Cosmological Forests
kabbalistic divinity maps
a research project funded by the Israel Science Foundation

This project is being carried out under the direction of Dr. J. H. Chajes of the University of Haifa

in collaboration with post-doctoral fellows Dr. Menachem Kallus & Dr. Eliezer Baumgarten

for a high-res image of this exhibit, click chajes_ilanot_library_exhibit.jpg

The Jewish mystical tradition has tended to present its gnosis in objective terms. The ecstasy of the mystic and the grace of God have taken a back-seat to the transmission of theosophical truths regarding the nature of the divine. As Kabbalah developed increasingly sophisticated imaginings of the workings of divinity, Jewish mystics turned increasingly to mapping out the complex systems, creating a kind of cosmological cartography. With the emergence of the Lurianic Kabbalah in the sixteenth century, such maps became all but essential tools for the mystic student and practitioner.

Our project is producing a descriptive catalogue of all known ilanot (kabbalistic divinity maps) as well as a series of critical editions with Cherub Press.

If you are in possession of an ilan, we would appreciate hearing from you!

We are happy to announce our newly expanded collaboration with the University of Haifa Younes & Soraya Nazarian Library,

following the success of the Ilanot Exhibition (seen above).

In the context of this expanded collaboration, we are working on the following projects:

The Ilanot Database (an Israel Science Foundation-funded work-in-progress) is a searchable descriptive catalogue of kabbalistic diagrams in manuscripts and books from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, hosted by the University of Haifa’s Nazarian Library Digital Media Center.

We are thrilled to announce the full partnership of the National Library of Israel in the development of the Ilanot Database.

Although modest illustrative diagrams embedded in kabbalistic works may be catalogued, the priority is to treat the more complex and generally independent artifacts that give diagrammatic expression to kabbalistic theosophical cosmology. These artifacts, often executed in scroll form, and generically known as "Ilanot" (Arborae), are hybridic integrations of text and diagram.

The Ilanot Database will enable scholars to search for diagrams according to historical period; cultural-regional context; concepts diagrammed; aesthetic criteria; as well as other salient characteristics.

Interactive Online Ilanot - In addition to our forthcoming series of Cherub Press critical editions of the most important Kabbalistic cosmological scrolls, we are working with the University of Haifa Nazarian Library on online scrolls that will contain transcriptions, translations, and commentaries. Stay tuned for more information!