Kirkus Review: “This is not a simple retelling of Numbers but rather a Talmudic commentary of a high order based on artful Hebrew prose and poetry….Zornberg displays her own superior hermeneutic skills as she calls on the teachings of vaunted rabbinic authority, Midrashic tradition and the homilies of Hasidic masters…. A powerful, important textual deconstruction of the mystical fourth book of the Old Testament.”
“Zornberg’s grasp of the rabbinic interpretations of the text (as well as of Jewish philosophy generally) is masterful, and the meat of her work is in relating these interpretations to the spiritual and psychological questions, or bewilderments, evoked by the book of Numbers.” —Publishers Weekly
Jweekly, San Francisco: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/74336/off-the-shelf-new-books-about-the-bible-worth-reading-more-than-once/ Review by Amos Lassen: http://reviewsbyamoslassen.com/?p=35380 Jerusalem Posthttp://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Book-Review-Performer-of-Torah-395995 Amazon Customer Reviews There are not many great commentaries on the Book of Numbers By Anglican Bishop Joel Marcus Johnson on March 2, 2015: There are not many great commentaries on the Book of Numbers, but now comes Avivah Gottleib Zornberg’s “Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers” (Schocken 2015), hot off the press. I have long been an admirer of her work, first with “Genesis: The Beginning of Desire,” thence “The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus.” All three of these should grow to classic importance. I would assume at this point that she may be planning volumes on Leviticus and Deuteronomy, as well, giving us a full set of reflections on the entire Torah. More power to this marvelous literary commentator and philosopher. … But there is something new about this work, making it to stand out. She seems to me to have grown in literary dexterity, making this work far more accessible than those previous, even a joy to read. … First, buy “Bewilderments,” then go read the other two in reverse order, so as to receive the full Avivah impact. Second, I ask you, when was the last time you were jumping up and down to study Numbers? My answer is that you have never realized its historical and literary genius until you read Avivah.
Superb By Grant Barber I had feared that no more volumes by this superb author on the books of the Torah were forthcoming after those on Genesis and Exodus. One of those unexpected surprises that brightens up the day was to find this! Her mastery of her field might be rivaled by other Jewish scholars...I can barely keep up with my own Christian writers, let alone other faiths...but how could any surpass her? Edifying, insightful, encyclopedic...excellence and clarity.
See her BIO page above for a list of further publications.
New Photo courtesy of Joan Roth 2014
Teaching Schedule: Special lectures at MaTan 9am September 10 and 21 Avivah will resume teaching in Jerusalem after Succoth 2015 Thursdays 11:30am at MaTaN on Rashbag Israel Center Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm and Thursday mornings at 9am
North American Itinerary 2016
May 9 Chicago
May 10-15 SF Berkeley Bay Area
May 16 Santa Barbara
May 17-18 Los Angeles
May 22 Boston
May 23 NYC JCC Manhattan
May 24 NYC Brooklyn Public Library 7:30pm
Dweck Cultural Center, on the lower level of Central
Library at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
May 25 NYC Skirball at Temple Emmanuel
May 27-30 Toronto
June 2 Long Island
2015 Lecture Topics: 2016 Lecture topics will be chosen by the end of December
'Sing – now! – to God!' Miriam and Moses
Midrashic material will illuminate this
mysterious relationship. The history of Miriam, the prophetess who speaks
enviously of her brother Moses, offers an intimate glimpse of the tensions
between brother and sister, both leaders, both prophets.
from an Unknown Woman: Joseph's dream
Joseph dreams provocative dreams; his brothers' hatred grows because of them;
Jacob apparently dismisses them. But according to Freud, all dreams contain a
'navel,' a spot that defies understanding, that 'reaches into the unknown.' In
the midrash, that unfathomable element in the lives of Jacob and Joseph is
represented by Rachel, the 'unknown woman' in their narrative. Literature,
film, and psychoanalytic thought will enrich our study.
3. The Pit and the Rope: Recovering Joseph
We will explore the complex history of Joseph, left for dead in a
pit, sold as a slave, finally viceroy of Egypt. Consulting midrashic sources
and other commentaries, traditional and modern, we will attempt to trace the
trajectory of his inner life. Psychoanalytic and literary material will aid us
in our quest: What happened to the light in Joseph's face?
4. 'And I am a Stranger:' Becoming Ruth
Ruth is a stranger in more senses than one. Who is this unknown
woman who is destined to become mother of royalty? What is the process by which
she finds her way into a foreign and unwelcoming culture and religious
tradition? How does destiny come about?
5. From Another Shore: Moses and Korah
A political rebellion reveals its psychological
and theological underpinnings. We will explore midrashic and hassidic sources
that place the two leaders, Moses and Korach, in a relationship of radical
6. The Murmuring Deep
We will discuss Moses’
speech inhibition as a pivotal issue in the Exodus narrative. What is the
nature of this ‘impediment’? We will look at midrashic and hassidic sources, as
well as philosophical and psychoanalytic thinking on the role of voice in
7. 'Let me see that good land:' The Story of a
'Moses fails to enter Canaan not because his
life is too short but because it is a human life.' (Kafka) Moses' fundamental sense of
himself as 'not a man of words' comes to a poignant consummation in the long
speeches he makes to the people before he dies. What is his purpose in these
speeches, and particularly in his narrative about his desire to 'cross over to
the other side'(of the Jordan)?