On Shabbat Parties in the Kibbutz
Kibbutz Masada, 1960
There is a huge truth in the saying of Echad Ha'am: "More than Israel guarded the Shabbat, the Shabbat guarded Israel". Had we preserved this cultural asset, had we praised and hallowed it properly – not only would this asset not be given a twisted image as it was eventually given (to the extent that each one of us is capable of uprooting it from its source and "implanting" it on the rest of the weekdays, "to receive" it and "to transmit it" as merchandise fit to be sold). But our spiritual countenance and the image of the younger generation growing among us would be totally different.
Although, occasionally the cultural committee awakens and holds a Shabbat party (over a cup of tea, doesn't the conversion of the dining room on Friday nights into a "tea room" – create a negative atmosphere). But these parties are defective because they aren't regular and they leave a void between party to party which gives rise to their contents becoming unfit for this wondrous commodity, who's main content isn't merely it being a day of rest following six days of work, mainly because, according to the best interpretation that the Jewish people had given it during its thousands of years of existence, it took on the image of a day of rest and holiness, a day of communion with the values of its culture, a day of crystallization of its spiritual image, of inspiration for one and all.
The day of Shabbat according to our most profound heritage of the Jewish nation did not take on the character of a day of amusement and disassociation, but rather a day of study and contemplation. An everyday Jew would utilize this day to peruse the weekly portion of the Torah, he would delve into the variegated commentaries, he would study Pirkei Avot, which are the essential sayings of the wisdom for life and morality of Israel, he would study Mishnah, Talmud, Midrashim etc. Has this custom of our fathers become redundant nowadays, the era of renaissance of the Hebrew culture and the renewal of Israel's independence? Has the time come for us to attribute to Shabbat a different character than that of our predecessors? Will there be ever such a time?
And so that these thoughts are properly understood: We shall give Shabbat parties a religious character, yet we will hold them regularly in the format of seminars highlighting prominent Hebrew literary works. (The bible, Aggadah, classical literature, modern literature etc.)