a 2012 candidate — even a book about “a day of peace, rest, and sensual pleasure” that induces the occasional squirm.