Full Professor of Jewish Thought, The Jewish Theological Seminary (2022-present) Associate Professor of Jewish Thought (tenured), The Jewish Theological Seminary (2013-2022) Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought, The Jewish Theological Seminary (2006-2013) Assistant Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion (2003-2006) Visiting Instructor, Department of Religion, Carleton College (2002-2003)
Ph.D. (2003) Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) Dissertation awarded the Nahum and Anne Glatzer Prize for Outstanding Achievement Graduate study, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1998-99) B.A., summa cum laude (1997) Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University Undergraduate study, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1995-96)
SELECTED HONORS AND AWARDS
Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Fellowship (2016-2017)
Chancellor’s Fellow, JTS (2015-2016)
Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2011)
Hartman North America Scholars Circle Fellowship, declined (2010)
Lucius N. Littauer Foundation Subvention Grant for publication of first book (2008)
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend (2004)
Nahum and Anne Glatzer Endowed Prize for Outstanding Achievement by a Graduate Student (dissertation prize) in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University (2003)
Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Fellowship (2002-2003)
Eugene Franzblau Doctoral Fellowship, Brandeis University (2000-2001)
Ruth Ann Perlmutter Doctoral Fellowship, Brandeis University (1997-2000)
Inter-University Graduate Fellow, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1998-1999)
High Undergraduate Honors in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University (Spring 1997)
Summa Cum Laude, Brandeis University (Spring 1997)
Phi Beta Kappa Award (Spring 1997)
Samuel and Jennie Raucher Prize, Brandeis University (Spring 1997)
Brandeis University Scholar Award (1995-1996)
Undergraduate Fellow Award, Brandeis University (1994-1995)
The Art of Mystical Narrative:APoetics of the Zohar (Oxford University Press, 2018).
As Light Before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist (Stanford University Press, 2009).
Academic Works in Progress:
The Sabbath in Hasidic Thought
Self & Identity in Sixteenth Century Kabbalah
The Zohar as Mystical Poetry
The Sabbath Soul: Mystical Reflections on the Transformative Power of Holy Time (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2012).
Shadows in Winter (Syracuse University Press, Library of Modern Jewish Literature, 2011). Selected as one of “The Best Jewish Books of 2011” by D. G. Myers for Jewish Ideas Daily.
Ed., Jewish Renaissance and Revival in America (Brandeis University Press, 2011), co-editor.
Ed., Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2010), co-editor.
Embers of Pilgrimage: Poems (Panui Poetry Series, 2021)
“Kabbalah as Literature,” in Ken Seigneurie, Christopher Lupke, Frieda Ekotto, B. Venkat Mani, Ilaria Ramelli, and Susan Noakes, eds., The Wiley Blackwell Companion to World Literature (2018).
“Light and Darkness in Medieval and Modern Judaism” (with Gerold Necker) in The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception 13 (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2018).
Mystical Consciousness and Homiletical Method in Sefer Degel Maḥaneh Efrayim: Critical Hermeneutics, Theology, and Neo-ḥasidic Pedagogy” forthcoming in Elie Holzer, ed., Ways of Learning, Ways of Becoming: Neo-Hasidic Teaching of the Hasidic Homily (Academic Studies Press).
“Mystical Friendship in the Zohar,” forthcoming in Lawrence Fine, ed., Friendship in Jewish Culture (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018).
“The Sabbath in Later Hasidic Thought” in Alan Mittleman, ed., Holiness in Jewish Thought (Oxford University Press, 2018).
“The Shape of Genre: Between Narrative and Exegesis in the Zohar,” forthcoming in Yehuda Liebes, Melila Hellner-Eshed, and Yonatan Benarroch, eds., Ha-Sippur ha-Zohari (Jerusalem: Makhon Ben Tzvi, 2017. In Hebrew.
“Isaac ben Samuel of Acre” in The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception 13 (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2016).
“Perceptions of Greatness: Constructions of the Holy Man in Shivḥei ha-Ari,” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 27 (2012): 195-221.
“The Zohar: Masterpiece of Jewish Mysticism” in Frederick Greenspahn, ed., Jewish Mysticism: New Insights and Scholarship (New York: New York University Press, 2011), pp. 49-67.
“Representation and the Boundaries of Realism: Reading the Fantastic in Zoharic Fiction,” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 23 (2010): 105-119.
“The Scent of the Rose: Drama, Fiction, and Narrative Form in the Zohar,” Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History 29 (2009): 324-361.
“A Chariot for the Shekhinah: Identity and the Ideal Life in Sixteenth Century Kabbalah,” Journal ofReligious Ethics 37:3 (2009): 385-418.
“The Speech of Being, the Voice of God: Phonetic Mysticism in the Kabbalah of Asher ben David and his Contemporaries,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 98:4 (2008): 485-521.
