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Rabbi Yitzchak Luria ben Shlomo Ashkenaz’s father was related to the famous Maharshal, was born in the Old City of Jerusalem in 5294 (1534) in what is now the Old Yishuv Court Museum, and passed away on the 5th of Av 5332 (1572.

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria  known as the Ar”i, a acronym standing for Eloki Rabbi Yitzchak, “the G‑dly Rabbi Isaac”; Ar”i is also the Hebrew word for “lion.” No other master or sage ever had this extra letter aleph, an abbreviation for Eloki (G‑dly), prefixed to his name. This was a sign of the esteem in which his contemporaries held him. Later generations, fearful that this appellation might be misunderstood, explained the aleph as standing for Ashkenazi, indicating that his family had originated in Germany, as indeed it had. Alternatively, some explain that the aleph stands for adoneinu, “our master.” To this day, among Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria is referred to as “Rabbeinu HaAri” , “HaAri HaKadosh” (the holy Ari), “the Ari,” or “the Arizal”.

The following story is told about the birth of the Arizal:

Rabbi Shlomo Luria lived in Israel…One day  in the study hall alone learning Elijah the Prophet appeared to him and said, “I have been sent to you by the Almighty to bring you tidings that your wife shall conceive and bear a child, and that you must call him Yitzchak (Isaac). He shall begin to deliver Israel from the kelipot (“husks,” forces of evil). Through him, numerous souls will receive their tikkun (rectification). He is also destined to reveal many hidden mysteries in the Torah, and to expound on the Zohar. His fame will spread throughout the world. Take care, therefore, that you not circumcise him before I come to be the sandek (the one who holds the child during the circumcision ceremony).”

He finished speaking and disappeared. Rabbi Shlomo Luria went home, but did not reveal this secret to anyone, even to his wife. When the Ari was born, the house was filled with light, and on the eighth day he was brought to the synagogue to be circumcised. His father searched everywhere to see if Elijah had come as promised, but he did not see him. Everyone was urging the father to proceed, but he replied that not all the guests had yet arrived.

An hour went by, but Elijah still did not come.

An hour went by, but Elijah still did not come. Then he thought bitterly to himself: My sins must have prevented him from fulfilling his promise. But as he was crying, Elijah appeared and said, “Do not cry, servant of God. Draw near unto the altar and offer your son as a pure sacrifice dedicated entirely to Heaven. Sit on my chair, and I shall sit upon you.” Whereupon, invisible to everyone present except Rabbi Shlomo, Elijah sat on his lap, received the child with both hands, and held him during the entire circumcision. Neither the mohel nor those assembled saw anything but the father holding his baby. After the circumcision, he again promised Rabbi Shlomo that the child would bring great light to the entire world, and then he disappeared.

Rabbi Shlomo passed away when the Ari was still a child. In 1541, unable to support the family, the Ari’s mother traveled to Egypt with her children, where they lived with her brother, Mordechai Francis, a wealthy tax collector. The boy’s brilliance continued to shine in pilpul (Talmudic dialectic) and logic. Rabbi David ibn Zimra (the Radbaz) taught the Ari both the revealed and the concealed aspects of the Torah. The Ari also studied under Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi, the author of Shitah Mekubetzet.

By the time the Ari was fifteen, his expertise in Talmud had equaled or surpassed that of all the sages in Egypt. At this age he married his uncle’s daughter, and then spent the next six years in intensive study with Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi. It was around this time that a copy of one volume of the Zohar came into his hands. He studied the Zohar in seclusion for another six years. He then isolated himself completely in a house near the Nile for another two years. He remained alone, not speaking to any human being throughout the week. He would return home on the eve of Shabbat, just before dark. But even at home, he would not utter a word, even to his wife. When it was absolutely necessary for him to say something, he would say it in the least possible number of words, and then only in the holy language —-Hebrew. The Ari and his wife had a number of children, including a son named Moshe, who passed away at a young age, and a daughter, who married the son of Rabbi Yosef Caro. Details are sketchy regarding his other children.

He continued to progress in this manner until he was worthy of divine inspiration (ruach hakodesh). On numerous occasions Elijah the Prophet revealed himself and taught the Ari the mysteries of the Torah. Every night his soul ascended into the heavenly realms. Troops of angels would greet him to safeguard his way, bringing him to the heavenly academies. These angels would ask him which academy he chose to visit. Sometimes it would be that of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and other times he would visit the heavenly academies of Rabbi Akiva or Rabbi Eliezer the Great. On occasion he would also visit the heavenly academies of the ancient prophets.

Elijah told him the time had come to move to Safed…

In 5330 (1570), after he had attained an extremely exalted rung of holiness in Egypt, Elijah told him the time had come to move to Safed, a city in the Galilee in the north of Israel. There he would meet Rabbi Chaim Vital, the man to whom he was destined to transmit the keys to the ancient knowledge.

When he first arrived in Safed, the Ari joined the circle of students who studied Kabbalah under Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (Ramak). His discipleship was short-lived, for the Ramak passed on soon afterwards.

After the passing of the Ramak, the Ari began teaching Kabbalah. The Radbaz, who had also settled in Safed, warned him not to teach Kabbalah in public. However, later the Radbaz recanted after receiving a sign from heaven that he had erred in his ruling. (Some say that Elijah the Prophet himself visited the Radbaz and revealed to him that he had erred.) Soon a group of the leading Kabbalists in Safed gathered around him, among them Rabbi Chaim Vital, who became his chief disciple.

Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in the introduction to his Shaar HaHakdamot:

The Ari overflowed with Torah. He was thoroughly expert in Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, pilpul, Midrash, aggadah (the non-legal portions of the Talmud), maaseh bereishit and maaseh merkavah (esoteric disciplines). He was expert in the language of trees, the language of birds and the speech of angels. He could read faces in the manner outlined in the Zohar (vol. 2, p. 74b). He could discern all that any individual had done, and could see what they would do in the future. He could read people’s thoughts, often before the thought even entered their mind. He knew future events, and was aware of everything happening here on earth, and what was decreed in heaven.

