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The Emotions of Repentance: Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Kook and the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Rabbi Dr. Yosef Bronstein / August 24, 2020

Videos   Source Sheets  

In addition to delineating the technical process of repentance, Jewish literature has also explored the emotions that are supposed to accompany this process. In this class we will trace The Emotions of Repentance from the medieval authorities (Rambam and Rabbeinu Yonah) through the great twentieth century thinkers, Rabbi Soloveitchik, Rav Kook and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Studying this topic comparatively will highlight the continuities and ruptures between the medieval and modern perspectives as well as the unique approaches of these three innovative and influential leaders.

Part 1: Introducing the range of emotions possibly associated with repentance.  We will then focus on Rambam and Rabbeinu Yonah and see how these texts were understood and experienced in traditional yeshivot. This will create a baseline to better appreciate the continuity and ruptures of 20th century Jewish thought.

Part 2: We will explore Rav Soloveitchik’s painful but empowering approach to the emotions of repentance and contextualize it within the broader project of his thought.

Part 3: Rav Kook advised against embracing the traditional range of emotions associated with repentance in earlier Jewish literature.  This class will analyze the rationale for this conscious departure and the new texture of repentance for which Rav Kook advocated.

Part 4: The Lubavitcher Rebbe was a highly innovative interpreter of earlier Hassidic writings. This come to the fore in his talks on the proper mood of repentance in the late 20th century. We will also see how this specific issue reflects more broadly on his projects and goals.


Posted: 08/23/2020

Posted: 08/30/2020

Posted: 09/06/2020

Posted: 09/13/2020

Source Sheets

  Download, Source 1 Posted: 08/23/2020
  Download, Source 2 Posted: 08/30/2020
  Download, Source 3 Posted: 09/06/2020
  Download, Source 4 Posted: 09/13/2020

Rabbi Dr. Yosef Bronstein

Rabbi Dr. Yosef Bronstein received rabbinic ordination from RIETS, and a PhD in Talmudic Studies from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies with a focus on Midrash Halakha. 

He currently teaches Jewish philosophy and halakha at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) and online for Yeshiva University’s Isaac Breuer College.  His books, Engaging the Essence: The Philosophy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Maggid Books) and Reshimot Shiurim shel Maran ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik al Masekhet Kiddushin are, God willing, forthcoming.


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