Ha’azinu: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Most of Ha’azinu is a song, a situation where Onkelos tends to stray from literal more than usual, I assume because poetry itself does not intend to be as literal as prose. Nonetheless, more than a few of his choices jumped out at me. The Comparison to Rain and Dew After calling heaven and earth to hear his ...

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Gd Can Call, We Are the Ones Who Have to Repent

by R. Gidon Rothstein The sixth of Rabbenu Yonah’s ways to hear the call to repentance reminds us we bear the final responsibility for finding our way to penitence. He writes (in my loose translation) “at all times the person should prepare him/herself for the encounter with the Creator, because no one knows when his/her life will end.” Knowing there ...

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Say Your Sins, Say Your Truth

by R. Gidon Rothstein Speech Can Be Hard Because Speech Can Be Powerful One of the many valuable insights I have retained from reading Soloveitchik On Repentance has been the Rav’s explanation for the necessity of vidui, of saying one’s sins out loud, as part of the penitential process. Aside from its value for guiding our teshuvah, I suggest it ...

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Rabbenu Yonah’s Calls to Repentance

by R. Gidon Rothstein (previous post on this subject: here) The Call of Torah Scholars In all times, the Jewish people have had leaders who try to point out to them places they are going wrong. Rabbenu Yonah urges readers to be open to their messages, recognize and accept where they hit home, and repent accordingly. Just doing so takes ...

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Rabbenu Yonah’s Six Spurs To Repentance

by R. Gidon Rothstein Rabbenu Yonah’s Six Spurs To Repentance: Spurs One and Two Almost anything can become rote, even repentance. Observant Jews’ habituation to the High Holiday season—the tunes of the first night of selihot, the first Barkhua of Rosh HaShanah, U-netaneh Tokef, Kol Nidrei, and so on, might impede sincere repentance, make it rote rather than real. Rabbenu Yonah was already alert to ...

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Nitzavim-VaYelekh: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos: Nitzavim Nitzavim-Vayelekh are, together, still a very short parsha (and the last one before Rosh HaShanah). In the name of completeness, I wanted five comments of Okelos on each, so it was catch as catch can. Once More on Anthropomorphism Early on in our journey through Onkelos, I pointed out his determined rejection of the literal meaning ...

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Nidui Punishes—What?

by R. Gidon Rothstein This is the last essay in the current series on nidui, a follow-up to the series of ideas about the novel coronavirus back when it was novel. As Rosh HaShanah approaches, the end of our study of siman 334 of Yoreh De’ah leaves us with three weeks for issues of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur—this year, I hope to study the ...

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Ki Tavo: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein No Wandering Aramean Here An early part of Parashat Ki Tavo is more familiar than many parts of the Torah, because we also say it on Seder night. When the Mishnah sought a place where the Torah itself summarizes the Exodus for us to delve into Seder night, it noticed the Torah requires us to include such a summary in ...

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Some Versions of Release From Nidui

by R. Gidon Rothstein We’re really up to discussing the ways people are released from nidui, a topic close to my heart as we head further into Elul, closer to our Rosh Hashanah judgement, where I (and I assume we) pray our Creator will see fit to release us from the current plague (and nidui, in my personal reading of events). Before ...

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Ki Teitzei: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Discipline of Words or of Blows Early in the parsha, we meet parents’ worst nightmare, the ben sorer u-moreh, the son who rejects their parenting and embarks on a life of hedonistic pleasures, illicitly gained. In the process of verifying the boy is beyond reach, 21;18 tells us ve-yiseru oto, they will discipline him, and he will not listen to ...

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