He knew the mysteries of gilgul (reincarnation)—who had been born previously, and who was here for the first time. He could look at a person and tell him how he was connected to higher spiritual levels, and his original root in Adam. The Ari could read wondrous things [about people] in the light of a candle or in the flame of a fire. With his eyes he gazed and was able to see the souls of the righteous, both those who had died recently and those who had lived in ancient times. Together with, and from, these departed souls, he studied the true mysteries.

From a person’s scent, he was able to know all that he had done. (See Zohar, vol. 3, p. 188a.) It was as if the answers to all these mysteries lay dormant within him, waiting to be activated whenever he desired. He did not have to seclude himself to seek them out.

All this we saw with our own eyes. These are not things that we heard from others. They were wondrous things that had not been seen on earth since the time of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. None of this was attained through magic, heaven forbid. There is a strong prohibition against these arts. Instead, it came automatically, as a result of his saintliness and asceticism, after many years of study in both the ancient and the newer Kabbalistic texts. He then increased his piety, asceticism, purity and holiness until he reached a level where Elijah would constantly reveal himself to him, speaking to him “mouth to mouth,” teaching him these secrets.

The Ari’s Writings

The Arizal himself wrote relatively little. From his own hand we have novellae on two Talmudic tractates. These have been included in his teacher’s Shitah Mekubetzet. His writings in Kabbalah were included in Rabbi Chaim Vital’s Eitz Chaim, and are marked by Rabbi Chaim with the preface, “Found written in manuscript.” There is also a commentary on a small section of the Zohar, and a few hymns for the Sabbath, from the master himself. The bulk of his teachings were recorded by his disciples in numerous works, primarily by Rabbi Chaim Vital. His disciples also recorded his customs in a work known as Shulchan Aruch HaAri, published in Venice in 5440 (1680).

Every custom of the Ari was scrutinized, and many were accepted…

The teachings of the Ari were afforded the status of a rishon (primary authority). Every custom of the Ari was scrutinized, and many were accepted, even against previous practice. The Magen Avraham (Rabbi Avraham Gombiner, 5395–5443 (1635–1683)) accepts many of the Ari’s customs as legally binding. In deciding disputes that had remained unresolved for centuries, he often cites the Ari’s custom as the final authority.

Main Students

Included among the main students of the Ari are Rabbi Chaim Vital (Calabrese), Rabbi Yisrael Sarug, Rabbi Shmuel de Uceda (author of Midrash Shmuel), Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen, Rabbi Masoud HaMaaravi, and Rabbi Gedalia. Even among these select few, only Rabbi Chaim Vital was permitted in his master’s lifetime to write down the Ari’s teachings.

After Chyim Vital died, Rabbi Avraham Azulai and Rabbi Yaakov Semach dug up the notes Chyim had took from learning from the Ar”i which he asked to be buried with. after permission was given from Heaven in a dream.


A few times that I was walking in the field with my teacher, the Holy Ar”i, may his memory be for a blessing, and he said to me: Behold, there was a certain person, named so-and-so, who was a tzadik and a Torah scholar, but because he committed such-and-such a sin during his lifetime, he is now incarnated into this stone, or this plant, or animal. My teacher, of blessed memory, never knew these people, and we ,his students would investigate the history of these departed souls, and we would find that the facts about the deceaced person to be in accordance with his words. I am not going to go into this at length, because I could never recount all the times this happened. Other times he would gaze at a grave five hundred cubits away, amongst twenty-thousand other graves, and he would see the soul of the person buried there standing on the grave. He would tell us that so-and-so is buried in that grave, and he is undergoing such-and-such a punishment for having committed such and such a sin. We would inquire after this person, and always find it to be as my teacher said. We were witness to many amazing things like this.

The Ar”i said that every commandment is associated with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and that when someone performs a commandment, the letter associated with that commandment shines on his forehead, replacing the letter shining on his forehead from the previous commandment he performed. But If he performs the commandment of charity, the letter associated with it does not disappear as fast as the letters associated with other commandments, but rather continues to shine on his forehead the whole week.


I rarely copy other peoples work,

but this is something special,

Great merit from this to the  Government of Israel for

publishing this teaching.


Motti Ephrati



Studying the literature of the Kabbalah and turning to the teachings of mysticism and the Zohar puts off many excellent people. This distrust is quite understandable, in light of the generation and particularly the academic society in which we live, where rationalism and a scientific approach predicated upon the five senses prevail; hence anyone who delves into another dimension is viewed askance.,

In addition to this point there are other arguments to justify the negation of the Kabbalah. Below I shall present the major ones, along with the counter-arguments that justify the study of Kabbalah in our time.

The first argument asks, “Why Kabbalah?” Is there any halakhic obligation to study the mystical?

Rabbi Moses Cordovero (Remak), in Or Ne’erav (p. 17ff.) bases this halakhic obligation on Maimonides’ understanding of the mitzvah implicit in the First Commandment, “I, the Lord, am your G-d.” These are Cordovero’s words:

One of the things commanded by the Torah is that a person apprehend his Maker to the best of his intellectual ability, as it is said, “I, the Lord, am your G-d…” (Ex. 20:2). Maimonides explains this commandment at the beginning of his book [Mishne Torah, Book of Knowledge, I, 1] as follows: “The foundation of foundations and firmest pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a First Being, that He caused all beings to be.” Maimonides undoubtedly meant that this commandment includes apprehending the order of the beings that stem from Him… And so he included this in his concise language: “to know that there exists a first cause and that He brings into being all else that exists.” Thus he meant to include in this commandment the need to know also how He causes all things to be.

Remak maintains that the commandment means actual knowledge and apprehension of the Deity to the extent that one’s subjective intellectual ability allows, for otherwise how are we to interpret Maimonides’ words “to know” and the positive obligation that follows from the commandment, “I, the Lord, am your G-d”? It turns out, however, that one need not go so far. In the opinion of R. Hayyim Vital, in his introduction to his work, Etz Hayyim, the obligation to study Kabbalah stems from the commandment to study Torah:

In the plain sense of the Torah [peshat], its narratives, laws and commandments as plainly written, there is no recognition of any obligation to apprehend their Creator, may He be blessed. Moreover, there are commandments and injunctions that the intellect cannot countenance … and nearly most of the Torah’s commandments, especially their detailed laws, the rational mind does not tolerate; so, wherein lies the glory of the Torah, its beauty and greatness?

Elsewhere (Sha’ar ha-Gilgulim, preface 11), R. Hayyim Vital says quite clearly and explicitly: “‘Studying Torah counterbalances them all,’ and it has four interpretations, their anagram being PaRDeS: peshat, the plain sense; remez, allusion; derash, homiletical interpretation; and sod, the mystical; all of them must be studied,… and if one of these four is lacking to the best of a person’s ability, his soul will transmigrate on account of this.”

These words are perhaps based on the particular way the Zohar views the Torah in its entirety. The Zohar (Be-Ha’alotkha 152) perceives the Torah on several levels, just as one could see and relate to a person only superficially, on the level of his clothes, or one could look deeper at the person’s body, or even deeper at his character, into his soul. With the Torah, the superficial vision, of the clothes alone, is the narrative aspect. Looking deeper, at the body, reveals the commandments and precepts. Looking deeper still, one reaches the soul-the mystical. Thus studying the mystical is an integral part of studying Torah, hence the basis for this obligation and its importance.

The second argument is: Danger, Kabbalah!

The Sages were notedly dubious about studying Kabbalah, saying among other things, ” ‘Do not delve into that which is too wondrous for you’ (Ben Sira)– You have no business dealing with hidden secrets” (Hagigah 13a).

Rabbi Isaac De Latash responds to this argument in his preface to the Zohar (pp. 1-4):

To resolve this difficulty, let me inform you that there is no contradiction in what has been said. For the kabbalistic study of the Torah is the quest for true knowledge of the Creator, known through his deeds, and the knowledge of how He created the world through His glory-and this is the study of the ten spheres [sefirot], except that we have no business looking into the highest sphere, the supreme crown (keter) and that which is above it, which is the highest of high, called the En Sof … but investigating the other spheres, … that which has been revealed to us of Him, … is for us and our offspring, … for here contemplation and education were permitted.

In other words, “that which is too wondrous for you”-the essence of the Creator-is not for us to investigate, but His actions-His impact on the world through the angels and the sefirot-are permissible, indeed are our duty to study and try to understand.

The third argument is: Kabbalah, only after all else! It has been ruled on the basis of the words of the Sages (Hayyei Adam, 10.12; Rema, Yore De’ah 246.4), that a person should not study Kabbalah until he has filled himself with the study of gemara and the posekim, as Rema said: “Until he has filled himself with meat and wine … prohibitions and waivers, and the laws on the commandments.” In addition, Kabbalists wrote that one should not study Kabbalah until one has reached the age of forty, for it says, “By age forty one acquires wisdom” (Ethics of the Fathers 5, 21).

These contentions, as well, can reasonably be rebutted. To begin with, R. Hayyim Vital (in his preface to Etz Hayyim) cited the Ari, R. Isaac Luria, to the effect that one should not learn from or rely on kabbalistic works written after the time of Nahmanides (except for: Etz Hayyim, Mavo She’arim, and Shemona She’arim), which apparently include the source prohibiting the study of Kabbalah before age forty. Furthermore, the Ari, the greatest of all Kabbalists, did not impose such a restriction nor did he set any time limit or quota on studying Kabbalah. With regard to the argument about “filling oneself with the study of gemara” before entering the world of Kabbalah, we cite the response of Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac of Ziditchov, (mentioned in the essay, “Kol Omer Kera” by R. Isaiah Zelig Margalit):

Did not the Sages say (Kiddushin 30a), “A person should always divide his years in three, one third to Bible, one third to Mishnah, and one third to Talmud?” The gemara raises the question, “But does a person know how many years he will live?” … Therefore, it appears that this should be interpreted as applying to one’s days, dividing one’s time each day in three. This is what we do when we study Kabbalah: each day we fill ourselves with Mishnah and posekim, and then we devote ourselves to Kabbalah. For if one has to wait until one is filled with Mishnah and posekim, who knows if one will live that long? Thus it can mean nothing other than each day, individually, as interpreted by Tosafot (Gittin 9).

In other words, each day one is to fill oneself with Mishnah and posekim, in a relative, not absolute, way. This seems quite reasonable, in my humble opinion, since the definition of “filling oneself” is not quantifiable; and even if so, that is only for the very privileged few. It is inconceivable that such a considerable portion of the Torah–the mystical side– of which it is said, “Let all who wish come and partake” (Mekhilta de-Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai 19,2), should be reserved only for the few and not for the entire people.

The fourth argument is: Kabbalah is only for the genius! The Kabbalah deals with things that are beyond the intellectual capabilities of the average person, and any attempt to study it can only lead to error and heresy.

The first part of this argument stems from ignorance, for anyone who has hasome exposure to Kabbalah knows that one need not be a genius in order to have the intellectual level required to understand it. Quite the contrary, studying gemara, and especially understanding its logic, is far more difficult and demands greater analytical ability and power of concentration.

As for the danger of mistaken perceptions, Hida (Hayyim Joseph David Azulai) wrote (Etzba Moreh 44): “Studying the Zohar is the most elevated of studies, even when one does not comprehend what it says and even if one reads it wrong.” This is apparently based on the Zohar (3.85), freely translated as follows: “A person who wishes to study Torah and has found no one to teach him, yet nevertheless studies Torah out of love for the Torah but mumbles it for lack of knowledge-each and every word of his ascends on high, and the Holy One, blessed be He rejoices in each word … and they are called arvei nahal [lit. willows; a pun on arev, meaning pleasing” (cf. Remak [R. Moses Cordovero], Be-Or Ne’erav, p. 14, for further explanation).

The fifth argument is: Why Kabbalah in our generation? Our parents and grandparents managed without Kabbalah, so who are we in an era that is based primarily on material achievement to enter the deep spiritual dimension of the Torah?

