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Brother Rival / Sister Enemy: Literary and Kabbalistic Readings of Intimate Antagonism in the Bible

Dr. Nathaniel Berman, Rabbi David Silber / October 29, 2015

The Bible is filled with tales of enmity between intimates, rivals who are literal or figurative twins. We will look at the literary dimensions of the biblical narratives and will also look at the stories in relation to their interpretation and adaptation by the kabbalistic tradition, particularly by the Zohar, the central work of kabbalah. Though the assumptions that underlie modern literary analysis and kabbalistic mythology are quite different, we will find an uncanny convergence between their imaginative receptions of the biblical stories. Co-taught by Nathaniel Berman and David Silber.


Part 1 - 10/26/2015


Part 2 - 11/02/2015


Part 3 - 11/09/2015


Part 4 - 11/16/2015


Part 5 - 11/23/2015


Part 6 - 12/07/2015


Dr. Nathaniel Berman

Nathaniel Berman holds the Rahel Varnhagen Chair at Brown University, where he teaches in the Religious Studies Department. Nathaniel’s writing and teaching span a number of disciplines. As a legal historian, his work has focused on the modern construction of the “nation” and “religion” in tandem with the “international.” He is the author of, among many other publications, Passion and Ambivalence: Nationalism, Colonialism, and International Law (Brill 2011). In Jewish Studies, his work has focused on classical kabbalah, particularly the Zohar. He has taught widely in this field in the New York area, as well as at Brown. His book, Divine and Demonic in the Poetic Mythology of the Zohar: The “Other Side” of Kabbalah, will be published this year by Brill. Nathaniel holds a J.D. from Harvard and a PhD in Jewish Studies from University College London.


Rabbi David Silber

David Silber is the founder and dean of Drisha Institute for Jewish Education in New York and Israel. Rabbi Silber received ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is a recipient of the Covenant Award, for excellence in innovative Jewish education, and is the author of A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn (Jewish Publication Society 2011) and For Such a Time as This: Biblical Reflections in the Book of Esther (Koren Publishers 2017). He is also a nationally acclaimed lecturer on the Bible. Rabbi Silber is married to Dr. Devora Steinmetz. They have eight children and live in New York City. Click here to access other recorded classes by David Silber.


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