The Full Wiki

Lurianic Kabbalah: Wikis

Advertisements

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

(Redirected to Isaac Luria article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The grave of Isaac Luria in Safed

Isaac Luria (1534 – July 25, 1572) (Hebrew: Yitzhak Lurya יִצְחַק לוּרְיָא), also called Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi aka as "The Ari", "Ari-Hakadosh", or "Arizal," meaning "The Lion,"[1][2] was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine. He is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah.[3] He is known for the interpretation of his teachings in Kabbalah known as Lurianic Kabbalah. While his direct literary contribution to the Kabbalistic school of Safed was extremely minute (he wrote only a few poems), his spiritual fame led to their veneration and the acceptance of his authority. The works of his disciples compiled his oral teachings into writing.

Lurianic Kabbalah gave a revolutionary new account of Kabbalistic thought that its followers synthesised with, and read into, the earlier Kabbalah of the Zohar that had disseminated in Medieval circles. Lurianic Kabbalah describes new doctrines of the origins of Creation, and their cosmic rectification, as well as a new descriptive paradigm of preceding Kabbalistic teaching. The main popularizer of Luria's ideas was Rabbi Hayyim ben Joseph Vital, who claimed to be the official interpreter of the Lurianic system, though this was disputed by some.

Previous interpretation of the Zohar had culminated in the first complete intellectual synthesis of Kabbalah, in the rational school of Moshe Cordovero in Safed, immediately before Isaac Luria. Both schools gave Kabbalah a philosophical depth of theology to rival earlier Medieval Jewish philosophy ("Hakira"). Under the influence of the esoteric mystical developments of Jewish thought in 16th-century Safed, Kabbalah replaced Hakira as the main Jewish theology, both in scholarly circles, and in the popular imagination. Lurianic thought, seen by its followers as harmonious with, and successively more advanced than Cordoveran, mostly superseded it, and became the mystical dimension of most Orthodox theology until today, with the later Hasidic and Mitnagdic movements differing in their interpretations of it. The Sabbatean mystical heresy would also derive its source from Lurianic messianism, but distort the Kabbalistic interdependance of mysticism with Halacha.

Part of a series on
Kabbalah
10 Sephirot
Concepts
Ein Sof · Tzimtzum · Ohr · Sephirot · Four Worlds · Seder hishtalshelus · Tree of Life · Merkavah · Jewish angelic hierarchy · Shemhamphorasch · Shechina · Kelipot · Tikkun · Sparks of holiness · Messianic rectification in Kabbalah · Gilgul · Ibbur  · Kabbalistic astrology · Gematria · Notarikon · Temurah · Tzadik · Tzadikim Nistarim · Panentheism
Chronological history
The Zohar
Early: Sefer Yetzirah · Tannaim · Heichalot Medieval: Bahir · Toledano tradition · Chassidei Ashkenaz · Prophetic Kabbalah · Zohar · Kabbalistic commentaries on the Bible · Mainstream replacement of Philosophy with Kabbalah Rennaisance: Selective influence on Western thought · Mysticism after Spanish expulsion · Mystics of 16th century Safed · Cordoveran Kabbalah · Lurianic Kabbalah · Philosophy of the Maharal · Shnei Luchos HaBris Early Modern: Baal Shem-Nistarim · Sabbatean mystical heresies · Emden-Eybeschutz Controversy · Immigration to the Land of Israel · Traditional Oriental Kabbalists · Beit El Synagogue · Eastern European Judaism · Hasidic Judaism · Hasidic philosophy · Lithuanian Jews · Hasidic-Mitnagdic schism Modern: Hasidic dynasties · HaSulam · Academic interest in Jewish mysticism · Non-Orthodox interest in Jewish mysticism
Practices
Visiting grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
Torah study · Mitzvot · Minhag · Customery immersion in Mikveh · Jewish meditation · Deveikut · Jewish prayer · Nusach · Kavanot · Names of God in Judaism · Tikkun Chatzot · Tikkun Leil Shavuot · Teshuvah · Asceticism in Judaism · Pilgrimage to Tzadik · Pilgrimage to holy grave · Lag BaOmer at Meron · Practical Kabbalah
People
Medieval Tree of Life illustration
100s: The Four Who Entered the Pardes · Shimon bar Yochai

