Some time ago I posed a question to Rabbi Bob Gorelik about keeping Sabbath. The question was: “I often have to travel to teach, and many times I end up with schedules that require me to fly on Sabbath. How can I resolve this with the instructions about the Sabbath?”
I think Bob’s reply will help many of us see the Torah from a different perspective. Bob said:
One, the Lord has gifted you to teach. And, since He is the one who “keeps opening doors” – you should walk through them (to whatever extent that your finances and other obligations allow). Let the Lord use you as He determines. Understanding this in your heart is VERY important, but that’s the simple part.
Two, the Torah is not a rigid system of rules and regulations. It is a guideline for living and how we apply this guideline to our life can often be very tricky. It would be simple if we were required to choose between a good and an evil – but that is often not the case. Rather, we are more frequently required to make a choice between the better of two goods and/or the lesser of two evils – that is why it’s single-most important mediating principal is love.
Take your situation – the Lord opens the door for you to teach. You feel compelled to go. But, the venue is in California – a place that you need to fly to. Depending on your teaching schedule (and your other work and/or other family obligations) – it may or may not be possible to avoid flying on the Sabbath. And, since you are also at the mercy of the airlines and their schedule (something that you obviously have no control over) you may be required to compromise one principle (observing the Sabbath) in order to fulfill another (communicating the message that God has put on your heart).
Christians tend to have an “all or nothing” view of the Torah based on a misunderstanding of texts like James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” – so the issue is not hard to resolve at all. Since the Law has been “abolished” you have no obligation to observe it – therefore traveling on the Sabbath is not an issue so don’t worry about it.
But, it obviously troubles you, so the best thing to do it to try to resolve it the way that Jews do – by constantly trying to strike a balance between what we do, and why we do it. In other words, faced with your choices, what is the most loving thing to do? The question is not always easy to answer and it may not always be possible to answer it the same way twice – because every set of circumstances are different.
With a Greek world-view the dilemma that you face is virtually impossible to resolve. But with a Jewish world-view, it is possible to make a choice between these two equally good, but competing principles in a way that preserves the integrity of God’s word and the character of His calling upon your life.