How do you single out precisely which aspect of the Sabbath mitigates your particular loneliness? The setting, the rites, the prayer book—the Sabbath dramaturgy mixes them all up. Each element of the Jewish Sabbath bears traces of every period in which Jews kept it, which is every period in Jewish history. At any given moment, several different movies about the Sabbath will be playing simultaneously inside the head of the Sabbath observer. “Holy days, rituals, liturgies—all are like musical notations which, in themselves, cannot convey the nuances and texture of live performance,” the historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi writes.

Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time