That is precisely the reason. Many of the things said in the Zohar and in kabbalistic literature stress that precisely as the messianic era approaches one has more need of studying Kabbalah, and that only this study will “hasten the redemption of Israel.” The best known are the words of the prophet Elijah to R. Simeon bar Yohai (cited in Tikkunei ha-Zohar, at the end of the sixth tikkun): “How many people will be nurtured from your work, when it becomes clear in the last generation at the End of Days; and by virtue of it ‘you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land’ (Lev. 25:10).” Liberty, or Redemption, will come about in the land by virtue of the Zohar.

A broad explanation of this approach is provided by the words of Tel Aviv’s former Chief Rabbi, R. Hayyim David Halevi (in his preface to his work, Maftehot ha-Zohar ve-Ra’ayonotav):

Apparently ideas based on plain sense and exegesis will not suffice to nurture “the last generation” [based on Deut.29:21] and occupy their minds… Precisely this last generation, that will reach the greatest heights in its scientific education, soaring to the heavens in its wisdom, is likely to become giddy and lose its spiritual balance… In a time when the plain sense of the Torah and its commandments do not suffice, then the secrets of the Torah will come to nurture one’s thoughts. If one thinks that one’s ostensibly “great” intelligence cannot fathom the commandments of levirate marriage and halizah in their plain sense, then the teachings of the mystical will come and disclose before him mysterious worlds, remote and obscure realms, that no living person will ever be able to comprehend without these disclosures… and hidden inner worlds within one’s own soul, vast spiritual resources that include the living and the dead, and only then one will understand.

In the light of this we can now understand the words of Rabbi Kook (Orot ha-Kodesh, I, p. 141):

Revealing the mystical in “the last generations” to purify the hearts and occupy the minds with sublime thoughts whose origins are in the secrets of the Torah, will become, in the last generation, utterly essential to the preservation of Judaism. The descent of the generation, which led to the necessity of employing this lofty means, is itself the ascent.


Rabbi Moshe Miller



The Holy Ar’i a completely different, higher species of being
July 27, 2009, 9:04 am
Filed under: Intro to Kabbalah of the Ar"i, Uncategorized | Tags:

The  Holy Ar’i

Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), renowned as the greatest Mystic of modern times. Luria originally won fame as a mystical poet. There are a select number of individuals who live on a plane so high above the rest of humanity that it seems as if they are a completely different, higher species of being.  They teach, but we grasp but little, and from the few crumbs that we glean, we can build mountains.  Such a person was Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the holy ARI, the Lion

Rabbi Chaim Vital the greatest student of  The  Holy Ari writes in the Introduction to Shaar HaHakdamot (A introduction to the Ari’s Kaballah):

The Ari overflowed with Torah. He was thoroughly expert in Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, Pilpul,  Midrash, Agada, Maaseh  Bereishit and Maaseh  Merkava. He was expert in the language of trees, the language of birds, and the speech of angels. He could read faces in the manner outlined in the Zohar (vol. II, p. 74b). He could discern all that any individual had done, and could see what they would do in the future. He could read people’s thoughts, often before the thought even entered their mind. He knew future events, was aware of everything happening here on earth, and what was decreed in heaven.

He knew the mysteries of gilgul [ reincarnation], who had been born previously, and who was here for the first time. He could look at a person and tell him how he was connected to higher spiritual levels, and his original root in Adam. The Ari could read wondrous things [about people] in the light of a candle or in the flame of a fire. With his eyes he gazed and was able to see the souls of the righteous, both those who had died recently and those who had lived in ancient times. Together/from these departed souls, he studied the true mysteries.

From a person’s scent, he was able to know all that he had done. (See Zohar, Yenuka vol. III p. 188a). It was as if the answers to all these mysteries lay dormant within him, waiting to be activated whenever he desired. He did not have to seclude himself to seek them out.

All this we saw with our own eyes. These are not things that we heard from others. They were wondrous things that had not been seen on earth since the time of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. None of this was attained through magic, heaven forbid. There is a strong prohibition against these arts. Instead, it came automatically, as a result of his saintliness and asceticism, after many years of study in both the ancient and the newer Kabbalistic texts. He then increased his piety, asceticism, purity and holiness until he reached a level where Elijah would constantly reveal himself to him, speaking to him “mouth to mouth,” teaching him these secrets.

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria ben Shlomo Ashkenazi, was born in the Old City of Jerusalem in 5294 (1534) in what is now the Old Yishuv Court Museum, and passed away on the 5th of  Av 5332 (1572 CE). He is buried in the Old Cemetery of Tzfat (Safed), where tens of thousands make the pilgrimage to his graveside every year.

He is referred to as Rabbeinu HaAri, HaAri HaKadosh (the holy Ari), the Ari (which also means “lion”), or the  Arizal (the Ari, of blessed memory).

The following story is told about the birth of the Arizal:

There was once a very pious scholar living in Israel, named Rabbi Shlomo Luria… One day he remained in the Study Hall alone, learning, when  Elijah the Prophet appeared to him and said, “I have been sent to you by the Almighty to bring you tidings that your wife shall conceive and bear a child, and that you must call him Yitzchak (Isaac). He shall begin to deliver Israel from the kelipot [husks, forces of evil]. Through him numerous souls will receive their tikun (rectification). He is also destined to reveal many hidden mysteries in the  Torah and to explain the Zohar. His fame will spread throughout the world. Take care therefore that you not circumcise him before I (Elijah the Prophet ) come to be the Sandak [who holds the child during the circumcision ceremony].” He finished speaking and disappeared.

on the eighth day, he was brought to the synagogue to be circumcised. His father searched everywhere to see if Elijah had come as promised, but he did not see him. Everyone was urging the father to proceed, but he replied that not all the guests had yet arrived.

An hour went by, but Elijah still did not come. Then he thought bitterly to himself: My sins must have prevented him from fulfilling his promise. But as he was crying, Elijah appeared and said, “Do not cry, servant of Hashem. Draw near unto the altar and offer your son as a pure sacrifice dedicated entirely to Heaven. Sit on my chair and I shall sit upon you.” Whereupon, invisible to everyone present except Rabbi Shlomo, Elijah sat on his lap, received the child with both hands and held him during the entire circumcision. Neither the mohel nor those assembled saw anything but the father holding his baby. After the circumcision, he again promised Rabbi Shlomo that the child would bring great light to the entire world, and then he disappeared.

