Between the Lines: The Kabbalistic Tree

By :  Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Mar 29, 2023 / 5783 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines Library Programs

The Kabbalistic Tree, by J.H. Chajes, is the first book to explore the esoteric artifacts at the heart of Jewish mystical practice for the past 700 years: ilanot (trees). Melding maps, mandalas, and mnemonic memory palaces, ilanot provided kabbalists with diagrammatic representation of their structured image of the Divine. Scrolling an ilan parchment in contemplative study, the kabbalist participated mimetically in tikkun, the development and perfection of Divinity.  


J. H. (Yossi) Chajes (PhD, Yale University 1999) is the Sir Isaac Wolfson Professor of Jewish Thought in the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa. Chajes has been visiting Erasmus Professor at Queen Mary University, London, a visiting professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales and The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University Frankfurt, and a three-time fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Chajes directs the “Ilanot Project”—an ambitious and unprecedented attempt to research kabbalistic cosmological diagrams. Chajes’s pioneering work has been awarded four Israel Science Foundation (ISF) research grants, the Friedenberg Prize for the outstanding ISF-funded project in the humanities, and two Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony/Volkswagen Foundation grants to develop the digital humanities project “Maps of God – Building a Portal to Visual Kabbalah.” Chajes’s recent book, The Kabbalistic Tree  (PSUP 2022) has been lauded as “a monumental achievement that will be valuable to scholars and general readers interested in Judaism, religion, and art history.”