Rabbinic Fantasies

Imaginative Narratives from Classical Hebrew Literature

Edited by David Stern and Mark Jay Mirsky

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This remarkable anthology of sixteen narratives from ancient and medieval Hebrew texts opens a new window onto the Jewish imagination. Presenting the captivating world of rabbinic storytelling, it reveals facets of the Jewish experience and tradition that would otherwise have remained unknown and examines the surprisingly deep connection between the values of classical Judaism and the art of imaginative narrative writing.

Virtually all the narratives appear here in English for the first time. Sometimes pious, sometimes playful, and sometimes almost scandalous, they are each accompanied by an introduction and notes. The selections are framed by essays by David Stern and Mark Jay Mirsky that examine the various moods and forms in which the rabbinic imagination found expression and explore the impact that this unique form of narrative has had on modern fiction. The translations are by Norman Bronznick, Yaakov Elman, Michal Govrin, Arthur Green, Martha Himmelfarb, Ivan Marcus, Mark Jay Mirsky, Joel Rosenberg, David Ruderman, Raymond Scheindlin, David Stern, and Avi Weinstein.

Yale Judaica Series

David Stern is professor of post-biblical and medieval Hebrew literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Mark Jay Mirsky, professor of English at City University of New York, is the editor of Fiction magazine.

"This book . . . is replete with an introduction, afterword, and sixteen selections of narratives each translated into very readable English, each annotated. . . . I would hope that the work would find a comfortable niche in courses on comparative literature or world literature. . . . Stern's introduction is a masterpiece, moving with ease through the genres of narratives collected."—Shofar

"No other anthology offers the English reader such a fluent but at the same time scripturally responsible rendering of classical Hebrew literature."—David G. Roskies, Commentary

"The book will be enjoyed by readers of rabbinic literature, and it is a useful addition to syllabi on the Jewish textual tradition."—Leonard Gordon, Religious Studies Review

"Fills an important gap in our understanding of the diversity of Hebrew literary expression."—Leonard Gordon, Religious Studies Review

"This book opens a new window into Jewish imagination. Through 16 unusual selections from ancient and medieval Hebrew texts, sensitively made into English prose, otherwise unknown facets of the Jewish experience and tradition are revealed. This extraordinary volume is framed by two major original essays by the editors. Once drawn into the captivating world of rabbinic storytelling, the reader discovers many surprises, not the least of which is the deep connection between the values of classical Judaism and the art of imaginative narrative writing."—Menorah Review

"A book of delight. . . . For modern readers [the selections] are wondrously entertaining; they are also a glorious opportunity to enhance our appreciation of the imaginative genius of our forebears."—Max D. Ticktin, Jewish Monthly (B’nai B’rith International)


"Rabbinic Fantasies invites the reader to take a ride through the variegated terrain of classical Hebrew literature."—Gwynn Kessler, Hebrew Studies

ISBN: 9780300074024
Publication Date: March 30, 1998
376 pages, 6 x 9
16 b/w illus.
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