When  the Ari was fifteen He studied the Zohar in seclusion for another six years. He then isolated himself completely in a house near the Nile in Egypt for another two years. He remained alone, not speaking to any human being throughout the week. He would return home on the eve of Shabbat, just before dark. But even at home, he would not utter a word, even to his wife. When it was absolutely necessary for him to say something, he would say it in the least possible number of words, and then, he would speak only in the Holy language–Hebrew. The Ari and his wife had a number of children, including a son named Moshe, who passed away at a young age, and a daughter, who married the son of Rabbi   Yosef Caro. Details are sketchy regarding his other children.

He continued to progress in this manner until he was worthy of Divine inspiration ( Ruach HaKodesh). On numerous occasions, Elijah the prophet revealed himself and taught the Ari the mysteries of the Torah. Every night his soul ascended into the heavenly realms. Troops of angels would greet him to safeguard his way, bringing him to the heavenly academies. These angels would ask him which academy he chose to visit. Sometimes it would be that of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and other times he would visit the heavenly academies of Rabbi Akiva or Rabbi Eliezer the Great. On occasion he would also visit the heavenly academies of the ancient prophets.

In 5330 (1570 CE), after he had attained an extremely exalted rung of holiness in Egypt, Elijah told him the time had come to move to Safed, a city in the Galilee in the north of Israel. There, he would meet Rabbi  Chaim Vital, the man to whom he was destined to transmit the keys to the ancient knowledge. The Ar’i said he found it difficult to write down his thoughts. He told one of his students “It is impossible, because all things are interrelated. I can hardly open my mouth to speak without feeling as though the sea burst its dams and overflowed. How then shall I express what my soul has received, and how can I put it down in a book?” He was a visionary. The hidden world of Kabbalah was as clear to him as were the streets of Safed. He saw spiritual life in everything that surrounded him, and he did not regard as fixed the boundary between organic and inorganic life. For him, souls were everywhere.

The Ari’s Teachings were written down by Rabbi Chaim Vital, much like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi’s teachings, The Zohar was written down by Rabbi Abba. Rabbi Chaim Vital  wrote down 25 volumes of the Ari’s  teachings all of which the Ar’i recieved from the mouth of Elijah the Prophet, and they are not of this world. They cover every mystical concept from reincarnation to kavanah (intentions) in meditation ; from the elevation of sparks to outlining the cosmic order of four worlds and ten sefirot. His doctrine of tzimtzum (contraction of Divine light) revolutionized the understanding of Divine unity, good and evil, and the human ability to touch the Divine.Included in the main students of the Ari are Rabbi Chaim Vital (Calabrese), Rabbi Yisrael Sarug, Rabbi Shmuel Ozida (author of Midrash Shmuel), Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen, Rabbi Masud HaMaaravi, and Rabbi Gedalia. Even among these select few, only Rabbi Chaim Vital was permitted in his master’s lifetime to write down the Ari’s teachings.

The Arizal was very careful not to kill any bug…even when they bit him. …

While Moses himself received the entire Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai, it would be up to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to make the inner secrets of Torah more easily accessible to the Jews forced into exile about 1000 years later. But even then, anyone taking a close examination at the Zohar realises that unless he understands the vocabulary used, the Zohar can be a mystery of nonsensical concepts, words and descriptions. In fact, while the Zohar revealed the inner secrets of Torah, it was exceptionally good at also concealing the mysteries of the Torah!

It would take a man on the level of the holy Arizal (the initials of his name being “The G-dly Rabbi Yitzchak”) to be able to unravel the mysteries of understanding the Zohar and the entire kabbalistic tradition, and write them out in a more easily understood language. This he did by teaching his pupil Rabbi Chaim Vital the most important principles to understand. The entire tradition we have from the holy Ari was actually taught to Rabbi Vital in a period of less than two years! In fact, if not for Rabbi Chaim Vital, none of the Ari’s teachings would be available today. it was all written by his pupil. The Ari took his pupil for a boat ride along the Kinneret. At a certain point, the Ari placed a cup into the water, and drew it out, offering it to Rabbi Chaim to drink from. Rabbi Chaim said that from the time that he drank from those waters, he was able to understand everything the Ari taught him! The Ari explained that he had taken Rabbi Vital out to the very place where the Well of Miriam (which went with the Children of Israel out from Egypt) is hidden to this day!

On one occasion, he was approached by a man who had committed numerous sins. The man was wearing a hat, and had pulled it down over his forehead in the hope that the Ari would not be able to see the markings on his forehead. The Ari remarked, “Don’t you think that someone who can see through the markings on a forehead can also see through the material of a hat?!”

the Ar’i lived Torah – who breathed it, who saw the heavenly realms with his spiritual eyes, like we are able to see clearly the physical world with our physical eyes. He did everything he could possibly do to serve G-d day and night. He was a man focused on bringing this world to a state of complete perfection and ultimately to bring The Messiah Perhaps, in fact, he was The Messiah – as he once told his students that they would merit to The Messiah… Much time passed after his death, and the students complained to his main disciple, Rabbi Vital asking why they never merited to see The Messiah – just like the Ari had promised them. Rabbi Vital responded, “But you DID see The Messiah!” What could he ever have meant?!

The story is told in the book “Emek HaMelech”. It was once the eve of the holy Shabbat, close to the time when Shabbat would be coming in. The Ari and his pupils were outside in the city of Tzefat wearing garments of white in order to receive the Shabbat day. They began to welcome the Shabbat with the first Psalms recited – before actually bringing in the Shabbat day.

While they were singing, the Rav said to his disciples, “Friends, do you wish to go to Jerusalem before Shabbat and we can make Shabbat in Jerusalem?” Now… Jerusalem is a 4 hour journey by ordinary transport… let alone going by horse, let alone taking a jog there.  Shabbat was literally a few minutes away… There was simply not enough time to get there – by any ordinary means anyway!

Some of his students responded in the affirmative, and some said that they wished to go home to inform their wives first.

