#56 The Power of Teshuva

The concept of teshuva – usually translated in English as “repentance” but literally meaning “return” – is, as David discusses in this episode, a phenomenal idea in Judaism that a person can be defined, not simply by what they do, but by their ability to change. This podcast episode, coming in advance of Yom Kippur, is unusual in that it brings together segments of lectures David has given over the years on the subject of teshuva. Starting with an in-depth examination of the Book of Yonah (Jonah), which we read on Yom Kippur, he explores Biblical and Talmudic stories that raise discussions about what we can do – and what we should do – when our behaviour is found wanting. David also explores 20th-century Jewish philosophical ideas on the meaning of teshuva for us as individuals and for the world.

Yom Kippur in the Jerusalem Temple. Illustrator of Henry Davenport Northrop’s “Treasures of the Bible,” 1894. Public Domain.

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#55 The Prophets: The Twelve ‘Minor’ Prophets

A Podcast on the Prophets of Israel in Tanach (Hebrew Bible)

The Trei Asar, known in English as the twelve ‘minor’ prophets, have been fundamental to the transmission of ideas and moral perspectives through the past two and a half millennia. In this podcast episode, the final instalment of this four-part series on the prophets of Israel for Elul, David explores the fascinating lives, historical context, and profound messages of these spiritual giants. In dynamic succinctness, David marches through the short but canonical texts of Hosea, Yoel, and Amos; Ovadiah, Yonah, and Micah; Nachum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah; Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. David explains the importance of each book and their contributions to Jewish and world spirituality.

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Sophonie s’adressant au peuple. Valenciennes – BM – ms. 0007 (f. 183). 16th century. Public Domain.

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#54 The Prophets: Ezekiel

A Podcast on the Prophets of Israel in Tanach (Hebrew Bible)

The Book of Ezekiel has been enormously influential on Jewish spirituality for two-and-a-half millennia, including as the foundational inspiration for subsequent Jewish mystical ideas and texts. In this podcast episode, David examines the life and work of the Prophet Ezekiel (Yechezkel), believed to be among the first wave of exiles taken into Babylon. It is in the Book of Ezekiel, largely set during the Babylonian exile after the destruction of the First Temple, that we find an array of profound concepts about ethical existence and societal responsibility that remain startlingly relevant until today – in particular, we can extract much from Ezekiel’s insights into teshuva and Jewish spiritual practice in times of change and uncertainty. David also explores other remarkable elements of the book, including the extraordinary descriptions of G-d’s chariot and the valley of the dry bones, as well as providing insights into the social, political, and spiritual turbulence of the time.

Scan of a Gustave Doré engraving “The Vision of The Valley of The Dry Bones” – 1866. Public Domain.

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#53 The Prophets: Jeremiah

A Podcast on the Prophets of Israel in Tanach (Hebrew Bible)

It is impossible to understand the impact of the prophets of Israel without placing them in their historical and cultural contexts. In this podcast episode, David sets the fascinating historical background to the emergence of the second of the ‘major prophets’, Jeremiah (Yeremiyahu). He expands on the powerful and challenging messages that Jeremiah delivers to his contemporaries – many of which still strongly resonate today. David also examines the life and character of this remarkable but reluctant prophet, including his struggle with the demanding responsibilities placed upon him by G-d and the consequences that this enormous role in Jewish History would have for him.

Rembrandt: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem. Pubic Domain.

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#52 The Prophets: Isaiah

A Podcast on the Prophet Isaiah in Tanach (Hebrew Bible)

The Prophets of Israel were a unique and revolutionary spiritual phenomenon with profound impact across the ages. In this podcast episode, the first of a four-part series on the prophets scheduled for Elul, David examines the context, character, and inspirational message of the Prophet Isaiah (Yeshayahu), the first of the ‘major prophets’. In doing so, David discusses how relevant the words and influence of this remarkable biblical figure – and particularly, his insight into the concept of teshuva – remain for us today.

Isaiah; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company. 1904. Public Domain.

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#51 Women in Jewish History: 20th to 21st Centuries

A Podcast on Women in Jewish History 

Recent decades have seen many examples of Jewish women who have significantly influenced Jewish history and, more generally, world history. In this podcast episode, David examines the characters and contributions of more than 20 extraordinary Jewish women from the past hundred years. He explores their fascinating and sometimes poignant life stories as well as their important work in fields including science, the arts, politics, commerce, and religion.

Rachel Bluwstein. Public Domain.

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#50 Women in Jewish History: 18th to 20th Centuries

A Podcast on Women in Jewish History 

From mystics and messianic figures to writers, activists, and politicians women made enormous contributions to Jewish and world history during the four centuries examined in this lecture. In this podcast episode, David explores the characters and contributions of a collection of “remarkable and extraordinary” women from the mid 18th to 20th centuries whose legacies continue to fascinate and whose work and ideas helped shape the world in which we live today.

This episode marks a milestone for the podcast: 50 episodes and a year since the podcast was launched. We thank you for joining us on this journey.

Outdoor group portrait of the women on the first board of the Weibliche Fuersorge (Care for Women Society); Frankfurt am Main. No known copyright restrictions. (see https://www.flickr.com/photos/center_for_jewish_history/3507968224)

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#49 When Being Righteous is not Enough: A Study of the Book of Job

A Podcast on the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible

The Book of Job (Iyov) is a philosophical discussion on the nature of divine justice in relation to human suffering. In this podcast episode, David provides a fascinating overview of the story of Job whose tragic circumstances cause him to demand an explanation from G-d on the question: Why has this happened to me? As David explores each chapter of this biblical text, he unravels the various philosophical positions as expressed by G-d, Satan, and a range of other biblical characters to this age-old question. David also draws on views expressed by the sages, rabbis, and mystics on the Book of Job and its questions.

Read the transcript.

William Blake: Job’s Evil Dreams. Public Domain.

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Tisha B’Av – Why Titus should have worn a mask

As part of an online Tisha B’Av event for HaMayan in Melbourne, David gave a talk entitled ‘Why Titus should have worn a mask’

0:00 Joe Lederman: From a Valley of Death; Memories & Revival
37:00 Eicha; led by Dr. Gideon Pinczower (multimedia)
1.06:30 David: Why Titus should have worn a mask
1.34:35 Kinnot; Rabbi Dovid Shmerling