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"This is not a simple retelling of the book of Numbers but, rather, a commentary of a high order based on artful Hebrew prose and poetry. Zornberg displays her own superior hermeneutic skills as she calls on the teachings of vaunted rabbinic authorities, Midrashic tradition, and the homilies of Hasidic masters. [She also] incorporates psychiatry, philosophy, and world literature into the study of Holy Writ. A powerful, important textual deconstruction of the mystical fourth book of the Old Testament." --Kirkus Reviews
From the Publisher
Through the magnificent literary, scholarly, and psychological analysis of the text that is her trademark, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg tackles the enduring puzzlement of the book of Numbers. What should have been for the Israelites a brief journey from Mount Sinai to the Holy Land becomes a forty-year death march. Both before and after the devastating report of the Spies, the narrative centers on the people's desire to return to slavery in Egypt. At its heart are speeches of complaint and lament. But in the narrative of the book of Numbers that is found in mystical and Hasidic sources, the generation of the wilderness emerges as one of extraordinary spiritual experience, fed on miracles and nurtured directly by God: a generation of ecstatic faith, human partners in an unprecedented conversation with the Deity. Drawing on kabbalistic sources, the Hasidic commentators depict a people who transcend prudent considerations in order to follow God into the wilderness, where their spiritual yearning comes to full expression.Is there a way to integrate this narrative of dark murmurings, of obsessive fantasies of a return to Egypt, with the celebration of a love-intoxicated wilderness discourse? What effect does the cumulative trauma of slavery, the miracles of Exodus, and the revelation at Sinai have on a nation that is beginning to speak? In Bewilderments, one of our most admired biblical commentators suggests fascinating answers to these questions.