Jon­ah: A Mod­ern Commentary

Leonard S. Kravitz; Ker­ry M. Olitzky
  • Review
By – March 26, 2012
We read the book of Jon­ah as the Haftorah dur­ing the Yom Kip­pur Min­chah ser­vice. This is most appro­pri­ate since it deals with repen­tance and we read it at a time when we are weary from fast­ing and, per­haps, less atten­tive to the mes­sage of the day. Rab­bis Kravitz and Olitzky, both affil­i­at­ed with the Reform move­ment, bring read­ers a new look at this reluc­tant prophet. Using ancient texts, medieval com­men­taries, and mod­ern schol­ar­ship, the authors ana­lyze the book verse by verse. They also com­ment on the major themes of the book: false prophets, repen­tance, change, growth, jus­tice, and mer­cy. With these themes as a basis, the authors engage the read­er by ask­ing him or her to exam­ine the nature of God and human nature. They then note the impor­tance of teshu­vah and the fact that it requires peo­ple to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for their own lives and exam­ine the choic­es they have made. End­ing on a hope­ful note, they stress that God is mer­ci­ful and wants peo­ple to find the right path and fol­low it. This small book con­tains much wis­dom. It will be use­ful for Torah study groups and syn­a­gogue libraries.
Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions