Every Yom Kippur afternoon, in the haftarah, we read one of the most fascinating short books in the Bible–Jonah. Because of time considerations, we spend more time chanting it than delving into it. So on this Shabbat Shuvah, when we are beckoned to return, we ought to look more carefully at the Jonah story and its thoughts about repentance.
The classic observation about Jonah is that he’s the only successful prophet in the Bible–he announces impending disaster, and his audience actually amends their ways. And yes, there’s something to said about the fact that his audience isn’t Israelite–they’re foreigners. But there are actually two communities that display their piety in the Jonah story, one of which doesn’t get as much attention. These characters in the story are a fascinating response to similar characters in a different Biblical story that has a similar outline. I’ll give you a hint–in each story, there’s a sinful population, a prophet, God, a storm, and a boat.
On Shabbat morning, we’ll look carefully at chapter 1 of Jonah, and the message it delivers about the possibility of change.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and Gemar Hatimah Tovah,