The Kabbalistic Tree / האילן הקבלי

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Product Details
Penn State University Press
Publish Date
8.28 X 10.28 X 1.66 inches | 4.56 pounds

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About the Author

J. H. Chajes is Sir Isaac Wolfson Professor of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa. He is the author of Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism, coeditor of The Visualization of Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, and the director of the Ilanot Project.


"J. H. Chajes's spectacular book offers a comprehensive and fascinating study of the diagrammatic visualization of Kabbalistic knowledge. Chajes's meticulous study of the arboreal Kabbalistic diagrams is an outstanding contribution to the study of Kabbalah, early modern and modern Jewish history, and Jewish visual culture."

--Boaz Huss, author of Mystifying Kabbalah: Academic Scholarship, National Theology, and New Age Spirituality

"Chajes has made these trees of ink on parchment and paper sing out loud and clear, redeeming them from obscurity and thus simultaneously enriching the fields of the history of visual aesthetics and the history of Jewish culture."

--Marc Michael Epstein, author of Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts

"Until this volume there has been no work that endeavours to provide scholars and laypeople with a broad overall and particular description of the ilanot in all of their varieties, twists, and turns. This enterprise is fascinating and truly illuminating, and no one to this day has touched even a fraction of what the book has to offer."

--Richard I. Cohen, co-author of Samuel Hirszenberg, 1865-1908: A Polish Jewish Artist in Turmoil

"A tour de force! A brilliant analysis of an astonishing object. Dense with texts and drawings, these Kabbalistic scrolls finally receive the scholarly attention they so deserve. In his analysis of these cosmological visualizations, Chajes treats image and text as an inseparable totality. The result is a model for the analysis of 'iconotexts.' A richly illustrated work of great erudition and intellectual imagination and a fascinating read."

--Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

"Late in the Middle Ages--mysteriously, graphically, and in a strikingly abstract, yet concrete fashion--Kabbalistic trees began sprouting from Judaism's alphabet-saturated ground. J. H. Chajes's magnificent study takes us for the first time into the history of their emergence andburgeoning, where visual and verbal vectors align, and the 'double-helix of Kabbalah' is revealed. This is a path-breaking book, years in the making and thrilling to read."

--Peter Cole, author of The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition

"A monumental achievement that will be valuable to scholars and general readers interested in Judaism, religion, and art history."

--starred review, Library Journal