Gates of Light, 2016,  Avraham Loewenthal,  Giclée print on paper, Tang Museum Teaching Collection 

Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism, particularly one that discloses the inner workings of divinity, and the channels through which God descends towards His Creation and pious souls ascend towards their Maker. The key to this redemptive process is the ten sefirot, the divine potencies unfolding from the Infinite and unknowable side of God to His Presence, manifested through knowable attributes such as Wisdom, Majesty, Beauty, Justice, and Love. In revealing this secret knowledge, Kabbalists sought to encourage the meticulous observance of Jewish Law, which restores the world to its proper order. The Hebrew word sefirah has no ready translation, being a medieval term coined to suggest both number and narrative. Telling God’s story is simultaneously enumerating the sefirot, tracing the ten-fold pattern that regulates existence. In that sacred calculus, each of the ten sefirot corresponds to certain scriptural figures, divine names, colors, and moments in the liturgical calendar. The sefirot are further mapped onto the human body, which is made in the divine image, and through which one can perform righteous deeds, helping to repair the cosmos. While much of the dense vocabulary of kabbalistic symbolism was articulated in texts, visual traditions also developed. Diagrams of the ten sefirot are known as ilanot, or “Trees of Life.” Therein, divine potencies are arranged in geometric clusters, branching out to the right and left, delineating the configurations through which blessings flow down into the world, and return back to their source in God. As Kabbalah became more popular and public, sefirotic trees proliferated into “cosmological forests,” making visible the divine structures sustaining the universe.

Gregory Spinner

Avraham Loewenthal (b. 1968) lives and works in Tzfat, Israel. He was born in Michigan, and received his BA from the University of Michigan and his MFA in painting from School of The Art Institute of Chicago. While in art school, Loewenthal was introduced to Jewish Mysticism and the study of Kabbalah, and quickly became captivated with its ideas and way of life. Shortly after graduating he moved to Tzfat, the center of Kabbalistic study. Loewenthal’s work combines Jewish prayer, mysticism, and contemporary art practices. He studies the spiritual learning of the Kabbalah in order to create meditative and inspirational artwork. Loewenthal explains, "The main theme of the Kabbalah expressed in most of my artwork is the idea that at the root of all of our spiritual work in this world is coming to truly care for one another as we care for ourselves."
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