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VIDEO: What Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik said about Jews who become observant

The beloved Orthodox rabbi explains why a “baal teshuvah” stands on a higher spiritual level than a completely righteous Jew

A new video recording in which the late Talmudic scholar Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik speaks about baaley teshuva (Jews who become observant) has been uploaded onto YouTube by Ohr Publishing, in time for the High Holidays.

Known by his former students and admirers as simply The Rav (the Rabbi), Soloveitchik gave the sermon, called The Secret of the Baal Teshuva, in 1969. The talk is in Yiddish, accompanied by English subtitles.

Although Soloveitchik spoke English, he preferred giving his sermons in Yiddish, as Eastern European rabbis had done for centuries.

Among the most intriguing topics he discusses in the 17-minute clip is why the baal teshuvah stands on a spiritual level that even the completely righteous cannot attain.

Rabbi Soloveitchik is considered one of the most influential leaders of Modern Orthodoxy in 20th century America. Born into an illustrious rabbinical family in 1903 in Pruzhan, Poland, he immigrated to the United States in 1932, later to become Chief Rabbi of the Orthodox community of Boston, where he established the Maimonides School, the first Jewish day school in New England and one of the first institutions in which girls studied Talmud.

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