1100s: Isaac the Blind · Azriel 1200s: Nahmanides · Abraham Abulafia · Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla · Moses de Leon · Menahem Recanati 1300s: Bahya ben Asher 1400s: 1500s: Meir ibn Gabbai · Joseph Karo · Shlomo Alkabetz · Moshe Alshich · Moshe Cordovero · Isaac Luria · Chaim Vital · Judah Loew ben Bezalel 1600s: Isaiah Horowitz · Abraham Azulai 1700s: Chaim ibn Attar · Baal Shem Tov · Dov Ber of Mezeritch · Moshe Chaim Luzzatto · Shalom Sharabi · Vilna Gaon · Chaim Joseph David Azulai · Nathan Adler · Schneur Zalman of Liadi · Chaim Volozhin 1800s: Nachman of Breslov · Ben Ish Chai · Shlomo Eliyashiv 1900s: Abraham Isaac Kook · Yehuda Ashlag · Baba Sali · Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Position in Jewish thought
Ark of the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, Safed
History:
Torah · Tanakh · Prophecy · Ruach HaKodesh · Pardes exegesis · Talmudical hermeneutics · Midrash · Jewish commentaries on the Bible · Oral Torah · Eras of Rabbinic Judaism · Generational descent in Halacha · Generational ascent in Kabbalah · Rabbinic literature · Talmudic theology · Halakha · Aggadah · Hakira (Medieval Jewish Philosophy) · Classic Mussar literature · Ashkenazi Judaism · Sephardi Judaism · Modern Jewish Philosophies · Jewish studies
Topics:
God in Judaism · Divine transcendence · Divine immanence · Free Will in Judaism · Divine Providence in Judaism · Kabbalistic reasons for the 613 Mitzvot · Jewish principles of faith · Jewish eschatology

Contents

Early life

He was born in Jerusalem in 1534 to an Ashkenazi father and a Sephardic mother; died at Safed, Ottoman Empire controlled land of Israel July 25, 1572 (5 Av 5332). While still a child he lost his father, and was brought up by his rich uncle Mordecai Francis, tax-farmer at Cairo, Egypt, who placed him under the best Jewish teachers. Luria showed himself a diligent student of rabbinical literature; and, under the guidance of his uncle, Rabbi Bezalel Ashkenazi (best known as the author of Shita Mikubetzet), he, while quite young, became proficient in that branch of Jewish learning.

At the age of fifteen he married his cousin and, being amply provided for financially, was able to continue his studies. Though he initially may have pursued a career in business, he soon turned to asceticism and mysticism. About the age of twenty-two years old, he became engrossed in the study of the Zohar, a major work of the Kabbalah that had recently been printed for the first time, and adopted the life of a recluse. He retreated to the banks of the Nile, and for seven years secluded himself in an isolated cottage, giving himself up entirely to meditation. He visited his family only on the Shabbat, speaking very seldom, and always in Hebrew. Hassidism attributes to him that he had frequent interviews with the prophet Elijah through this ascetic life, by whom he was initiated into sublime doctrines.

Disciples

In 1569 Luria moved to the Ottoman Palestine Eretz Israel; and after a short sojourn in Jerusalem, where his new kabalistic system seems to have met with little success, he settled in Safed. There he formed a circle of kabbalists to whom he imparted the doctrines by means of which he hoped to establish a new basis for the moral system of the world. To this circle belonged Rabbi Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz, Rabbi Joseph Caro, Rabbi Moses Alshech, Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas, Rabbi Joseph Hagiz, Rabbi Elisha Galadoa, and Rabbi Moses Bassola. They met every Friday, and each confessed to another his sins. Soon Luria had two classes of disciples: (1) novices, to whom he expounded the elementary Kabbalah, and (2) initiates, who became the depositaries of his secret teachings and his formulas of invocation and conjuration.

However, the most renowned of the initiates was Rabbi Chaim Vital of Calabria, who, according to his master, possessed a soul which had not been soiled by Adam's sin. In his company Luria visited the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and of other eminent teachers, it is said that these graves were unmarked—the identity of each grave was unknown—and through Elijah each grave was recognized. Luria's kabbalistic circle gradually widened and became a separate congregation, in which his mystic doctrines were supreme, influencing all the religious ceremonies. On Shabbat Luria dressed himself in white and wore a fourfold garment to signify the four letters of the Ineffable Name.

