Podcast: Daniel Rynhold on Thinking Repentance Through https://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/religion-holidays/2023/09/podcast-daniel-rynhold-on-thinking-repentance-through/

A Jewish philosopher stops by to talk about how Jews—and one major non-Jew—have thought about repentance.

September 22, 2023 | Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, Daniel Rynhold
About the author: A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.
Ultra-Orthodox men and children gather in the Israeli city of Netanya on September 21, 2023 to perform Tashlich ahead of Yom Kippur. JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images.

Podcast: Daniel Rynhold


“When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty; then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall make restitution for this trespass in full.” So reads chapter 5 of the book of Numbers. Repentance is on the Jewish mind these days. The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Ten Days of T’shuvah—the Ten Days of Repentance—and during it observant Jews engage in prayer and penitence.

What is repentance? How does it operate? What’s actually happening in the mind of the penitent?

Daniel Rynhold is dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and professor of Jewish philosophy at Yeshiva University. He has thought and written much about repentance and sees it as a way to illustrate some of the most interesting contrasts between medieval and modern philosophers. Joining Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver here to discuss the subject, he focuses on three major thinkers, two from within the Jewish tradition and one outside of it.

The first is Jonah of Girona, or Rabbeinu Yonah, the 13th-century author of the rabbinic work The Gates of Repentance. The second is Joseph B. Soloveitchik, known as the Rav, who was perhaps the central intellectual figure of postwar Modern Orthodoxy. The third is the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a famous critic of the Enlightenment, of liberalism, and of modernity. The last two are the focus of his book, written with Michael Harris, Nietzsche, Soloveitchik, and Contemporary Jewish Philosophy, published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.