Wednesday, October 21, 2015

You Don't Mess with the Zohar

Scholar in Residence Weekend: Yes, it's true! Professor Daniel C. Matt, a (if not the) leading expert in Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) and the Zohar, its foundation text, is coming to Albuquerque!

More about Prof Matt's visit later. But first - Abq Jew begs your forgiveness, but he just couldn't help himself. In one of his all-too-rare middle-of-the-night epiphanies, Abq Jew has conjured up

Messing with the Zohar

Please allow Abq Jew to explain.

Debra Lynn Messing, Wikipedia tells us,
(born August 15, 1968) is an American actress. She is known for her television roles in Will & Grace, The Starter Wife, Smash and The Mysteries of Laura
Messing has received a total of six Emmy nominations, winning one, eight Screen Actors Guild nominations, winning one, and eight Golden Globe nominations.
More importantly:
Messing was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, the daughter of Sandra (née Simons; died 2014), who has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel and real estate agent, and Brian Messing, a sales executive for a costume jewelry packaging manufacturer. 
Messing is Jewish, and had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony; her ancestors emigrated from Poland and Russia. When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to East Greenwich, Rhode Island. 
In 1990, after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts, Messing gained admission to the elite Graduate Acting Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts which accepts approximately fifteen new students annually. She earned a Master of Fine Arts after three years.
And about the Zohar - Wikipedia tells us
The Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר, lit. "Splendor" or "Radiance") is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. 
It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and scriptural interpretations as well as material on mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology.  
The Zohar contains a discussion of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, redemption, the relationship of Ego to Darkness and "true self" to "The Light of God", and the relationship between the "universal energy" and man.  
The Zohar first appeared in Spain in the 13th century, and was published by a Jewish writer named Moses de Leon. 
De Leon ascribed the work to Shimon bar Yochai ("Rashbi"), a rabbi of the 2nd century during the Roman persecution who, according to Jewish legend, hid in a cave for thirteen years studying the Torah and was inspired by the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. 
This accords with the traditional claim by adherents that Kabbalah is the concealed part of the Oral Torah. 
While the traditional majority view in religious Judaism has been that the teachings of Kabbalah were revealed by God to Biblical figures such as Abraham and Moses and were then transmitted orally from the Biblical era until its redaction by Shimon bar Yochai, modern academic analysis of the Zohar, such as that by the 20th century religious historian Gershom Scholem, has theorized that De Leon was the actual author. 
And the Pritzker edition of the Zohar? Amazon tells us
Translated with commentary by Daniel C. Matt. 
This is the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Matt based on a wide range of original manuscripts. 
The extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifies the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and cites sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts. 
The translator's introduction is accompanied by a second introduction written by Arthur Green, discussing the origin and significance of the Zohar.

Yes, it is this very same Professor Daniel C. Matt who will be talking Kabbalah at various Albuquerque venues next (not this!) weekend.

Here is the lineup (click here for a printable version) of his mystical appearances:

Shekinah: The Feminine Half of God
6:00pm Erev Shabbat Service, October 30, Congregation Albert

One of the boldest contributions of Kabbalah is the idea that God is equally female and male. Daniel Matt will briefly trace the development of Kabbalah and then focus on the concept of Shekhinah.

The Zohar: Mystical Masterpiece of Kabbalah
12:00 pm Torah Study, Saturday, October 31, B’nai Israel

How does the Zohar interpret and reimagine the Torah? How does its mystical approach differ from the literal approach? How can it bring the Torah alive for us today? Daniel Matt will explore these questions with us by teaching several passages from the Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony
       Between Science & Spirituality
4:30 pm, Saturday, October 31, Nahalat Shalom

Daniel Matt will present a lecture exploring the parallels between Kabbalah and contemporary cosmology. How does the mystical understanding of Creation compare with the modern theory of the origin of the universe? Is there a way to harmonize these two approaches , the scientific and the spiritual?

Raising the Sparks: Finding God in the Material World
10:00 am Sunday, November 1, Congregation Albert

How can God be encountered in our daily life? Daniel Matt will explore this question with us by teaching from Kabbalah and Hasidism on the nature of God, the act of Creation, and the challenge of discovering God in the material world.

Who is responsible for this? Abq Jew hears you ask.

In an all-too-rare joint community effort, this Scholar in Residence Weekend is sponsored by (in strictly alphabetical order): Congregation Albert; Congregation B’nai Israel; Congregation Nahalat Shalom; the Jewish Federation of New Mexico; and the Rabbinical and Cantorial Association of Albuquerque.

Here is a forshbite (that's Yiddish for hors d'oeuvres, one of the most-looked-up words on the Internet) of what's in store for Albuquerque. 

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