Many Jews who had been exiled from Spain following the Edict of Expulsion believed they were in the time of trial that would precede the appearance of the Messiah in Galilee. Those who moved to Palestine in anticipation of this event found a great deal of comfort in Luria’s teachings, due to his theme of exile. Although he did not write down his teachings, they were published by his followers and by 1650 his ideas were known by Jews throughout Europe.[4]

His teachings

Luria used to deliver his lectures extemporaneously and did not write much, with a few exceptions, including some kabbalistic poems in Aramaic for the Sabbath table. The real exponent of his kabbalistic system was Chaim Vital. He collected all the notes of the lectures which Luria's disciples had made; and from these notes were produced numerous works, the most important of which was the Etz Chayim, ("Tree of Life"), in eight volumes (see below). At first this circulated in manuscript copies; and each of Luria's disciples had to pledge himself, under pain of excommunication, not to allow a copy to be made for a foreign country; so that for a time all the manuscripts remained in Palestine. At last, however, one was brought to Europe and was published at Zolkiev in 1772 by Isaac Satanow. In this work are expounded both the theoretical and the devotional or meditative Kabbalah based on the Zohar.

Advertisements

Teachings about the Sefirot

The characteristic feature of Luria's system in the theoretical Kabbalah is his definition of the Sefiroth and his theory of the intermediary agents, which he calls partzufim. Before the creation of the world, he says, the Ein Sof ("Without Ending") filled the infinite space. When the Creation was decided upon, in order that God's attributes, which belong to other beings as well, should manifest themselves in their perfection, the Ein Sof retired into God's own nature, or, to use the kabbalistic term, God "concentrated" Himself (Tzimtzum). From this "concentration" proceeded the "infinite light". When in its turn the light "concentrated", there appeared in the center an empty space encompassed by ten circles or dynamic vessels (kelim) called Sefirot, ("Circled Numbers") by means of which the infinite realities, though forming an absolute unity, may appear in their diversity; for the finite has no real existence of itself.

However, the infinite light did not wholly desert the center; a thin conduit of light traversed the circles and penetrated into the center. But while the three outermost circles, being of a purer substance because of their nearness to the Ein Sof, were able to bear the light, the inner six were unable to do so, and burst. It was, therefore, necessary to remove them from the focus of the light. For this purpose the Sefirot were transformed into "figures" (parzufim, cf. Greek πρόσωπον = "face").

The first Sefirah, being Keter ("Crown"), was transformed into the potentially existing three heads of the Macroprosopon (Erech Anpin); the second Sefirah, being Chochmah ("Wisdom"), into the active masculine principle called "Father" (Abba); the third Sefirah, being Binah ("Understanding"), into the passive, feminine principle called "Mother" (Imma); the six broken Sefirot, into the "male child" (Ze'er), which is the product of the masculine active and the feminine passive principles; the tenth Sefirah, Malkut which is ("Kingship"), into the female child (Bath). This proceeding was absolutely necessary. Had God in the beginning created these figures instead of the Sefirot, there would have been no evil in the world, and consequently no reward and punishment; for the source of evil is in the broken Sefirot or vessels (Shvirat Keilim), while the light of the Ein Sof produces only that which is good. These five figures are found in each of the Four Worlds; namely, in the world of Emanation (atzilut), Creation (beri'ah), Formation (yetzirah), and in that of Action (asiyah), which represents the material world.

Luria's psychological system, upon which is based his devotional and meditational Kabbalah, is closely connected with his metaphysical doctrines. From the five figures, he says, emanated five souls, Nefesh ("Spirit"), Ru'ach ("Wind"), Neshamah ("Soul"), Chayah ("Life"), and Yechidah ("Singular"); the first of these being the lowest, and the last the highest. (Source: Etz Chayim). Man's soul is the connecting link between the infinite and the finite, and as such is of a manifold character. All the souls destined for the human race were created together with the various organs of Adam. As there are superior and inferior organs, so there are superior and inferior souls, according to the organs with which they are respectively coupled. Thus there are souls of the brain, souls of the eye, souls of the hand, etc. Each human soul is a spark (nitzotz) from Adam. The first sin of the first man caused confusion among the various classes of souls: the superior intermingled with the inferior; good with evil; so that even the purest soul received an admixture of evil, or, as Luria calls it, of the element of the "shells" (Kelipoth). From the lowest classes of souls proceeded the pagan world, while from the higher emanated the Israelitish world. But, in consequence of the confusion, the former are not wholly deprived of the original good, and the latter are not altogether free from sin. This state of confusion, which gives a continual impulse toward evil, will cease with the arrival of the Messiah, who will establish the moral system of the world upon a new basis. Until that time man's soul, because of its deficiencies, can not return to its source, and has to wander not only through the bodies of men and of animals, but even through inanimate things such as wood, rivers, and stones.

