NPR's "On Being" addresses The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

It is always nice to see the good things that one of your students has been doing.

Louis Newman, who got his masters at the U of M and then went off to get his PhD at Brown, now teaches at Carleton.

He nicely addresses a variety of issues pertinent to this season of the High Holy Days in a broadcast called, The Refreshing Practice of Repentance on the NPR series,"On Being" with Krista Tippett.

The show originates from the Twin Cities and covers a wide variety of spiritual topics. [Hat tip to KS.]

I haven't dealt with repentance in any systematic way. Most recently I did write a bit about apologies in general and compassion in the Kol Nidre ritual.

My favorite moment from the show was when Krista quoted Louis' reference to Rabbi Soloveitchik who says in one of his works that the practice of repentance is so bewildering that even the angels to not understand it: "Repentance cannot be comprehended rationally. It does not really make sense. Even the angels do not understand what repentance is."

Newman cites the Talmud's statement (in Berakhot 54a) that repentance was created at twilight just before the first Sabbath, which means to him that repentance is a miracle that God placed in the world.

Newman published a fine book about repentance in 2010, reviewed here.

Postscript question for 5776:
This year I am reflecting on the marathon nature of the Yom Kippur services and rituals. As an active person, as a rule I work out every day. I swim laps in a pool. I do not swim the English Channel, not even once a year. I do not engage in marathon runs or triathlons. Would it not be better for the soul and the psyche for most people, I wonder, to practice serious but smaller and more manageable rituals of repentance on a daily basis? Self reflection and improvement should be ritualized and actualized as a continuous process, shouldn't it?

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