Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Avivah Zornberg on Travail-ing and Laughing

היום תשעה ועשרים יום שהם ארבעה שבועות ויום אחד בעמר
Today is the twenty-ninth day, making four weeks and one day of the omer
חסד שבהוד

A day of loving kindness in a week of humility

On Monday evening I went to the JCCSF to hear a teaching from Dr. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, one of this generation's premier commentators on Jewish sacred texts. Her subject that night was the parsha Lech Lecha, centering on the traveling - travail-ing of Abraham and the laughter of Sarah. I'm not going to go into the specifics of her presentation--that would a) take too long and b) there's no way I could give it justice. But in looking at my notes from the evening, I've find I preserved some phrases, some short points, that I find myself drawn to both in terms of studying Lech Lecha and in terms of looking at one's life. Below I share some with you.
Abraham was constantly traveling - "travail-ing" - always on the move, his story is a traveler's history.

The role of Abraham was to teach and reveal the glory of God in the world. "Lech Lecha" is to go to yourself--Abraham responds to the challenge.

If you know where you're going, you're already there. So, you have to experience a letting go, a travail, a laughter on the journey, before you can arrive.

Abraham's influence diffuses into the world like perfume.

Abraham's journey is a journey of madness. He doesn't know where he's going--he's destabilized.

Laughter has an element of play - of seeing something wondrous.

Laughter reveals the limit of experience.

Laughter is at the heart of faith, when strange flows can begin.

Laughter of Sarah makes closed things open.

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