The Jewish Eye
Rabbeinu Yonah of Girondi
Rabbeinu Yonah of Girondi was born in 4940/1180 in Gerona, Spain and died in 5024/1263 in Toledo, Spain. He was a first cousin of the Ramban and his daughter married the son of the Ramban. He was the Rebbi of the Rashba and the Ra'ah among other. In his youth he traveled to France to learn under one of the Baalei Tosofos, Rav Shlomo Min HaHar (Montpelier).
He was a fierce opponent of the Rambam's philosophical views and is considered to have been instrumental in having the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim burned by the non-Jewish authorities in Paris in 1233. The tragic burning of 24 wagon loads of Gemaros that were burned in the same square by the Church in 1242 sparked Rabbeinu Yonah to regret his past views and publicly admit his terrible mistake regarding the Rambam. While he promised to go to the Rambam's kever in Eretz Yisroel to ask Mechila he returned to Spain and died there never having made it to Eretz Yisroel. He was considered from the greatest of his generation and his death was mourned throughout the world. The Ramban wrote a moving Kinah about his greatness upon his death.
His sefer Shaarei Teshuva is considered one of the all time greatest Mussar works. Rav Chaim Volozhin once commented that each mussar sefer is not appropriate for all people. While some may benefit from one someone else may only benefit from another. However he said, Shaarei Teshuva is appropriate for every Jewish soul for all eras in all situations.
Rabbeinu Yonah's other published works include a Peirush on Pirkei Avos, Mishlei, Sefer haYirah, and Igeres HaYirah. On Gemara he wrote Alias D'Rabbeinu Yonah and his students wrote Rabbeinu Yonah Al HaRif.
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