Since they said that they wished to go home first, the Rav trembled in great fear and hit his hands together stating, “Woe to us, that we did not have the merit to be redeemed. If only you had all answered with one voice that you wished to go in great happiness, immediately all of Israel would have been redeemed! Since now was the moment of Divine favour for this auspicious time to be redeemed, and since you refused in this matter, the exile has returned to its full strength – due to our many sins!”

The Ar’i explains when it arose within Ein-sof (the Infinite) to create Yesh (Something) from  Ayin (Nothing) Ein-sof performed an act of Tzimtzum  (contracting and concealing) itself from a point, thereby forming a central, metaphysical void. It is in this void, empty space that the Primordial Man, Adam Kadmon, and all the countless Worlds (Olamot)  emerge in.

Lights flashing and bouncing from the eyes, nose, mouth and ears of the Primordial Man emanate the ten emanations of light, the Sefirot and the 22 holy letters (Otiyot Yesod), which were to be the building blocks of the universe and the structural elements of all things.

These lights first formed vessels (Kelim) that were to contain the further emanations of the light of the infinite (Or Ein-sof). However, the vessels could not contain these emanations, and in a cosmic catastrophe known as the Breaking of the Vessels (Shevirat ha-Kelim), the vessels  shattered and fell. The letters, which had been initially assembled into meaningful groups became a Babel of nonsense. This breaking of vessels of the universe created a separation of the opposites, in particular, a split between the masculine and the feminine aspects.  The broken vessels fell down through the metaphysical void, trapping within themselves sparks of the emanated divine light, other sparks rose above. These entrapped sparks became shrouded in layers of darkness as they fell into the Sitra Achra, the ”Other Side.” The world, instead of being composed of the pristine emanations of sefirot  of Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Love, Judgment, Beauty, etc. was now formed of obscured  lights with  broken, displaced vessels as they coalesced with Klipot (Husks, complexes).

As a result of the Breaking of the Vessels, the Primordial Adam was himself partly shattered into a multitude of individual  souls,  who themselves are comprised of the same fragments or Klipot that form our world, and which are exiled and alienated in the ”Other Side.”. The task of individual men and women is to extract (via an act of birur-refinement) those sparks (netzotzim) that are his or her fortune to encounter in life, and to raise and spiritualize them, so as to reconstitute the Sefirot and the figure of the Primordial Man as five Parzufim (Visages or Personalities of God) and restore the harmony of the opposites masculine and feminine aspects in man and the world.

A Each individual, as he or she travels along life’s path, encounters those persons, events and things that contain sparks that he or she is uniquely suited to redeem. Likewise, the objects  and people who, we  encounter are potentially suited to assist  in raising the sparks within his  or her own soul. Each encounter and each life event is an opportunity to raise a spark of holy light or plunge the world even further into darkness, God forbid. The ”raising of the sparks” is the vehicle of Tikkun ha-Olam, the Restoration of the World. Creating a restored  and redeemed world, which overcomes chaos and evil. This gives meaning to that which seems senseless as well as all the world sufferings. All is part of the Divine plan to “fix” the world, and bring it to completeness.

The Ar’i explains that the Sefirot, in all worlds but the World of Points, are organized into Parzufim, ”faces” . Both the Sefirot and Parzufim are constructed of ten lights (representing each of the ten Sefirot), each of which are themselves constructed of ten more, and so on ad infinitum. However, when only a single light is illuminated in a vessel, we have a Sefirah, but when all of the 10 lights are illuminate it makes up a Partzuf . A Partzuf is an aspect or ”face” of the divinity, structured like a person with “248 limbs” and arranged in a pattern including all ten Sefirot. The first Sefrah, Keter is the skull of the Partzuf. The next three Sefirot, Chochmah, Binah, and Da’at (Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge) are the ”three brains” which are figuratively contained inside the head. Chesed and Gevurah (Kindness and Judgment) are the right and left arms, while Tiferet (Beauty, balance) is the torso. Netzach and Hod are the two thighs and Yesod the sexual organ.  Malchut (which is often identified with the feminine aspect of god, the Shekhinah) is the Partzuf’s ”female” .

Each Partzuf contains all 10 Sefirot, specific Sefirot are identified with particular Parzufim. The six major Parzufim, into which the Sefirot are reorganized are Attika Kaddisha or Arich Anpin (The Holy Ancient One or Long Face) which is identified with the Sefirah Keter, Abba (the Supernal Father ) corresponding to Chochmah, Imma (the Supernal Mother) corresponding to Binah, Ze’ir Anipin (The Short-faced One) or Ben (the Son) corresponding to the Sefirot from Chesed to Yesod and Bat (the Daughter) or Nukvah (the Female) (corresponding to Malchut). In the feminine Parzufim, the Sefirah Yesod is the phallus  the womb and female genitalia.

Sometimes Atika Kadisha is spoken of as a separate Partzuf above Arich Anpin, bringing the total number of Parzufim to six. There are also six secondary Parzufim: Jacob and Israel, which are aspects of Ze’ir Anpin, Rachel and Leah, which are aspects of Nukvah, and Israel Sava and Tevunah, which respectively personify the “Malchut” of Abba and Imma.

The Parzufim, like the Sefirot are  components of the worlds. Each thing in the world is composed of the various Parzufim, which appear in infinite relations and combinations. Like the constellations in the sky, the Parzufim are continually changing their positions, and the procession of earthly events are a result of these changes

The Parzufim also engage in regular sexual and procreative like relations, which cause the restoration and repair of the worlds. For example, Abba and Imma (the Celestial Father and Mother) are mates, who alternately engage in ”face to face” relations or turn their backs upon one another. The state of their relatedness, which is at least in part dependent upon the worship and ethical deeds of humankind, has a major impact on the flow of divine energy throughout all the worlds. Abba and Imma are also said to produce Ze’ir Anpin, who is said to develop in the womb of the Celestial mother. This procreation also contributes to Tikkun ha-Olam. The reorganization of the Sefirot into Parzufim places the Sefirot into a dialectical and procreative frame in which the creation and renewal of the world is a function of the union of God’s masculine and feminine aspects.

