The Gates of Repentance (Sha'arei Teshuvah), by Rabbeinu Yonah of Geronah (d. 1263), is one of the most important books of Jewish literature. Now available in a modern English translation, this volume probes the profound idea of teshuvah, often translated as "repentance" but in reality far more complex and subtle than the simple meaning of "regret for sin" or "contrition." Rabbi Feldman furnishes the reader with an eminently readable translation and provides notes directly on-site when difficulties arise in the text. He gives a general introduction as well as short introductions to each gate, followed by a synopsis of each gate for review and overview. Unique to this work are the scholarly notes Rabbi Feldman provides, which enable the reader to follow themes throughout the work, get a better understanding of other sages' insights, and develop to a higher level the ideas discussed in The Gates of Repentance.
Rabbeinu Yonah — Yonah ben Abraham Gerondi (Hebrew: יונה גירונדי) (died 1264), also known as Rabbenu Yonah (רבנו יונה) and Yonah of Gerona, was a Catalan rabbi and moralist, cousin of Nahmanides. He is most famous for his ethical work The Gates of Repentance (Hebrew: שערי תשובה).
Yonah Gerondi came from Girona, in Catalonia. Gerondi was the most prominent pupil of Solomon of Montpellier, the leader of the opponents of Maimonides' philosophical works, and was one of the signers of the ban proclaimed in 1233 against the Moreh Nevukim and the Sefer ha-Madda. According to his pupil, Hillel of Verona, Gerondi was the instigator of the public burning of Maimonides' writings by order of the authorities at Paris in 1233, and the indignation which this aroused among all classes of Jews was mainly directed against him. Subsequently (not forty days afterward, as a tradition has it, but in 1242; see note 5 to H. Grätz, Geschichte, vol. vii.), when twenty-four wagon-loads of Talmuds were burned at the same place where the philosophical writings of Maimonides had been destroyed, Gerondi saw the folly and danger of appealing to Christian ecclesiastical authorities on questions of Jewish doctrine, and publicly admitted in the synagogue of Montpellier that he had been wrong in all his acts against the works and fame of Maimonides.
As an act of repentance he vowed to travel to Israel and prostrate himself on Maimonides' grave and implore his pardon in the presence of ten men for seven consecutive days. He left France with that intention, but was detained, first in Barcelona and later in Toledo. He remained in Toledo, and became one of the great Talmudical teachers of his time. In all his lectures he made a point of quoting from Maimonides, always mentioning his name with great reverence. Gerondi's sudden death from a rare disease was considered by many as a penalty for not having carried out the plan of his journey to the grave of Maimonides. He died in Toledo, Spain, in November 1263. However, some believe this was only a myth created by the followers of the Rambam.
Yaakov Feldman — A student of the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and a leader in Jewish outreach, Rabbi Yaakov Feldman was the founder and director of Machon Binah (The Center for Understanding) in California, the director of other outreach organizations in New York, and a Hillel director at the State University of New York at Purchase. Rabbi Feldman serves on the board of directors of Ohr Ki Tov and is past chairman of the clergy committee of the Rockland Council on Alcoholism, a member of the clergy and ethics committees of Rockland County (New York) Hospice Association, and its Spiritual Care Coordinator. He had served for many years as a spiritual and addiction counselor. Rabbi Feldman has translated and commented on The Duties of the Heart by Bachya ibn Pakuda and The Path of the Just by Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (Jason Aronson Inc.). He has also written children's stories, and articles for Jewish journals, magazines, and newspapers. He lives with his wife, Sara, and their three children in Monsey, NY.