Monday, April 22, 2013
Aviva Zornberg - Part 3
היום שבעה ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות וששה ימים בעמר
Today is twenty-seven days, which is three weeks and six days of the omer
A day of foundation in a week of perseverance
Last night I attended my third Aviva Zornberg event in two days. This one was in Berkeley at the Graduate Theological Seminary. Once again, I have to synthesize it myself before I will attempt to share the full teaching. I'll just give you some bits to "chew" on.
This teaching centered around Yakov, his wife Rachel, and his mother Rifka. The spark was two small pieces of Torah. The vow that Yakov made after his dream of the ladder - Bereshit 28:20-21 "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: 'If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come back to my father's house in peace." And one small piece of information that seems to stand alone - Bereshit 35:8 - "And Deborah, Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried below Beth-el under the oak; and the name of it was called Allon-bacuth."
Rifka, the Torah tells us, loved Yakov and favored him over his brother, Esau. But she has her own identity issues, and those issues are carried out through her relationship with Yakov. Yakov has this special bond with his mother, but that is also complicated. He is not there when she dies, and is only able to mourn her through the death of her nurse, Deborah. She is buried at the place of his dream, at Beth-el. His is not as able to mourn is love, Rachel. She dies in childbirth and, feeling what is happening, wants to call her son "Ben-oni" - child of pain, child of mourning. But Yakov, in denial perhaps, calls his Benjamin - child of strength, child of long-life. Whose strength - whose long life.
There is much more, but I need to process first. I will not be able to reproduce the teaching, but I can find a way to take the learning and make it part of my Torah. And, as is our tradition, I will always give this teaching in the name of the teacher--the amazing Aviva Zornberg. And I will chew on this myself throughout the year. Then she will return to give me more food for thought.