trees of providence

Trees of Providence

Throughout the analysis of this drawing I will refer to a number of fundamental Kabbalistic concepts (Hebrew terms in brackets), which should be interpreted metaphorically as opposed to literally. This piece visualizes philosophical concepts relating to morality and free choice, as presented in "A knowing heart" (Da'at Tevunot) - a masterpiece written by a 17th century Italian Jewish philosopher called Moses Chaim Luzzatto (Ramhal).

In the beginning God created an Empty Space ("Halal Panui") - when God concealed His infinite essence in order to make a finite world of choice for man to act in). This is represented by the outer circle, which is the limit between the infinite world of Atzilut and the limited worlds of Beriyah, Yetzirah and Aasiyah – the 3 concentric circles.

God governs the world with two sources of providence: Revelation (or He'erat Panim - top white semi-circle) and Concealment (or Hester Panim - bottom black semi-circle) . These two sources of providence are expressed in a succession of spiritual realms – in Yetzirah (second concentric circle) they are the opposites of light and darkness, and in Aasiyah (inner circle), they are the opposites of good and evil.

As a result of the man's fall when he ate from the mythological tree of knowledge, these opposing forces of good and evil, which had until then existed as abstract concepts external to man, became part of his internal existence. The result of this is to be experienced in the conflict between our spiritual desires (central white half-circle) and our material desires (central black half circle).

In order to overcome the merging of good and evil in our psyche, we must learn to distinguish between good and evil, and cast away the evil by choosing the good. By choosing to live according to his spiritual self (the white spiral), man gives power to the providence of Revelation, and diminishes the power of Concealment.

If, however, man chooses to be controlled by his material desires, (the black spiral), he is led to an existence of darkness, and thus gives power to the providence of concealment. This causes man to become ensnared in confusion and suffering, and more effort is needed in order to rectify the damage which he has caused himself. This is symbolized by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (the golden tree in the bottom half), whose roots are based in the providence of Concealment.

When mankind reaches its rectification (Tikkun), there will be no more concealment, and only the providence of Revelation will remain. This is symbolized by the kabbalistic Tree of Life (the diagram of the ten sefirot in the top half), which is the means by which God bestows abundance onto man. In the future, Revelation will conquer Concealment, and the world will be united in infinite perfection.

The Sefirot are energies that relate to each other in order to connect between two entities. They are represented by shapes that reflect their essence in a visual manner and their meaning is as follows:

Keter – White, providence of Revelation
Chochma – First spark of information before processing.
Binah – Logical system which processes the information
Da’at – Combination of Chochma and Bina.
Chesed – Unlimited giving
Gevura – Unlimited constriction
Tiferet – Balance between giving and constriction.
Netzach – Attack, aggression.
Hod – Defense, steadiness.
Yesod –Passes the potential energy of the above sefirot to Mallkut
Malkut – Recieves potential energy from Yesod and actualizes it in the creation of a new entity.

Limited edition (/60) canvas reproduction, 20x20 inch: $295

One thought on “Trees of Providence”

  1. Wow, Zak! You’ve done it again! What an amazing work of art. I’m so glad you have the art and its explanation on your website. You need to do this for all your pieces. Good luck at El Al. Can’t wait to see where you travel with your bottle project. Good luck!

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