Return of the soul

To this doctrine of gilgulim (reincarnation of souls) Luria added the theory of the impregnation (ibbur) of souls; that is to say, if a purified soul has neglected some religious duties on earth, it must return to the earthly life, and, attaching itself to the soul of a living man, unite with it in order to make good such neglect.

Further, the departed soul of a man freed from sin appears again on earth to support a weak soul which feels unequal to its task. However, this union, which may extend to two souls at one time, can only take place between souls of homogeneous character; that is, between those which are sparks of the same Adamite organ. The dispersion of Israel has for its purpose the salvation of men's souls; as the purified souls of Israelites will fulfill the prophecy of becoming "A lamplight unto the nations," influencing the souls of men of other races in order to free them from demoniacal influences.

According to Luria, man bears on his forehead a mark by which one may learn the nature of his soul: to which degree and class it belongs; the relation existing between it and the superior world; the wanderings it has already accomplished; the means by which it can contribute to the establishment of the new moral system of the world; how it can be freed from demoniacal influences; and to which soul it should be united in order to become purified. This union can be effected by formulas of conjuration.

According to others, the sign is on the person shape likeness by which one may learn the nature of his/her soul to which value that person is to place it self on tikkun olam

More on - Shaar ha Gilgulim

Shabbetai Tzvi

Lurianic Kabbalah has been accused by some of being the cause of the spread of the false Messiah Shabbetai Tzvi. However, it remained the leading school of mysticism in Judaism, and is an important influence on Hasidism and Sefardic kabbalists. In fact, only a minority of today's Jewish mystics belong to other branches of thought in Zoharic mysticism. Some Jewish kabbalists have said that the followers of Shabbetai Tzvi strongly avoided teachings of Rabbi Luria because his system disproved their notions. On the other hand, the Shabbetians did use Rabbi Luria's concepts of nitzotzot trapped in kelippot and pure souls being mixed with the impure (see below) to justify some of their antinomian actions.

Influence on ritual

Luria introduced his mystic system into religious observance. Every commandment had for him a mystic meaning. The Sabbath with all its ceremonies was looked upon as the embodiment of the Divinity in temporal life; and every ceremony performed on that day was considered to have an influence upon the superior world. Every word, every syllable, of the prescribed prayers contain hidden names of God upon which one should meditate devoutly while reciting. New mystic ceremonies were ordained and codified under the name of Shulkhan Arukh heAri (The "Code of Law of the Ari") (compare Shulkhan Arukh by Rabbi Joseph Karo).

Influence on modern Judaism

Rabbi Luria's ideas enjoy wide recognition among Jews today. Orthodox as well as Reform, Reconstructionist and other Progressive Jews frequently acknowledge a moral obligation to "repair the world" (tikkun olam). This idea draws upon Luria's teaching that shards of divinity remain contained in flawed material creation and that deeds by the righteous help to release this energy. The philosophies of the Ari do not exercise the same level of influence everywhere, however. Communities where Luria's thought holds less sway include many German, Litvish, and Modern Orthodox communities, groups carrying forward Spanish and Portuguese traditions, a sizable segment of Baladi Yemenite Jews (see Dor Daim), and other groups that follow a form of Torah Judaism based more on classical authorities like Maimonides and the Geonim.

Modern day descendants

Several members of the ultra-orthodox community in Safed and in Jerusalem claim they can trace their lineage back to Luria[citation needed].

The various Chassidic dynasties consider the teachings and practices of Luria as major influences on their own teachings and practices. Additionally, today's mekubalim mizra`him (oriental Kabbalists), following the tradition of R' Chayim Vital and the mystical legacy of the Rashash (Gilgul of the ARI), consider themselves legitimate heirs to and in continuity with Luria's teachings.

See also

References

  1. ^ Derived from the acronym for "Elohi Rabbi Itzhak, Z''L ("The Divine Rabbi Yitzhak, of blessed memory," in which the added "Hakadosh" means "Holy," and the added "zal" stands for "Zikhrono Livrakha." ("let the memory of him be for a blessing"
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=7lsVajEtaQ0C&lpg=PP1&dq=%22yosef%20eisen%22&pg=PA213#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  4. ^ Armstrong, Karen, The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism, Ballentine Books, 2001, p8-14

Bibliography

  • Lawrence Fine: Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship: Stanford: Stanford University Press: 2003: ISBN 0-8047-4826-8
  • Eliahu Klein: Kabbalah of Creation: The Mysticism of Isaac Luria, Founder of Modern Kabbalah: Berkeley: North Atlantic Books: 2005: ISBN 1-55643-542-8

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message