There is a field of study, which focuses on the Hekhalot literature. However, the internet gives conflicting information about them.

For example, some state that they were written by the early Tannaim near the first century around the time of the Mishna. Others argue they were written around the year 800 as a response to Islamic influence. Many articles refer to the Rabbis of Israel, other to the Byzantine area, and others to Bavel. The literature as a whole is also often referred to as a group, but not specific book or collection of fragments is explicitly mentioned. (This is akin to talking about the Bible, but never stating which books the bible is composed of)

Where can the texts be found, when were they written, and where (Israel? Bavel? elsewhere?) were they written?


2 Answers 2


The main text, Hekhalot Rabbatai can be found translated online with notes as to where to find printed Hebrew editions (the most often cited sefer is batei midrashot by Wertheimer). There is not a firm consensus among scholars as to when it was written but there is general agreement to a range of 200-800 C.E. Souce. I have not found a source that discusses where, physically, they were put into writing but based on the dates I would certainly assume outside of Israel and would wager to guess Bavel. It seems clear that the majority of the content describing ascension to various palaces in shomayim took place when the tanaim were in Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan discusses this material extensively in Meditation and Kabbalah.

  • Thanks, but R. Shira HAgaon mentions two books, Hechalot Rabbatai and Hekhalot Zutarti. Other books speak about the "literature" as if its many many books and fragments. Where can one find those? The time frame of 200-800, ranges from Tanaim, Amaorim, Sevarim and Geonim. Which are different phases of Jewish life. And your answer gives us both Israel and Bavel, which perspective were they written in Israel or Bavel.. or are you saying both?
    – avi
    Mar 1, 2012 at 15:29
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    @avi from what i understand there is no official canonized 'hechalot' because none of the works were ever written with such intent. instead people have used the term hechalot as a catch-all for certain midrashic/mystic literature that is associated with the topic of ascending to heaven. Batei midrashot has many of the text cited in the wikipedia article. My answer is that the main work, hechalot rabbasai, was composed OUTSIDE of Israel, most likely IN Bavel.
    – none
    Mar 1, 2012 at 15:40
  • Is Batei Midrashot a book and not a collection of rooms in various Yeshivot ? That might have been my confusion :)
    – avi
    Mar 1, 2012 at 15:58
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    @avi oy gevalt, my mistake! sorry, the main compilers of obscure midrashic content before Scholem et al were S. A. Wertheimer and Adolph Jellinek. the former authored battei midrashot - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Aaron_Wertheimer
    – none
    Mar 1, 2012 at 16:13

Many have failed to note that Hekahlot literature is based on the writings of Isaiah Chap 6 and Ezekials wheel discourse of the TANAK,being Old Testament Writings of "The Prophets".Hence let it be said along with Hebrew Pseudapigrapha manuscripts that Hekahlot was in fact BC-before Christ. Later discourse came as Talmidic and Kabalac

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    Can you source any of this?
    – Double AA
    Dec 12, 2012 at 5:22

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