Dr. Sharon Koren will present “Beyond Sibling Rivalry: Rachel and Leah in the Zohar” at Young Israel of New Rochelle on Wednesday, March 22, at 7:45 p.m. The lecture, which is free and open to women and men, is part of a continuing series at YINR sponsored by the Women’s Initiative for Jewish Studies.
In the Biblical text, Leah and Rachel are set up as sibling rivals from birth by nature and patriarchy. On every measure (except fertility)—i.e., age, beauty, affection—Rachel seems to emerge the winner.
The Kabbalists took a different view that reflected the theological needs and physical reality of 13th-century Jews living in Castile. Dr. Koren will discuss how the rabbis created a paradigm in which Leah—unwanted and unloved like the Jews of Castile—is actually the one closer to God.
Dr. Koren is associate professor of Medieval Jewish Culture at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York and is currently researching a book on the Matriarchs in the Zohar.