PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY In this slim volume, acclaimed scholar and lecturer Zornberg (Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers) offers another richly textured and nuanced biblical study. Early on she sets an academic tone, writing of Moses that “he exists in a metonymic relation to the relation to the people who are, at first, both his and not his.” That kind of language will be a barrier to some, but those who persist will find Zornberg’s illuminating use of both midrash and literary sources, such as George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, worth the effort. She gives her commentary immediacy not usually found in similar titles by opening with an anecdote about her affecting experience during a rabbinical retreat, where she envisioned Moses pleading with God to allow him to enter the promised land. That blend of the personal and scholarly supports her ultimate argument about the biblical figure’s enduring significance: “Veiled and unveiled, he remains lodged in the Jewish imagination where in his uncompleted humanity he comes to represent the yet-unattained but attainable messianic future.” For those wishing to engage the legacy of Moses more deeply, this is a must-read. (Nov.)
A unique examination of Moses.In her latest book, National Jewish Book Award winner Zornberg (Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers, 2015, etc.) presents a rich, erudite study of Moses. This is a true readers' biography, drawing on a full range of commentators and writers, including the great ancient rabbis, more modern scholars and philosophers, and secular writers ranging from George Eliot to W.G. Sebald. The author seeks to find the human Moses behind the great biblical legend; this is not the same as seeking a "historical Moses" but instead, a discovery of the humanity behind the great leader of Israel. To do so, Zornberg painstakingly excavates seemingly familiar passages for hidden nuances and signs of Moses' own trials. She finds, among other things, a man of two cultures and two peoples yet comfortable in and accepted by neither. She finds a man lacking the confidence to address his people directly yet willing to make demands and complaints to God himself. She finds a man who encounters his people both veiled, and thus cryptic and unknowable, and also unveiled as a vulnerable leader. Finally, she finds in Moses a man who wrote his own story. What we know of Moses we know through the books of Moses. He is his own biographer. With the help of the many thinkers Zornberg cites, readers are introduced to nuanced yet eye-opening new views and interpretations of otherwise familiar texts. For instance, at the Burning Bush, God tells Moses, "they will listen to your voice," but Moses eventually argues, "they will not listen to my voice." God then delegates Aaron to do the speaking, but Zornberg asks if God's plans might have been more readily fulfilled had Moses himself believed in the promise and spoken for God as originally planned. A meaty, worthwhile biography by a great interpreter of Jewish texts.
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
See her BIO page above for a list of further publications.
New Photo courtesy of Joan Roth 2014
After Succoth at MATAN, Thursdays 11:30am. Classes will run until 23.3.17. + a few more in June. There will be classes at the Israel Center Thursdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 7.30 pm.
Her next American lecture tour is from April 25 to May 27, 2017. See below for details.
Granddaughter Zohar Leviah on Purim
Itinerary April-May 2017 April 25 JCC New York #2 7pm Manhattan 334 Amsterdam avenue at 76th street New York, NY 10023 , 646.505.5708 http://ebiz.jccmanhattan.org/personifyebusiness/Programs/ProgramDetail.aspx?pid=647335317&_ga=1.197581416.619085094.1464186032. April 26 Atlanta Congregation Shearith Israel 7:30pm #1 1180 University Dr. NE Atlanta, GA 30306 Phone: 404-873-1743 April 29 Atlanta Young Israel of Toco Hills #6 Young Israel of Toco Hills2056 LaVista Road Atlanta, GA 30329 Phone: 404-315-1417 Fax: 404-315-1433 www.yith.org April 30 Denver #2 Congregation Rodef Shalom at 7:00 p.m. 450 S. Kearney, Denver, CO 80224. May 1-3 San Francisco The Kitchen For details contact executive director Yoav Schlesinger firstname.lastname@example.org May 4 Los Altos #1 7pm Congregation Beth Am 26790 Arastradero Road Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 (650) 493-4661 May 5 Berkeley GTU #4 9:30am Dinner Board Room, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley CA 94709 May 7 Berkeley 7pm #6 Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince St, Berkeley, CA 94705 (510) 704-9687 May 8 Santa Barbara Congregation Bnai Brith #6 7:30pm 1000 San Antonio Creek Road Santa Barbara, CA 93111 (805)964-7869 May 9 LA Stephen Wise #1 7:30pm 15500 Stephen S. Wise Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90077 Email: LetsConnect@WiseLA.orgwww.wisela.org/cjl phone 888-380-WISE (9473) May 10 LA UCLA Hillel #4 UCLA 574 Hilgard Ave. dinner at 6, lecture at 7:30pm 310-208-3081 ext. 108 May 11-14 Toronto (no events scheduled) May 15 NSCI Glencoe, Chicago #1 North Shore Congregation Israel 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL 60022 Phone 847-835-0724 Fax847-835-5613 May 16 TLC Northbrook, Chicago #6 May 17 Boston Ma'ayan #5 7:30pm www.maayan.org Maimonides School in Brookline 34 Philbrick Road Brookline, MA 02445 · email@example.com May 19-20 Greenwich #1,#2 Friday Night: 8:00 pm, 2 Maher Ave. Saturday: Chabad, 75 Mason Street. May 21 NYC WAWI White Institute #5 7:30pm Bnai Jeshurun 257 W. 88 th St May 22 New Rochelle Women's Initiative for Jewish Studies (WIJS) at Young Israel of New Rochelle,#2 8pm 1149 North Avenue New Rochelle, NY 10804 Telephone: 914-636-2215 firstname.lastname@example.org May 23 NYC (formerly Skirball) 7pm #3 The Streicker Center Temple Emanuel 10 East 66th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. http://emanuelstreickernyc.org/events/of-women-and-mirrors/ May 27 NYC Riverdale HIR #4
Lecture topics 2017
'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?
'Let Me See That Good Land:' The Story of a Human Life '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)? We will read midrashic and hassidic material that raises questions about the movement of desire - about transitions, transmissions, and transferences. What does it mean to learn to speak?
Is redemption possible? Of Women and Mirrors The Egyptian exile is described in mystical sources as the Exile of the Word. If the Israelites are to be released from Egypt, an inner process of recovery will be necessary. Can the traumatic constrictions of a personal world find a new language that will open up larger possibilities?
What if Joseph Hates Us”? Closing the BookAs Genesis draws to its close, Joseph and his brothers have a final confrontation. Their father is dead and Joseph allays his brothers' fears of his vengeance. We will discuss the paradoxes of closure: When does forgiveness prevent a true closure? Does Joseph in fact forgive his brothers? We will explore traditional and modern commentaries, making use of literary and psychoanalytic material in our discussion.
Like hearing the grass grow: guilt, atonement, intimacy Moses' relation to God takes a poignant turn after the Golden Calf and the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Sin and atonement stand at the centre of the drama of sacrifice that is to take place in the Mishkan. But such atonement is possible only for inadvertent sin: Why is this so? And how does this relate to the Golden Calf, and to the new intimacy that Moses, representing his people, enters in his relation to God?
Isaac: Blindness and BlessingIsaac survives the Akeda - his Binding on an altar; he marries and fathers children. But what does it mean to survive death? In midrashic tradition, the trauma of the Binding induces in him a delayed blindness. With the help of midrashic, psychoanalytic and literary sources, we will explore the enigma of Isaac’s survival, and the ways this experience shapes his blind blessing of Jacob.