After this introduction one may begin learning the material  :

There are 5 parzufimof Atzilut. Each contains 5 parzufim. Each has 613 parts and is in the image of man.1 These parts include 248 limbs and 365 sinews. Each parzuf has 7 “Hachalot” (palaces). Each and every parzuf of A”k, Atzilut Bria Yetzera and Asiyah includes the parzufim called : Brain, Bone, Sinews, skin and  parzuf Flesh. 2 The 11 spices of incence coorespond to 11 gaps between the parzufim. Rabbi Yakov Abuchitzera teaches that there are 11 main sparks, curses, and spices in the incense and they correspond to Abba, imma, Yisrael Saba, Tevunah and the 7 sefirot of Zu’n of Bria Yetzera and Asyiah.3 11 sefirot are 11 aspects of the kings who died. They are 7 from Zu”n and 4 from the back of Abba Imma and Yesoit.4 Rabbi Shalom Sharabi teaches חדש מ”ה went out to make tikun of All the parzufim of Atzilut cleansing Atzilut of Nikudot. Making klipa Noga of Atzilut (real soul food ) חדש מ”ה made and makes the sparks rise) being The Nashama and its life force. Making Klipot Nogah of Bria of Good and Evil. So to in Yetzera and Asiyah. Purifying the 7 kings that died. They being ו”ה =11. As the “kidusha” in the klipa is devided into 11 aspects. These are 10 sefirot “penimi”, Being the Nashamot and the life force in them, And one “makiff ” upon them. Parralel to these are the 11 spice of Incense.5 All 10 of the sefirot is a complete parzuf except Teferet Dat and Yesod. Each of these includes 2 parzufim. So 9 sefirot are 12 parzufim. (Bina, Chuchmah, Dat-2 Chesed,Givurah,Teferet-2,Netzauch,Hod,Yesod-2) 6 There multiplies on the face of the earth 12 פנים (faces), 12 Holy parzufim to the Nashamot.7 Each parzuf is made of all 5 making a total of 25 parzufim.8 Each of these 25 pazufim is made of 5 parzufim making a total of 125.9 All Parzufim of Bria, Yetzera and Asiyah go out of Zu’n of Atzilut.10 The 5 parzufim in Bria are as in Atzilut except Arich and Abba of Bria have only 6 corners, but Imma in Bria is a complete parzuf of 10 sefirot, She has only one “makiff”. Z”a of Bria has 2 “makiff”. In Yetzera Arich and Abba are in the aspect of only 3 sefirot on 3 sefirot . Imma, Teferet and Malchut of Yetzera each have only 6 corners. Imma of Yetzera has no “makiff”, Tereret has one “makiff,and Nakavah has 2. In Asiyah Abba is only a small point, but Arich is 3 sefirot included in 3 as the rest of the sefirot of Asiyah except Abba. This is becouse in Asiyah Arich is the middle pillar.11 All the parzufim must be refined as they are made of vessels and sparks of the 7 kings of “Olam Nikudim” that shattered to 320 aspects.  Atzilut is shut in the “reshimu”. The world is according to vessels and not lights. From Yesod is the aspect of the body, inside is the soul. A”k of Atzilut, Bria, Yetzera and Asiyah is the tip of the י of 4 יהוה.12 There are names of יהוה. in Binna, Z’a and Nakavah. They are drawn from אלהים. Every יהוה. is the aspect of eyes. This is the idea of round letters.13 After tikun the source of בן is in Nakavah of A”k. From the Yesod of A”k goes a drop of “mym duchrin”, which is the secret of the name מ”ה. מ”ה is the Yesod of “duchrah”. מ”ה goes out of the forehead of A”k. This is the idea of dominance of the Nashama.14 The Shomer Emunim, R. Argosi teaches that the essence of Godliness is פשות (simple) It is not separated from Atzilut, as it is not divided.into portions. The Keter of A”k is אחדות פשות (simple unity). It has no relationship with any Divine names written in the Torah. Out of it unfolds a multitude of aspects. Keter of A”k is a vessel of Ayn Sof. It is as the parchment of the Torah is written on before any letters are inscribed. A”k is before all eminations. From the 10 sefirot of A”k are eminated 10 sefirot of Atzilut. The sefirot of A”k and Atzilut are all renewed completely. Its as lighting one candle as another. “kav Yosher” dresses in A”K. Light decends from A”k to Atzilut. There is a portion of Ayn Soff in A”k and not by “histosholut” (gadual unfolding), but only the Ayn Soff has power to create “yash-miAyin”. The Ayn Soff renews Atzilut, but to the Ayn Soff there is no changes or renewal. Ayn Sof is רצון (will). A”k does have the aspect of vessels but they are of very fine light. With A”k is no aspect of “Zachor” or “Nakavah”. Also with Atik of Atzilut is no “Zachor” and “Nakavah” only face and back. Keter of Arich is Zachor, Chuchmah of Arich is Nakavah. Zachor and Nakavah do find their source in עב Chuchmah and סג Binna of A”k. These give birth to מ”ה of A”k. The “penimi” and “Atzmut” of A”k we do not have permission of discuss or to be occupied in. Only what He eminates flowing through wholes and windows. These being the Ears , Eyes, nose, mouth and other parts of the head of A”k. In Ayn Soff and A”k there is no form at all. The Vessels of Atzilut have no limit or Measure, not a physical one. Their only restrictions are according to intellect. Before there was eminated A'”k there was Nothing. There was no aspect of זמן (time). The sefirot of Atzilut are above “sedar Zamanim” (order of times). The sefirot themselves do not have the Existance of time “mammash”. Ketter is The Torah before creation of the world. This is Z”a. The 2000 years before creation are Abba and Imma.15 From Yosher of A”k went our many lights going out from the ears,nose, mouth. Lights of the mouth of A”k are called “olam Akudim” (Malchut A”k). These are the lights of “yosher” alone, they do not have a aspect of “Iggulim”. There are lights from the eyes of A”k called “Akudim” these do have aspects of “Yosher” and “Iggulim”. These lights stand from the back of A”k until the feet and are called Nh”y A”k. (Light of the eyes of A”k is Chuchmah its עבof A”k, but at the feet its Nh”y from chuchmah of A”k)16 A”k is one י ה וה , its brain י is עב. Its ה is the ear of A”k and reaches till the feet, it isסג .. The ו is מה and goes out of the forehead of Ak. The final ה is ב”ן and is “Nikudim”.17 The light of the eyes of A”k is revealed in the world of “nikudim” which is from the Belly of A”k and below. At the belly is מה of A’k this is the גר of Nikudim. ב”ן of A”k is the 6 corners of Nikudim. Then this light is channeled through the 8 dikna of the beard. The vessels that broke were from the eyes of A”k.18 Rabbi Shalom Sharrabi teaches that The “kav Yashar” dresses in Chuchmah and Binna of A’k through the parzufim. Including all parzufim until Malchut of Atzilut. Where there is made a מסך (screen-filter) that forms Atik of Bria. All parzufim of Bria receive from Binna of A’k, and Binna of Atzilut. This is Binna possessing in the Thrown. The lights decend throught the Parzufim dressing until Malchut of Bria where there is made a 2nd מסך. Z’a of A’k, Atzilut and Bria decend through the מסך to make Atik of Yetzera and all 5 parzufim of Yetzera. A 3rd מסך is made from Malchut of A’k, Atzilut , Bria, Yetzera. Through this מסך decends the 7 lower lights of Malchut of Yetzera which makes Atik of Asiyah and all 5 parzufim of Asiyah. This is the idea of Malchut possessing in a אופן .19 All 5 Parzufim of Atzilut is only the aspect of “6 corners” compared to A’k, being all from מה of A’k and below (Atzilut is from the yichud of Abba and Imma of A”k, it is Z”a of A”k) . The 5 parzufim of A”k draw light of Ayn Soff for the parzufim of Atzilut.The Ayn sof illuminates until the first 3 sefirot of Yesoi”t. ה”אל יהו”ה is Arich Abba and Imma. Zu”n rises by tikun in Abba and Imma in By”a parzuf in parzuf. After tikun by Abba and Imma Zu’n rises to tikun in Arich. By this way is made all purifications until reaching their place in A”k. The 5 parzufim of Atzilut then can receive flow from עב of A’k, this is called revelation of “mochin” called “chayah”. This is when the Nashamot of Saddekem rise up to the belly of  Arich of Atzilut. The ruach can rise to Nakavah of Atzilut, and the Nefesh rises up to Briah. The parzuf of Nakavah called Rachel begins in the back of the chest of Z’a where there stands the conclusion of the Yesod of Imma in Z’a. 5 Chassadim spread in Z’a from the Yesod of Imma which is at his chest to below, as there is the place of revealed Chassadim. From here its possible for the Chitzon to seize so its called “Atz dat”(This is the yesod of imma at the chest of Z”a-Atz Dat). Chassadim are dat of Z”a. The Chassadim are called “stomim” (closed) above the chest of Z’a are covered in the Yesod of Imma. The Yesod of Imma is as a tent or “succah”.20 This is good as here the klippot can not nourish. “Chitzon” and “Klipa” only seize from the back so they are “elokim acharym. Even from the face of Nakavah the “chitzon” cannot feed  Only from her back.21 The Dat of Z’a is called “stomim”, so it does not need to be guarded. There is no seizing of it from the Sitra Achra. It is called water. The Chassadim of Z’a are of 3 aspects called נ סע. In the head of Z’a are 5 Chassadim each having 10 aspects making a total of   “נ” 50 chassadim. These spread out in Z’a. “ס” 60 Chassadim are covered in the Yesod of Imma. In the first 1/3 of Teferet Z’a are the closed “stomim”  Chassadim. In the lower 2/3 of Teferet of Z’a are the “ע” 70 revealed Chassadim.These 70 are made of 18 Chassadim from Teferet and 52 chassadim from Netzauch and Hod. Malchut is only built by what is raised called “aorot nakavot” (feminine lights), even the aspect of chassadim (are raised in Nakavah).22 The Chassadim “stomim” (concealed – closed) are from the chest of Z’a and above where there is  there the “mesach” of the Yesod of Imma. The revealed chassadim are from the chest and below. First there spreads out chassadim in Z’a, then givurot. From this is made the middle pillar. The chassadim spread in Z’a from dat and below.23 The Yesod of Imma is as a tent of “succah”.24 Chasadim cover the 2 arms, which are wings allowing one to rise from Asiyah to Yetzera. The Chassadim of the 2 arms are “stommim” (closed), they cannot be revealed below. The source of these Chassadim is in Dat. These Chassadim spread out and lights are renewed from them.25 3 Chassadim fell from the Yesod of Imma to the Yesod of Z’a. These are the Chassadim of Teferet, Netzauch and hod.26

