The Jewish Metaphysics of Sin

September 20, 2022 | Joseph B. Soloveitchik
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According to Jewish tradition, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the second set of Tablets—a symbol of God’s reconciliation with the Israelites after they worshipped the golden calf—on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is Yom Kippur, a day thus dedicated to atonement and forgiveness. Using this passage as a point of departure, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik analyzed the meaning of sin and repentance in this 1974 lecture, given nearly one year after Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack on the Jewish state on its most sacred holiday. Soloveitchik, as was his wont, drew here on his grandfather’s system of talmudic analysis, which makes much of the legal distinction between a person, or gavra, and an object, or ḥeftsah. (Video, 28 minutes. Yiddish with English subtitles.)

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