Introduction to Rabenu Yonah Gerondi
Rabenu Yonah Gerondi was born in Gerona, Catolina in the year 1200 and passed away in 1263. He studied along with the Tosafists in France and later under Rav Shlomo ben Avraham of Montpellier. A controversary concerning the works of the Rambam containing philosophy began in 1232. He like his Rabbanim sided with those that opposed philosophy and the philosophers entering in to works of Torah and therefore in to the yeshivoth and in to the massies of the students of Torah. The inquisitors, may their name be forever blotted out, saw this as an opportunity to further assert their hate against the Jews and seized the moment to have the Rambamís works burned including his works on Jewish law that assisted the layperson and scholar alike. A few years later the inquisitors widen their path of destruction of torah literature and in the same square where the Rambamís works were burned, the talmud was set to flame.
Upon seeing this event, Rabenu Yonah was struck with the awsome devestation to the Torah world and realized this was a in divine retribution to the burning of the works of the Rambam. In the letter of Hillel of Verona, Rabenu Yonah is said to have exclaimed in the synagogues, "I undertake to prostrate myself at Maimonides' grave and to confess that I spoke and sinned against his books". Upon returning from France to his birth place, Rabenu Yonah began a campaign to teach Musar (ethics and morality) to the masses. Later he settled in Barcelona where many students came to learn from his teachings. At the end of his life he set out to live in Eretz Yisrael, but upon reaching Toledo he was asked to stay and assist them in creating a Yeshivah. The Yeshivah flurished, but after two years he passed away and never materialized his dream to live in Eretz Yisrael.
Rabenu Yonah practiced what he wrote and preached and was known world over for his good traits and piety. His works from his time and even on to ours are considered underpinnings to achieving a path of truth in Torah and service of Hashem.
Introduction to The Shaarei Teshuvah
The Shaarei Teshuvah, the Gates of Repentance are divided in to four Gates:
The First Gate: The Explanation of Repentance and its Principles The Second Gate: Teaching the ways to Awaken Onself to Return to Hashem The Third Gate: Explanations on the Graveness of Observing the Commandments and Warnings and their Punishments. The Fourth Gate: The Divisions of Atonement
The first gate has 52 chapters, the second 34, the third 231 and the last 22. Each chapter is brief and covers a specific detail with in each gate. There is a certain poetic grace that exists in the writings of Rabenu Yonah, it is unfortunate that in translation and with in the limits of this course this can not be expressed further. This course is intended to teach the core concepts of each gate, it is expected that the reader will be diligent to look further in to the Shaarei Teshuvah to gain a greater understanding and awakening to serve Hashem.