#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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#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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#20 Revelation in Exile: the Book of Ezekiel

From deep within the Babylonian exile, the prophet Ezekiel became the extraordinary conduit for the voice of Gd outside of the Land of Israel. In this podcast episode, David Solomon explores the life and setting of the prophet Ezekiel; his profound messages of teshuva and the importance of individual responsibility; and his remarkable visions – including those of the divine chariot, the Temple, and the valley of the dry bones – which have been a source of fascination and controversy for two and a half thousand years.

Ezekiel and the hand of God. Dura Europos synagogue wall painting. Public Domain.

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#19 Visionaries, Reformers and Agitators – the Rise of the Prophets of Israel (part 4)

Building the dream

Following the return to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian exile, the Jewish nation found itself grappling with issues associated with the reconstruction of a society and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Two extraordinary figures to emerge at this crucial juncture in Jewish history were the prophets Ḥaggai and Zechariah. In this podcast episode, the final instalment in his series on the Rise of the Prophets of Israel, David Solomon looks at the incredible lives and messages of Ḥaggai and Zechariah; their historical and geopolitical contexts; and the powerful words they uttered to the Jewish people during the period of the return to Zion – many ideas and insights which continue to resonate for us today.

Image: Gustave Dore – The Rebuilding of the Temple Is Begun. Public Domain.

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#17 Visionaries, Reformers and Agitators – the Rise of the Prophets of Israel (part 2)

The great prophets of the southern kingdom

The destruction of the northern kingdom left the Kingdom of Judah as the remaining sovereign home for the Jewish people. Out of that new historical reality emerged extraordinary prophets who transformed the concept of Gd and promoted ideas of peace, justice and teshuva. In this podcast episode, David Solomon explores the powerful messages of the prophets Isaiah and Mikhah, their geo-political setting, and their influence on the character and destiny of the nation of Israel and the world.

Edward Hicks – Peaceable Kingdom. Public Domain.

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#16 Visionaries, Reformers and Agitators – the Rise of the Prophets of Israel (part 1)

The beginnings of literary prophecy

The prophets of Israel emerged into history with positions and authority unprecedented across the ancient world. In this podcast episode, the first of a four-part series on the rise of the prophets of Israel, David Solomon examines this extraordinary social and spiritual phenomenon. Providing comprehensive historical background to the societies into which these prophets emerged, he explores the beginnings of literary prophecy through the extraordinary lives and inspiring words of the early prophets, Amos and Hoshea.

The Prophet Hoshea and his wife Gomer. Public Domain.

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#11 Moments of Teshuva (Repentance) in Jewish History

Exploring moments from the Bible to the modern era, David Solomon tells the  stories of notable examples of teshuva (repentance) in Jewish History. He discusses the context of the individuals at the centre of these stories, how they identified and dealt with their wrong doing – both in relation to others and before Gd – and what insight their experiences can offer into teshuva.

This podcast episode was released early in advance of Yom Kippur 5780 (2019).

Maurycy Gottlieb – Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. Public Domain.

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