Last summer after my work with the Hartman rabbinic program in Jerusalem, I met in Berlin with Professor Admiel Kosman, the academic director of the Liberal Seminar for Rabbis, the Abraham Geiger College. For years I have been an avid reader of his literary and spiritual essays on rabbinic tales such as Men’s World, Reading Masculinity in Jewish Stories in a Spiritual Context.
Deeply inspired by Martin Buber’s dialogical philosophy, he has brought out the subtle messages about inner piety and ethical relationships by reading between the lines of the quasi-biographic narratives in the Talmud. We hit on the idea of gathering three tales connected to Yom Kippur or other fasts of contrition and repentance and producing a kuntres, a compendium, of tales and their moral lessons for the edification of the rabbis in the field who seek to inspire the Jewish people every year for Yamim Noraim.
With the help of my hevruta, Peretz Rodman, head of the Masorti Rabbinical Association in Israel, we edited and where necessary translated these tales and their interpretations. With the blessings and support of Lauren Berkun, director of the Hartman Rabbinic Leadership programs, we present you with these literary gifts with the hope that they will enrich your learning and spiritual lives as you go forth as the shlikhei tzibur to Am Yisrael for this Yom Kippur.
As Rabbi Tanhuma prayed on his fast day: May we be filled with compassion one for another and may God in turn be filled with compassion on us and forgive our lacuna.