Eitan Fishbane

Associate Professor of Jewish Thought

Department: Jewish Thought

Phone: (212) 678-8864

Email: eifishbane@jtsa.edu

Building Room: Unterberg 603

Office Hours: By Appointment

BIOGRAPHY

BA, summa cum laude, and PhD, Brandeis University

Dr. Eitan P. Fishbane is associate professor of Jewish Thought at JTS, where he teaches courses in the literature and history of Jewish mysticism, from medieval Kabbalah to modern Hasidism. The author or editor of six books, the latest of which was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press, Dr. Fishbane has devoted his research and writing primarily to the development of Kabbalah in medieval Spain. At present his scholarship is devoted to three main topics: The Zohar as mystical poetry; The Sabbath and sacred time in hasidic mysticism; and ideas of the self and identity in the Kabbalah.  

Dr. Fishbane has been a member of the Seminary faculty since 2006, participating in governance through his service on the Faculty Executive Committee, the Rabbinical School Council, the faculty committees of the Gershon Kekst Graduate School and the Department of Community Engagement, and as advisor for BA and MA concentrators in Jewish Thought. Actively involved in the mentoring of PhD, DHL, rabbinical, and undergraduate students, Dr. Fishbane seeks to integrate advanced scholarship and the cultivation of contemporary spiritual meaning. From 2017-2020, he served as Division Chair for Jewish Mysticism at The Association for Jewish Studies. Before coming to JTS, he served on the faculties of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and in the Department of Religion at Carleton College. 

Dr. Fishbane is a regular scholar-in-residence and guest speaker at congregations across North America. The recipient of many honors and awards, he holds a BA, summa cum laude, and a PhD from Brandeis University. 

SELECTED FELLOWSHIPS, AWARDS, AND HONORS

  • Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship (American Council of Learned Societies) 
  • Chancellor’s Fellow (2015-2016) 
  • Lucius N. Littauer Foundation 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 Award (2002–2003) 

PUBLICATIONS

Academic Books:

Academic Books in Progress:

  • Shabbat and Sacred Time in Hasidic Mysticism
  • The Zohar as Mystical Poetry
  • Construction of the Self in Sixteenth Century Kabbalah

Other Books:

Academic Articles:

  • “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 Maaneh 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” 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 Shivei 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 of Religious 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 Illumination of 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 Sefer Reishit okhmah, 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: An Annotated Bibliography” forthcoming in Oxford Bibliographies Online.
  • “Toward Virtue Ethics in Kabbalah and Hasidism” forthcoming in Mittleman, Claussen, and Green, eds., Jewish Virtue Ethics (SUNY Press)

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: Kabbalah as a Spiritual Resource in Our Day,” 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.
  • From Darkness to Light: Entering Holy Time.” The Huffington Post, December 8, 2011.
  • Preparing Ourselves to Receive Shabbat.” JTS Torah Commentary, March 20, 2009.
  • Awakening to the Divine Radiance.” JTS Torah Commentary, February 6, 2010.
  • Terumah—The Gift That Elevates.” JTS Torah Commentary, January 29, 2014.
  • Written on the Heart.” Torah from JTS, February 27, 2015.                               

ACADEMIC PRESENTATIONS

Professor Fishbane has delivered presentations on his research in many prestigious venues, including: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; The Schocken Institute for Jewish Research, Jerusalem; Harvard University; Yale University; Princeton University; The Jewish Theological Seminary; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA); Florida Atlantic University; Colby College; Carleton College; Vanderbilt University; as well as at many gatherings of The Association for Jewish Studies.

Public Lectures

Professor Fishbane also speaks frequently at a wide range of synagogues across North America. His many lecture topics include:

  • “What is Jewish Mysticism? Understanding the Kabbalah”
  • “Shabbat as Spiritual Transformation in Jewish Mysticism”
  • “Entering the Word, Opening the Heart: The Mystical Experience of Prayer”
  • “The Layers of Torah: A Path to God in Jewish Mysticism”
  • “The Virtue of Humility and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Mysticism and Ethics in Judaism” 
  • “Mystical Theology: Ideas of God in the Kabbalah” 
  • “The Zohar: Reading the Masterpiece of Jewish Mysticism”    

Selected Videos