The Kab­bal­is­tic Tree / האילן הקבלי

  • From the Publisher
December 29, 2015

Ilan­ot―parch­ment sheets pre­sent­ing the kab­bal­is­tic tree of life”―have been at the cen­ter of Jew­ish mys­ti­cal prac­tice for the past sev­en hun­dred years. Writ­ten by lead­ing ilan­ot expert J. H. Cha­jes, The Kab­bal­is­tic Tree is a com­pre­hen­sive and gor­geous­ly illus­trat­ed his­to­ry of these arbo­re­al maps of God.”

This book doc­u­ments when, where, and why Jews began to visu­al­ize and to draw the mys­ti­cal shape of the Divine as a Por­phyr­i­an tree. At once maps, man­dalas, and mem­o­ry palaces, ilan­ot pro­vid­ed kab­bal­ists with dia­gram­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of their struc­tured image of God. Scrolling an ilan parch­ment in con­tem­pla­tive study, the kab­bal­ist par­tic­i­pat­ed mimet­i­cal­ly in tikkun, the devel­op­ment and per­fec­tion of Divin­i­ty. Cha­jes reveals the com­plex lore behind these objects. His sur­vey begins with the clas­si­cal ilan­ot of pre-expul­sion Spain, Byzan­tine Crete, Kur­dis­tan, Yemen, and Renais­sance Italy. A close exam­i­na­tion of the ilan­ot inspired by the Kab­bal­ah taught by R. Isaac Luria in six­teenth-cen­tu­ry Safed fol­lows, and Cha­jes con­cludes with explo­rations of mod­ern ilan amulets and print­ed ilan­ot. With atten­tion to the con­texts of their cre­ation and how they were used, The Kab­bal­is­tic Tree inves­ti­gates ilan­ot from col­lec­tions around the world, includ­ing forty from the incom­pa­ra­ble Gross Fam­i­ly Collection.

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