Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Final thoughts about Harry Potter and the power of teshuva

As we leave the time period of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, I want to respond to a few comments left by readers to my previous messages.

(If you didn't read the previous messages, check here, here, here, and here for posts on repentance, and here for another Yom Kippur thought.)

One reader pointed out someone I left out of my list of people in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that repented: Grindelwald. I think it's hard to tell from the book how much he repented, but certainly he seems to have left evil to some extent, so I agree, he should be on the list.

Another reader pointed out that Rashi's Talmud commentary (on AZ 17a) says explicitly what Hermione says about repentance: that sometimes it can be so painful it can kill the repenter. This is a great source, and I'll come back to it in another message sometime.

Another commenter pointed out that I may have been too hard on Harry. Harry does indeed improve himself, learn to control his temper, and admit mistakes. He turned around his opinion of Snape, and apologized for his temper in Order of the Phoenix.

Lastly, one commenter wrote that I should have included Pettigrew on my list of repenters. Maybe, but I think of Pettigrew's actions in the basement in Deathly Hallows as paying back a magical debt to Harry, not as any choice on his part. But actions do count, I suppose...

That's it fro the season of repentance, now on to the holiday of Sukkot...

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