Kabbalistic Trees (Ilanot) in Italy: Visualizing the Hierarchy of the Heavens

J. H. Chajes, “Kabbalistic Trees (Ilanot) in Italy: Visualizing the Hierarchy of the Heavens,” In The Renaissance Speaks Hebrew, edited by Giulio Busi and Silvana Greco, 170–83. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2019.

J. H. Chajes, ‘Alberi cabbalistici (Ilanot) in Italia: visualizzare la gerarchia del cielo’, in Giulio Busi and Silvana Greco, eds., Il Rinascimento parla ebraico (Milan, 2019), pp. 170-183.


From Kurdistan to Baghdad

Eliezer Baumgarten, ‘From Kurdistan to Baghdad: Transitions of Visual Knowledge During the Early Modern Period’, Ars Judaica 14 (2018) pp. 79-92

The paper addresses two themes that have not received the attention they deserve in the existing
research: the presence of Kabbalah in Kurdistan and the transfer of visual Kabbalistic knowledge
between different cultures. It describes the way in which Italian visual objects were transferred to
Kurdistan at the beginning of the seventeenth century, how they were adapted to Kurdish culture, and
how they were then relocated and readapted following the immigration of Rabbinic Kurdish families
to Bagdad. The article focuses on the work of two scholars from Kurdistan: R. Yehoshua b. R. David
and R. Yehuda b. Pin.has. These two kabbalists created a kabbalistic ilan (literally: tree), a complex
diagram consisting of drawings and texts and relating to the spheres of divine emanation. The ilan,
based on Italian knowledge, teaches us about the various relations between Italy and Kurdistan in the
seventeenth century.

Prophecy, Kabbala and Visualization of knowledge in the thought of R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto

הנה עין הנביא ידמה: נבואה, קבלה ודימוי חזותי אצל רמח”ל

המאמר עוסק בתפקידם של שני ‘אילנות קבלה’ אותם יצר רמח”ל (ר’ משה חיים לוצאטו). המאמר בוחן את תפקידה המרכזית של הוויזואליה בתוך עולמו ההגותי של רמח”ל, תוך הצגת האילנות כחלק מתמונה רחבה של תפקיד הוויזואליה בשיח הקבלי בכלל והשבתאי בפרט בתקופה זו. רמח”ל מציב במרכז הפעילות הקבלית את המקובל ה’רואה’ את העולמות העליונים, ומולו את המקובלים אשר מנסים לשחזר ראייה זו. פעולת השחזור נעשית בעזרת פרשנות, או בעזרת הממד הוויזואלי של האילן הקבלי. דבר זה מסביר גיצד האילן משמש ככלי לפעילות קבלית-נבואית, ואת השיח סביב הגשמת האל שהתפתח בחוגו של רמח”ל.

This article deals with the important role of two kabbalistic diagrams (Ilanot) that were created by R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (Ramchal) at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The Ilanot are examined within the context of a treatment of visualization in Ramchal’s intellectual world and, more broadly, in the kabbalistic literature in this period, including Sabbatean works. At the center of kabbalistic activity, Ramchal posits the kabbalist who “sees” the upper worlds; alongside to him are the kabbalists who attempt to reconstruct this vision. This reconstruction is facilitated by commentary, as well as by the visualization inscribed in the Ilan. In this way we may understand how the Ilan served as a tool for kabbalistic-prophetic activity, as well as the discourse of divine corporealization that developed in the circle of Luzzatto.