Thursday, May 12, 2016

The blessing that is Aviva Zornberg

היום תשעה עשר יום שהם שני שבועות וחמשה ימים בעמר
Today is nineteen days--that is two weeks and five days--of the omer
הוד שתפארת
A day of humility in a week of compassion

As mentioned yesterday, I've spent time this week learning from one of the premier biblical scholars of our time, Dr. Aviva Zornberg. It was amazing to be lead through the journey of Moses' life, both within each of the four teaching sessions and on the path from session to session--from his birth to his death. There's so much to absorb, processing the meanings contained in the trajectory of Moses' growth within himself, his complicated relationship with the Israelite people, and his intimate, but sometimes difficult connection with God.

But as special as having this time with this incredible teacher was to also get a chance to hear a bit about her life and how she came to this calling. She had a religious upbringing in Scotland, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Her father became her teacher from an early age, passing his knowledge and wisdom of Tanach. Aviva admitted that she might have benefitted from the fact that she had no brothers, something that is certainly our gain :) She said she teaches in his lecture style, which is how she is able to take us on these 45 minute journeys in Torah, weaving in so much content but never losing her way. 

I got to ask her if she ever took into account the voice of who wrote the various parts of the Tanach, or the layer that the Masorite scribes added to the writing as they cemented the pronunciations and patterns of the chant. She said no, neither of those factors concerned her. She looks to what the text speaks to her, looking at what is there, accepting its inspired sacredness.

Throughout these teachings with this small group, she gave us glimpses of her life. She noted that, feeling the intimacy of the moments. It was such a blessing to learn from and with her, and it was time I will cherish.

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