My post-graduate research grounded in the complementary methodologies of textual and cultural approaches to Jewish studies has explored the rich symbolism, hermeneutic structure, ritual representation, and cultural contexts of Jewish mystical texts from the Middle Ages to the early modern period. My master’s thesis engaged methods of hermeneutic theory and textual criticism to examine a particular section of the Zohar on the Biblical chapter from Genesis, “Lekh Lekhah.” I was particularly interested in the intersection of myth making, ritual representation, and the hermeneutic structure of the text. Building on my research of the Zohar at the Master’s level, my doctoral dissertation deployed questions of textual reception and cultural history to trace the impact of printing on the popularization of Jewish mysticism and the concomitant production of study guides to the Zohar that began to appear in the late sixteenth century. A two-year post-doctoral fellowship from the Azrieli Foundation, which I took at Tel Aviv University under the guidance of Professor Ronit Meroz, allowed me to revise my dissertation into a book, which has been accepted and will be published in Fall 2016.
My forthcoming book, The Study of Kabbalah in the Age of Print (Los Angeles, Cherub), will fill major lacunae both in the academic study of Kabbalah as well as in the burgeoning scholarship on the Hebrew Book. To date, scholarship has not sufficiently explored the critical agency of print technology and the role of secondary elites in the popularization of Kabbalah in the early modern period.
Kabbalah emerges as an important bridge in the early modern period connecting the intellectual histories of Jews, from diverse social strata and geographical locations, with the ideas and thoughts of their Christian neighbors. I am exploring this theme in a forthcoming chapter, “New Kabbalistic Genres and Their Readers in Early Modern Europe,” that has been accepted in the volume, Connecting Histories: Jews and Their Others in the Early Modern Period, edited by Professors David Ruderman and Francesca Bregoli to be published by University of Pennsylvania Press. The chapter draws on themes and questions that informed my yearlong stay as an Adjunct Fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Centre of Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania during the 2013-14 academic year. The year’s research topic, “Constructing Borders and Crossing Boundaries: Social, Cultural and Religious Change in Early Modern Jewish History,” allowed me to further explore the theme of cultural and religious encounters both among kabbalists from geographically dispersed communities as well as between Jewish and Christian scholars.