Category Archives: Lessons from the Book of Yonah

Which Yonah?

Rabbi Dan Shevitz
September 19, 2012

So, when I was asked to blog about Yonah, for some reason I thought “which Yonah?”  There’s Yonah the Prophet: morose, laconic, depressed, suicidal, insulated, as all the Shma authors have illustrated. But then there’s Yonah the Bird, the dove sent out from Noah’s floating Box (a better translation for tevah than “ark”).  Yonah the More »

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Jonah, the Proselytizing Prophet and Yom Kippur

Matt Bar
September 16, 2012

BY: MATT BAR
The people of Nineveh are foils to our noble, statue-worthy sailors. These people are aging waifs that flitter as thin leaves with but shreds of plant-fiber holding them to the tree of life. Yet how recalcitrant at Jonah’s call they become! King, Noble, farmer and his cattle revert from the depths of depravity to soar to the heights of holy at the instant Jonah roars out his warning. Fasts, rituals and tshuvah bloom forth, like a capital city celebrating in a holier galaxy. When have we ever heard of such a phenomenon in the Bible – a prophet being listened to?! Furthermore, at first blush! More »

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A Prophet in Passing

Shawn Shafner
September 16, 2012

Was Sichst Du? is a game of perception. Erhard Schön’s etching from 1537 depicts Jonah in a state of prayer, emerging from the fish’s mouth. When you approach the work from the left side, however, a squatting man is revealed engaged in the act of elimination. What are we to make of this juxtaposition between More »

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Three Days Deep

Rabbi Deborah Silver
September 14, 2012

There have been years when the comedy of Jonah’s book, its crashing ironies, its sly witticisms, God’s smily-affectionate reprimand at the end, have made me smile. But not this year. As I read it over, what I notice this time around is Jonah’s pain. A number of commentators, including Rabbi Rachel Adler and Dr Avivah More »

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Forget Jonah. What about that Fish?

Rachel Petroff Kessler
September 13, 2012

It has been my experience that when studying the Book of Jonah, most of our attention falls on who else but Jonah himself? Like many of our Biblical characters, Jonah can serve as an enlightening and sometimes uncomfortable mirror on our own lives. It’s easy to read Jonah uncharitably (especially when we try to distill More »

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Jonah – The Reluctant Hero

Rachel S. Harris
September 11, 2012

In the four chapters that constitute The Book of Jonah, Jonah’s mission to talk to the people of Nineveh and convince them to repent constitutes only seven verses (3:3-10). The exercise itself is relatively easy: the people heed his message, are penitent and quick to atone. It is Jonah’s own narrative that makes up the More »

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Trial 092612: The People Vs. Jonah

Caryn Aviv
September 10, 2012

The truth: I’ve never really liked Jonah as one of the central characters in the High Holiday texts, unless you deliberately approach the narrative along the lines of an anti-heroic cautionary tale of ‘what not to do if you’re tapped as a prophet.’  No, Jonah is not exactly an empathetic, nor likable character, with qualities More »

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Justice and Mercy… and Truth

Dr. Gail Labovitz
September 9, 2012

How can one not be intrigued by a book of the Bible whose last words are “and many cattle”? There is much to be said about the short, but complex, confounding book of Jonah. Each of the contributors to the current issue of Sh’ma has already given us much to think about, added to our More »

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