Monday, September 28th, 2020

Books of Interest: Important Studies on Repentance

September 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Books of Interest, New Posts

Two recent book on teshuva are genuine must-reads.

The first, Takanat Ha-Shavim (2007) by Prof. Nahum Rakover, discusses all aspects relating to the rehabilitation of criminals in halakha.  He discusses when and how we limit the reinstatement of offenders (especially if they had a public position) as well as the debates regarding how to demonstrate true penitence.  The apendices also include tremendously learned discusses about whether teshuva is a mitzvah, the realtionship between teshuva and kappara, and the famous statement that ba’alei teshuva stand at a higher place/level than tzadikim.  Prof. Rakover’s range of sources is mind-boggling, to the point where some of the arguments get redundant at times.  Yet it contains a treasure-trove of material on key topics that are both timely and timeless.  I have no doubt that it will be a significant resource for many years to come. 

The second, Iyyunei Teshuva by Dr. Adiel Kadari (Ben Gurion University Press, 5770), is a running commentary to Rambam’s Hilchot Teshuva.  Following the approach of his distinguished teacher, Prof. Yaakov Blidstein, Kadari analyzes each halakha and parces out its sources, its nuances, and its disagreements with earlier and later opinions.  The book is both thorough yet comprehendible, and contains many stimulating insights.  This is a tremendous resource on Maimonidean thought and especially the concept of teshuva and its various related topics. 

The increasingly popular machzor in Israel is Mimcha Eilecha, edited by Yonadav Kaploun.  In addition to its clear and well organized text, the machzor also includes footnotes with ruminations on the given prayer.  These include classic halakhic or midrashic sources, philosophical reflections, poetry, and stories or personal vignettes.    They don’t really constitute a commentary, but rather collect various ruminations relating to the High Holidays and its themes.  Highly recommended for Hebrew readers.  Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it is only available in Nusach Sefard.

Other Books Received:

Reasonable Doubts by Cheryl Berman (Urim)

Samchut Ruchanit ed. H. Kreisel, Boaz Huss, and Uri Ehrlich (A number of interesting articles on the topic of spiritual authority and leadership).

- Shlomo Brody

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