Otz Chiim, the Tree of Life, is the symbol at the heart
of the Kabbalah. It encapsulates creation, existence and the return to the Divine (or
the path to enlightenment). The Tree is built from thirty-two "paths" comprised of ten
sefirot and the twenty-two paths through which they interrelate. The twenty-two paths
correspond to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in the Western Kabbalah they are
normally drawn as shown in our discussion of the Tree of Life. In Judaic Kabbalah,
the paths usually differ slightly, being placed as shown in the Tree above. In this Tree, there are no direct paths between
Malkuth and Hod or
Netsach; instead there are paths between
Binah and Chesed and
Chokmah and Geburah, mirroring
more closely the "lightning flash of creation" in which the sefirot are emanated sequentially, each from its predecessor.
See our Introduction to the Kabbalah and the rest of our
Kabbalah section for more about this profound and fascinating symbol.