Parashat Shabbat Shuva / Repentance and Reconstruction

The sages depict Reuben and Hosea’s penitence as a process whose reward is to be found beyond any visible horizon. Repentance cannot erase the sin nor can it change the sinner’s life. In fact, it can sometimes even have negative repercussions for the sinner.

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When Joseph reaches his brothers, who are shepherding the family’s flock, they conspire to kill him – but Reuben saves him: Following Reuben’s counsel, the brothers commute Joseph’s death sentence and instead...