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Weekend with Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Daniel C. Matt

From Kabbalah to the Big Bang:
Ancient Wisdom and Contemporary Spirituality

Dr. Daniel Matt, one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah, will introduce us to some of the central themes of the Jewish mystical tradition.

Friday, November 8

7:30 pm Shabbat Service
During the service, Professor Matt will speak on the concept of Shekhinah (the feminine aspect of God). One of the boldest contributions of Kabbalah is the idea that God is equally female and male. Dr. Matt will briefly trace the development of Kabbalah and then focus on the concept of Shekhinah from its rabbinic origins to its full flowering in the Zohar, where Shekhinah is identified with the Sabbath Bride.

Saturday, November 9

9:00 am Shabbat Minyan Service
During minyan, our Scholar-in-Residence will speak on The Mystical Meaning of Torah — Parashat Lech Lecha. How does the mystical approach to Torah differ from a literal approach? From a midrashic approach? How can a mystical approach enrich our lives today? Daniel Matt will explore these questions with us by teaching several passages from his award-winning translation, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

11:00 am Lunch  RSVPs requested; Lunch RSVP Here by Tuesday, November 5

11:45 am Teaching on The Zohar: Masterpiece of Kabbalah
The Zohar emerged in 13th-century Spain. How exactly did it originate and what is its significance for us today? How does this mystical masterpiece interpret and reimagine the Torah? Professor Matt will explore these questions with us by teaching several passages from his book, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

6:00 pm Light Dinner. RSVPs requested;  Dinner RSVP Here by Thursday, November 7

7:00 pm Havdalah followed by Talk on Raising the Sparks: Finding God in the Material World
How can God be encountered in our daily life? Dr. Matt will explore this question with us by teaching passages from Kabbalah and Hasidism on the nature of God, the act of Creation, and the challenge of discovering God in the material world.

Sunday, November 10

9:15 am Isaiah Breakfast Program on God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality

The theory of the Big Bang serves as the scientific creation myth of our culture. What does it have to do with God? How can it help us discover a spiritual dimension in our lives and recover a sense of wonder? To answer these questions, Daniel Matt will draw on the insights of Kabbalah as well as contemporary cosmology. Among the parallels he will briefly explore are:

  1. The Kabbalistic idea of “the breaking of the vessels,” which led to Creation, compared with the scientific theory of “broken symmetry,” which led to the formation of matter.
  2. The primordial Ayin (“No-thingness”) of Kabbalah, from which all beings emerged, compared with the scientific theory of the primordial vacuum, out of which virtual particles flashed into existence.

In juxtaposing these two distinct approaches—scientific and spiritual — Dr. Matt seeks to see each in light of the other. Spirituality and science are two tools of understanding that should not be confused; each is valid in its domain. Occasionally, though, scientific and spiritual insights resonate. By sensing these resonances, our understanding deepens.

The Breakfast Program is sponsored by Brotherhood and includes a buffet breakfast. Admission is $10; free to Brotherhood members.

Dr. Daniel Matt has been featured in Time and Newsweek and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah, Zohar: Annotated and Explained, and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality. Dr. Matt was honored with a National Jewish Book Award and a Koret Jewish Book Award for his ninth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

Professor Matt received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and served as professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Sat, February 29 2020 4 Adar 5780