A Bearable Lightness

A Bearable Lightness

Feb 22, 2019 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Ki Tissa

In this week’s parashah, we encounter two iconic moments in the epic story of Benei Yisra’el and their reception of the Torah. The first is known as the sin of the golden calf, when the impatience of the people waiting for Moshe’s return leads to their worship of a gleaming physical form in place of God, their redeemer. This narrative event comes to be not only a climax in the biblical story, but also serves as the paradigmatic image of idolatry through two millennia of Jewish theology. The second iconic moment occurs upon Moshe’s descent from Mount Sinai, holding the two tablets of the covenant made with the finger of God. Encountering this ultimate violation, Moshe dramatically smashes the sacred tablets at the foot of Sinai.

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The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Zohar Symposium

The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Zohar Symposium

Nov 27, 2018 By Eitan Fishbane | Public Event video

In The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Poetics of the ZoharDr. Eitan Fishbane reveals the Zohar as an extraordinary narrative—the tale of a wandering kabbalist sage seeking wisdom in ancient Galilee. Along with experts in Kabbalah, medieval Jewish culture, and Jewish literature, he discusses the narrative and poetic features of the Zohar in the context of comparative literature and spirituality.

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Yosef: A Light in the Darkness

Yosef: A Light in the Darkness

Dec 8, 2017 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Vayeshev | Hanukkah

Parashat Vayeshev takes us deep into the pain and alienation of being human, of yearning from a low place of darkness and suffering. And yet the narrative also conveys the power of hope—a longing for God and redemption, for spiritual and moral healing in our human relationships.

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Becoming Like the Wilderness

Becoming Like the Wilderness

May 26, 2017 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Bemidbar

With the start of Sefer Bemidbar, the narrative of the Torah turns to the long journey of Benei Yisrael through the wilderness—punishment for the sin of the Golden Calf and preparation for entry into the Land of Israel. Passage into the sacred terrain first requires an arduous ordeal of wandering—a physical process of movement and quest. Penitence, pilgrimage, and transformation are anchored in the space of wilderness.

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A Heart of Compassion and Forgiveness

A Heart of Compassion and Forgiveness

Sep 26, 2016 By Eitan Fishbane | Short Video | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

Forgiving and Asking Forgiveness: Sound Bytes for the High Holidays 5777

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The Landscape of Revelation

The Landscape of Revelation

Jan 2, 2016 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Shemot

“Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. . .The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?…”

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Written on the Heart

Written on the Heart

Feb 27, 2015 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Tetzavveh | Shabbat Zakhor

The mitzvot are a path of spiritual practice, a cultivation of religious awareness that may open us to the mystery and urgency of the divine voice. Not only legal obligation, mitzvah is a moment of encounter with the ever-renewing Divine Presence as it reverberates through the generations of the Jewish people.

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Terumah – The Gift That Elevates

Terumah – The Gift That Elevates

Jan 29, 2014 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Terumah

Sometimes we all feel like we’re giving more than we get, that we do more than our share, or that our individual needs are being sacrificed for the sake of someone else’s happiness.

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As Light Before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist

As Light Before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist

Oct 5, 2012 By Eitan Fishbane | Public Event video

Dr. Eitan Fishbane, assistant professor in the Department of Jewish Though, discusses his new book “As Light Before Dawn- The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist” in this book talk held through The Library of JTS.

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Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life

Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life

Oct 27, 2011 By Eitan Fishbane | Public Event audio

Eitan Fishbane, assistant professor in the Department of Jewish Thought of The Jewish Theological Seminary, presents a Library book talk on Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections.

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Awakening to the Divine Radiance

Awakening to the Divine Radiance

Feb 6, 2010 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Yitro

This Shabbat we read the most pivotal narrative in all of scripture: the revelation of God to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, the reception of the Torah as the divine word transmitted through Moses. From this moment forth, everything changes. The people enter into a covenantal relationship with God; they accept the life of mitzvot as their responsibility and the obligation of their descendents. At the heart of this narrative is the transmission of the Ten Commandments (or the Ten Statements [aseret ha-dibbrot]), the core principles understood by later Jewish tradition to be the root and foundation of all the mitzvot, the fabric of Jewish religious life.

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Preparing Ourselves to Receive Shabbat

Preparing Ourselves to Receive Shabbat

Mar 20, 2009 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

“On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord . . .”

So begins the speech of Moses to the Israelites in Parashat Va-yakhel. But the text almost immediately shifts to discuss the intricate details of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its construction at great length, neglecting any elaboration on the opening commandment. This move leaves the reader wondering why Shabbat was mentioned here at all! Indeed, this strange juxtaposition is remarkably similar to last week’s parashah (Ki Tissa). In that case, the Shabbat commandment is placed after remarks about the Mishkan—though there too its mention is brief and seemingly out of place.

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