“Jewish Mystical Hermeneutics: On the Work of Moshe Idel,” Journal of Religion 85:1 (January 2005): 94-103.
“Authority, Tradition, and the Creation of Meaning in Medieval Kabbalah: Isaac of Acre’s Illuminationof the Eyes,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72:1 (2004): 59-95.
“Tears of Disclosure: The Role of Weeping in Zoharic Narrative,” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 11:1 (2002): 25-47.
“Mystical Contemplation and the Limits of the Mind: The Case of Sheqel ha- Qodesh,” Jewish Quarterly Review 93:2 (2002): 1-27.
Academic Articles in Preparation:
“Emotion, Ethics, and Mystical Piety in SeferReishit Ḥokhmah, and Sefer Shenei Luhot ha-Berit” forthcoming in Fine, Hecker, and Kara-Ivanov Kaniel, eds., Emotions and Emotional Life in Jewish Mysticism.
“Reincarnation and Personal Identity in R. Hayyim Vital’s Sha‘ar ha-Gilgulim” forthcoming in Gondos, Sachs-Shmueli, and Schnytzer eds., Reincarnation in Jewish Mysticism: From the Middle Ages to the Modern Period.
“The Zohar as Medieval Jewish Romance” forthcoming in Caroline Gruenbaum and Annegret Oehme, eds., Jewish Medieval Romance (ARC Humanities Press).
“Virtue Ethics in the Zohar” forthcoming in Mittleman, Claussen, and Green, eds., Jewish Virtue Ethics (SUNY Press).
"Mystical Autobiography in Sixteenth Century Kabbalah" forthcoming in Eitan P. Fishbane and Elisha Russ-Fishbane, eds., Jewish Culture and Creativity: Essays in Honor of Professor Michael Fishbane on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Academic Studies Press, 2023).
Other Essays and Reviews:
“The Book of Radiance,” The Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2018 Issue (a commissioned review essay on the 12 volume project, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition). 4500 words
“Happy Is the People Who Knows the Blast,” The Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2019, commissioned translation, introduction, and commentary on a classic hasidic homiletical text.
Review of Peter Cole, The Poetry of Kabbalah, Forward, April 17, 2012.
“God as the Breath of Life” in Elliot Cosgrove, ed., Jewish Theology in Our Time: A New Generation Explores the Foundations and Future of Jewish Belief (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2010), pp. 11-16.
“Opening to the Mystery,” Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, October 2009.
Review of Joel Hecker, Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals: Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah, AJS Review 31 (2007): 388-391.
“Wisdom, Balance, Healing: Reflections on Mind and Body in an Early Hasidic Text” in William Cutter, ed., Healing and the Jewish Imagination (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007), pp. 63-74.
“From the Hidden to the Revealed,” CCAR Journal (Fall 2007): 86-98.
Review of McAuliffe, Walfish, and Goering, eds., With Reverence for the Word: Medieval Scriptural Exegesis in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), Jewish Quarterly Review 96 (2006): 268-271.
ACADEMIC PRESENTATIONS AND ACTIVITIES (Selected)
Book Review Editor for Jewish Mysticism at Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Division Chair for Jewish Mysticism, Association for Jewish Studies (2017-2020).
Panel judge for Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Fellowships, making final recommendations to the Foundation’s Executive Director (2015-).
Participated in symposium devoted to my new book, The Art of Mystical Narrative, at JTS on November 27, 2018.
Participated in symposium devoted to my new book, The Art of Mystical Narrative, at Makhon Schocken in Jerusalem on January 2, 2019.
“On the Metaphysics of Time in Ḥasidic Mysticism,” paper delivered at the 2019 conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) in San Diego, CA.
“Breaking the Shells of Yirʾah: On Emotion, Ethics, and Mystical Piety in R. Eliyahu de Vidas’s SeferReishit Ḥokhmah,” paper composed for and discussed at AJS Seminar on “Emotions in Jewish Mysticism” (December, 2018).
Organized and chaired AJS Seminar on “Human Nature in Jewish Mysticism: Body, Soul, Psychology, Ethics” (December, 2017).
“Personal Identity and the Ontology of the Soul in Sixteenth Century Kabbalah,” paper composed for and discussed at AJS Seminar on “Human Nature in Jewish Mysticism” (December, 2017).
Organized guest lecture at JTS by Prof. Jonathan Garb of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (“Scholem’s Major Trends Revisited”), with a response by me (Nov. 2017).
“Hasidic Reflections on the Holidays Then & Now: Historical Models and the Contemporary Turn to Constructive Neo-Hasidic Theology,” invited presentation delivered at 2017 conference, “In the Wake of Neo-Hasidism” — funded by the Israel Science Foundation and held at the Van Leer Conference Center in Jerusalem, Israel.
