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October 16, 2008 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-10-16

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A40 October 16 • 2008

the rabbi, "it is important to want
mercy for others." Thus, a storm was
sent to batter the ship until Jonah
was thrown overboard. He was swal-
he opportunity to study from lowed by a big fish, in whose belly
a different perspective is
he prayed and did teshuvah, until he
was spit out on dry land. ("If God can
exciting:' said Judy Lobel, of
Huntington Woods. "We are fortunate
create the universe, the idea of a big
to have so many opportunities to
fish is not hard to swallow," Gottlieb
study in this community:'
Lobel was part of an audi-
A reformed Jonah then car-
ence of 70 gathered to hear
ries his prophetic message to
Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb discuss
Nineveh. Faced with disaster,
the Book of Jonah at a pre-
the king and his people don
Yom Kippur lunch and learn
sackcloth and ashes and fast.
More importantly, taught
Sponsored by Ohr
Gottlieb, they changed their
Somayach Detroit, the local
evil ways. Although the
branch of the international
change was not permanent,
Rabbi G ottlieb
adult Jewish education orga-
God appreciated their effort
nization, Gottlieb spoke Oct.
enough to save them from
7 at the Max M. Fisher Jewish
Federation Building in Bloomfield
Herein lies the lesson, said the rabbi.
There are two types of mitzvot, he
A popular lecturer from Jerusalem,
explained: total and partial mitzvot.
Gottlieb holds a doctorate in philoso-
Placing a mezuzah on one's doorpost
phy and was formerly a professor of
is an example of a total mitzvah; it is
mathematical logic at Johns Hopkins
performed in a specific way. Tzedakah
University in Baltimore.
(charity) on the other hand, is a "par-
Jonah is traditionally read dur-
tial" type of mitzvah, since there are
ing Minchah,
no limits to its
the afternoon
service, on Yom
Teshuvah is also
Kippur, and
in this category;
we get heavenly
deals with the
topic of teshu-
- Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb "credit" for what-
ever amount of
vah, repentance.
repentance we
In discussing
whether Jonah
is a historical record or a parable,
Gottlieb gave an example: "How
do we know if a fish is dead or alive?
Rabbi Gottlieb said it's not an either-
Throw it in the water. If it floats down-
or question. Since Judaism believes
stream, it's dead; if it goes upstream,
God guides everything, the events of
it's alive:'
Jonah were actual, guided by God, to
"Ah, but what if it stays in the same
teach its unique lessons.
Jonah is a prophet sent by God
place?" he asked. "It's alive, of course,
to give a warning of destruction to
struggling just to stay in the same
place. It takes effort not to deteriorate."
the non-Jewish city of Nineveh, but
"We can't make peace with our
attempts to shirk his duty by fleeing
failures and accept ourselves as we
to sea. Jonah's motivation is altruistic:
He fears that the people of Ninevah
are said the rabbi; "we need to keep
changing or at least trying:'
would, in fact, heed his message and
Harriet Drissman of Farmington
repent, thus making the unrepentant
Hills liked the fish analogy. "It helps
Jewish People look bad by compari-
you re-evaluate the direction you're
Gottlieb taught that despite Jonah's
going, to take account of where you
are and where you want to go:'
good intent, God deemed his actions
That, after all, is the lesson of Yom
wrong. Jonah had the ability to help
others and didn't want to; and, said
Kippur. ❑


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