In Jewish mystical thought, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life were intended to flourish together in the Garden, but human beings forsook the vital Tree of Life to pursue knowledge alone, introducing duality to the world and preventing the ideal Edenic state that will be restored only in the Messianic age.

Moreover, in Jewish mysticism, the Tree of Life refers to much more than a physical tree. It describes a system of divine energy, flowing from the boundless Light of the Godhead (Ohr Ein Sof) into the created universe through medium of the ten Sephirot, the closest of which is the Shechinah, the indwelling presence of God in the world. Furthermore, this energy system is replicated in the microcosm of our own bodies and emotions. One needn’t be kabbalists to embrace the Hassidic tradition of learning and growing by developing our own middot (personal qualities) that emulate these divine creative forces, which are often translated as the mental powers of wisdom, understanding and knowledge/ consciousness, and the emotional qualities of kindness, strength, harmony, endurance, glory, righteousness, and presence.  Learn more about the symbolism of the Sephirot.

 

 

Featured image: Tree of Life theme stained glass window by Eli Content, Joods Historisch Museum, Netherlands. Photo by Michele Ahin, Creative Commons cc-by-sa 2.0 (generic) licence. More info. “Kabbalists believe the Tree of Life to be a diagrammatic representation of the process by which the Universe came into being”

Explore the Jewish New Year of the Tree, or return to the Gateway of Trees

 

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