“A Typology of Character in Zoharic Narrative,” paper delivered at the 2015 conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS).
“Orality and Textuality in the Zohar,” paper delivered at the Melton Coalition Conference, hosted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (December, 2014).
“Miracles and Divine Providence in Zoharic Narrative,” paper delivered at seminar on “The Zoharic Story” at the 2013 conference of the AJS in Boston, MA (December, 2013).
Delivered invited lecture on Kabbalah and the Zohar at Colby College (November, 2013).
“The Zoharic Frametale in Context: Correlations to the Fictional Creativity of Yehudah Al Harizi,” paper delivered at the 2013 International Conference on Hebrew Language, Literature and Culture (NAPH / JTS — June, 2013).
“The Lyrical Plane of the Zohar,” paper delivered at the 2012 conference of the AJS in Chicago, IL (December, 2012).
Organized session on “Literary Approaches to the Study of the Zohar” and delivered paper on this topic at the 2011 conference of the AJS in Washington, D.C.
Working group on “Holiness” at Princeton University: 3 meetings during the 2009-2010 academic year; organized and funded by the Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought at Princeton University. Presented on “Sacred Time in Hasidic Thought.”
“Narrative Voice in the Zohar,” paper delivered at the 2009 conference of the AJS in Los Angeles, CA (December, 2009).
“Between Kabbalah and Fiction: Reading the Zohar as Literature,” presentation delivered at Colby College in Waterville, Maine (November, 2009).
“Encounters Along the Way: Narrative Technique and Mystical Discovery in the Zohar,” invited lecture delivered at The Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University (May, 2009).
“The Holiness of Shabbat: Sacred Time in Hasidic Mysticism,” presentation delivered to the Holiness Working Group at Princeton University, a division of the Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought at Princeton, (March, 2009).
“The Zohar: Mystical Imagination and Literary Craft,” presentation delivered at two-day conference on “Jewish Mysticism—New Insights and Scholarship” at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL (February, 2009).
“An Invented World: Kabbalah and Literary Form in the Zohar,” invited lecture delivered at UCLA (February of 2008).
“Dramatic Monologue and the Question of Genre in Zoharic Narrative,” composed for the 2007 meeting of the AJS in Toronto (December, 2007).
“Perceptions of Greatness: Constructions of the Holy Man in Kabbalistic Literature,” composed for the 2006 meeting of the AJS in San Diego, California (December, 2006).
“Cultivation and Representation: Images and Ideals of the Self in Sixteenth Century Kabbalah,” paper delivered at the Faculty Research Workshop of the Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA (May, 2006).
“Constructions of the Self in Jewish Mystical Literature,” paper delivered at the 2005 conference of the AJS in Washington, D.C.
“The Interpretation of Scripture in Jewish Mysticism,” organized and delivered paper at symposium on comparative mysticism (the other two participating scholars were Profs. Bernard McGinn and Michael Sells of the University of Chicago) at Congregation Emanu-El in New York City (January, 2004).
“Jewish Mystical Theology,” part II of three-scholar symposium mentioned above, at Congregation Emanu-El in New York City (March, 2005).
Consulting reviewer of submissions for: Yale University Press; Brandeis University Press / University Press of New England; Stanford University Press; Oxford University Press; The University of Pennsylvania Press; Academic Studies Press; The Jewish Quarterly Review; The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy; Literature and Theology (Oxford); The Journal of Religion (Chicago); Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History
COURSES TAUGHT AT JTS
The Zohar as Mystical Poetry
Field, Tree, Sun & Moon: Nature as Place and Literary Symbol in the Zohare Zo
Jewish Mysticism Through the Ages
Mysticism and the Moral Life
Shenei Luḥot ha-Berit: A Classic of Early Modern Mysticism & Ethics
Contemporary Jewish Mysticism
Medieval Jewish Thought and Theology
The Teachings of R. Nahman of Bratzlav
Between Theology and Narrative: The Literary Craft of the Zohar
The Mystical Thought of Hasidism: From the Ba‘al Shem Tov to the Present
The Ba‘al Shem Tov’s Grandson: The Mystical Derashot of Sefer Degel Maḥaneh Efrayim
Hasidic Derashot: Mysticism, Piety, and Homiletics
Hasidic Derashot for the Contemporary Spiritual Moment
Hasidic Mystics on the Meaning of the Holidays
Mystical Prayer: From Kabbalah to Hasidism
Jewish Mysticism in the Twentieth Century
Self, Identity, and the Ideal Life in Sixteenth-Century Kabbalah
The Spiritual Meaning of Shabbat in Hasidic Mysticism
Perceptions of Greatness: Constructions of the Holy Man in Jewish Mystical Literature
Literature of the Spiritual Life: A Comparative Course
PaRDeS: Midrash, Mysticism, & Ethics in the Writings of Bahya ben Asher