Yom Kippur

Sorry, are you crazy?

Dr. Ariel Zinder

On forgiveness and madness in two medieval liturgies


Every request for forgiveness has an element of madness. If I have sinned, why should I be forgiven? If I have nothing to give, why should I ask to receive? If forgiveness is kindness, if it is a sudden gift, how can one even ask for it to be given? It takes a poet to formulate such a request, which has something of madness in it. In the course of over a thousand years, many Selichot liturgies have been written in Hebrew, each of them reopening the question of forgiveness and grace, request and madness. In this lecture we will look at two different liturgies, from Italy and Spain, and learn of at least two ways to prevail over the madness of forgiveness.


Dr. Ariel Zinder is a researcher, teacher, and poet. He teaches in the Department of Literature at Tel Aviv University, and specializes in medieval Hebrew poetry. His book of poems “You will be innocent” was published in 2020. 

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