Shaarei Teshuvah

Further Forms of Lashon Ha-Ra

by R. Gidon Rothstein Further Forms of Lashon Ha-Ra, and a Reminder of What It Takes to Greet the Shekhina We’re up to the fourth level of lashon ha-ra, an extension of the prohibition known as avak, the dust of lashon ha-ra. This is also the last post in this current series, so the end has a summary that somewhat stands independent of the content until ...

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When to Spread Negative Information and When Not

by R. Gidon Rothstein Despite What Information Wants, We Should Not Let It Be Free Last time, we defined the two worst types of lashon ha-ra, false and true. Before he moves to the third, Rabbenu Yonah points out an extra wrong in true slander, the greater likelihood it will take root, because people are more likely to believe it [he ...

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Lashon Ha-Ra, False and True

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Severity and Types of Lashon Ha-Ra Last time I stopped sort of in the middle to avoid shortening further the shrift I was giving to Rabbenu Yonah’s reasons to see slanderous speech as a spiritual danger (I almost wrote a grave spiritual danger, but is there any other kind?). His fifth reason starts with the pattern lashon ...

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Lashon Ha-Ra Speakers Who Will Never Greet the Divine

by R. Gidon Rothstein The cause of awareness of lashon ha-ra as an halakhic precept was certainly greatly advanced by R. Yisrael Meir Kagan’s attention to it in Hafetz Hayyim, Shemirat Ha-Lashon, and other writings, almost to the point of obviating our interest in Rabbenu Yonah’s version. Not quite, though, because Rabbenu Yonah is a rishon, from an earlier and more authoritative time. In addition, the ...

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Hanifah Is About How We React to Evil

by R. Gidon Rothstein Seven categories of hanifah to go, then we can see why I think Rabbenu Yonah read the word as “excusing evil.” Some flattery does that, but it’s not essential to it, the reason I think we should begin to change our translations (just as I now translate avodah zarah as “worshipping powers other than Gd,” because idolatry narrows it too much. A ...

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Does Hanifah Mean Flattery?

by R. Gidon Rothstein We commonly translate hanifah as flattery, yet Rabbenu Yonah’s nine categories of hanafim do not seem to me to fit the word. Sadly, many of Rabbenu Yonah’s categories are very much alive in our times. This week, the first two types are ones I think we unfortunately see in among many American Orthodox Jewish leaders (perhaps Israeli ones, too, I ...

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Eight More Kinds of Liars

by R. Gidon Rothstein There Are a Lot of Ways to Lie The first liars did so for personal gain, as we saw last time. Rabbenu Yonah has eight more categories, the detail already signaling his concern with lying (similar to the many words for snow we are told Eskimos/Inuit have). The second kind of liars set up the targets of their lies for ...

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Leitzim and Liars

by R. Gidon Rothstein Finding a Definition of Leitz, Then a First Look at Liars Last time, I pointed out weaknesses in the translation of leitz as scoffer, because Rabbenu Yonah’s list of five kinds of leitzim clearly includes people who are not. Our last two kinds, the “least” bad of the five, further convince me leitzim means something else. Killing Time The fourth kind are people who ...

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Four Groups in Real Trouble

by R. Gidon Rothstein To appreciate the move Rabbenu Yonah makes at paragraph 172 of the third sha’ar of Sha’arei Teshuvah, let’s remember the structure of the sha’ar until now. Rabbenu Yonah started with Rambam’s insight the punishment of a sin tells us about its severity, guides us as to how vigorous a repentance is needed. Rabbenu Yonah therefore spent the sha’ar moving from the “least” stringent ...

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Last of the Ways to Lose the World To Come

by R. Gidon Rothstein Errors in Social Participation That Forfeit Membership in that Society Rabbenu Yonah’s list of ways Jews might take themselves out of the World to Come has two more entries, then he moves on (spoiler alert) to the real reason I started this project, four groups of people Sotah 42a says will never greet the Divine. He deals with ...

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