Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Review: Mudhouse Sabbath

Despite my initial misgivings about this book ("Is this just going to be a treatise on why Christianity is better than Judaism?"), the more I read Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner the more I enjoyed it. Ms. Winner is "an Orthodox Jew who converted to Christianity", and yet finds herself longing for the traditional/Biblical heritage she left behind. In the book, she picks a few of the "highlights" of the Hebraic lifestyle (Sabbath, mezuzot, mourning, etc.) and tries to reconfigure them for her new-found faith (or is it?).
What I particularly liked about this book was that is it not only highly anecdotal, but also very informative. Even I, who has been studying Jewish/Hebraic life for over 15 years, learned a few things! For example, in all my 15 years in this "Jewish stuff", I have never (that I can recall) learned that the shin (a Hebrew letter) that is on the mezuzah can also stand for the phrase "Shomer daltot Yisrael" - Guardian of the doors of Israel.
It is interesting to see Christianity from Ms. Winner's perspective, how someone who has lived their life (or at least part of it) based on the Torah and all the traditions surrounding it can go into a very different lifestyle, and yet still keep some of who they were before. As Ms. Winner points out a few times in her book, I do believe that Christianity does have a few things (if not a lot more) to learn from traditional Judaism, especially the joy of the Sabbath. I highly recommend this delightful, quick-read to anyone of any faith. As R. Ben Zoma is often quoted, "Who is wise? One who learns from everyone."


robyn said...

This book sounds interesting! I'm thinking I will order it used on Amazon after my next paycheck. (The used hardback version is only $5!)

Jenny M said...

Wow, that's a good price. I think I might get one too! How frugal, hehe!