Friday, August 24, 2018

The Zohar Circles

Downtown San Francisco@Noon
Introduction to the 
Zohar Circle

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Are you Zohar curious?  Would you like to a "lunch-and-learn" circle of equally curious folks and read and discuss accessible selections from the Zohar?  If so, we have a weekly circle for you.  Professor Daniel Matt (see below for his class and biography) has selected a list of "good passages for studying or teaching in The Zohar: Pritzker Edition."  We will begin in Volume 1 of the Pritzker Edition, handouts provided.  You should also read "A Guide to the Zohar," by Rabbi Arthur Green.    

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, Senior Educator at HAMAQOM, will facilitate these weekly discussions.

East Bay and Peninsula Zohar Circles with Dr. Yosef Rosen and Rabbi Lavey Derby
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This year, the East Bay and Peninsula Zohar Circles will study the “early years” of the Zohar, Volume X of the Pritzker Edition. This volume is stylistically and theologically distinct from the rest of the Zohar, as it does not yet interpret the secrets of scripture solely through the lens of Kabbalah. Instead, pre-kabbalistic forms of Jewish mysticism, philosophy, and rabbinic modes of midrash are all woven together into a dazzling and innovative commentary on Genesis. This early section of Zohar is known as Midrash Ha-Ne’lam—”the Concealed Midrash.” As per the preface to Volume X, “Midrash Ha-Ne’lam stands at the very origin the Zoharic enterprise and presents the first fruits of the Zoharic world.” 

Whether you are a seasoned student of the Zohar or a curious first-timer, Midrash Ha-Ne’lam provides a unique and accessible portal into understanding the literary style and theological creativity of Zoharic literature. Themes of study will include the creation of the world through language, the journey of the soul, theological dissensus, and the emergence of Kabbalah. By focusing on this early section of the Zohar will will also be able to explore fundamental elements of the Zohar that can be mystifying in later layers of the Zohar. For beginners who want to go deep, or Zoharic veterans who want to go deeper into the spiritual mysteries of the Zohar, this is for you.        

Berkeley Zohar Circle
Yosef Rosen is an historian and teacher of Jewish creativity. His classes weave together the imaginative and social dimensions of Jewish creative genres—Kabbalah, Talmud, philosophy, and poetry—and invite students to discover their own genres of intellectual creativity. He is currently a Jewish Studies teacher at JCHS of the Bay. He has a PhD in Jewish Studies from UC Berkeley, where he completed a dissertation on representations of spiritual community in the Zohar. Before moving to the Bay seven years ago, Yosef spent many years in traditional and innovative yeshivot in both Israel and America. In his spare time he wanders the woodlands of Northern California and celebrates the hillsides of the Bay on his bike.

North Peninsula Zohar Circle

Rabbi Lavey Yitzchak Derby currently serves as Director of Jewish Life at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center. Previously, Rabbi Derby served as the rabbi of Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon, California, where he was instrumental in building a community built on the principles of Torah study, spiritual quest and practice, and social justice. Lavey has also served at the 92nd Street “Y” in New York, at CLAL: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and on the Wexner Heritage Foundation national faculty. He teaches extensively on Jewish subjects including the history of Jewish ideas, Talmud and Rabbinic thought, Kabbalah, Hasidism, contemporary Jewish spirituality and Jewish meditation. He is the eighth generation direct descendant of Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, for whom he is named, and is part of a family line of rabbis that traces back to the year 1500.

The Zohar in Aramaic Circle

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Daniel Matt
This special section of the Zohar program is led by Prof. Daniel Matt and is for students with the ability to follow the Zohar in the original (facility in either Hebrew or Aramaic). The Aramaic text will be provided (along with a Hebrew translation) and participants should also purchase Vol. 4 of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. Class size is limited.

Professor Daniel Matt, one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah, has been featured in Time Magazine and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah (translated into seven languages), Zohar: Annotated and Explained, and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality.

Several years ago, Professor Daniel Matt completed an 18-year project of translating and annotating the Zohar. This work, comprising nine volumes, has been published by Stanford University Press and is entitled The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. This edition has been honored with a National Jewish Book Award and a Koret Jewish Book Award. The Koret award called his translation “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.”

For twenty years, Daniel served as professor at the Center for Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley. He has also taught at Stanford and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.