  1. 1Yadid Nefesh

  1. 2Arba Maot Shekal kessef p.20-Ar’i, Rachavot HaNahar p.47

  1. 3Patachy Chotam p.251

  1. 4Shomer Emunim p.137

  1. 5Nahar Shalom p.110

  1. 6 “              “      p.131

  1. 7Aor Yakar Vol 2 p.232

  1. 8Machsavot Betzalael, R. Shira  Debelski p.29

  1. 9 “                   “                                     p.53

  1. 10R.Semach Idra p.97

  1. 11Shomer Emunim p.131

  1. 12Rachavot HaNahar p.24

  1. 13Shomer Emunim p.135

  1. 14Adir Bimarom p.268

  1. 15Shomer Emunim p.36,37,41,71,73,77,80,99,123

  1. 16Arba Maod Shekel Kassef p.19

  1. 17Shomer Emunim p.139

  1. 18Rachovot HaNahar p.36, Rabbi Nachman’s Stories p.374

  1. 19Nahar Shalom p.197

  1. 20Mhl p.5,sulam on zohar Chadash Vetchanon p.5

  1. 21Shomer Emunim p.135

  1. 22Shomer Emunim p.117

  1. 23Atz Chyim

  1. 24Mhl p.5

  1. 25Shar Ruach Hakodesh p.144

  1. 26Safer Lekutim p.219

This will be continued…………………………………………………….