"The Holy Lion"

Rabbi Itzhak Ashkenazi Luria or “Ha’Ari hakadosh” (the holy lion,) was the greatest of Tzfat Kabbalists in the 16th century.

 

His influence on Jewish mysticism is enormous.  His interpretation of the Kabbalah which is called "Lurianic Kabbalah" has had a great influence on the entire Jewish world.

Rabbi Luria was born in Jerusalem in 1534.  Legend has it that the Prophet Elijah appeared for his “brit”, (circumcision), and was his godfather.

After his father died his mother took him to live with her brother, Mordechai Francis, an affluent and well respected member of the Jewish community in Cairo.  In Egypt he studied with the famous Rabbis Beztalel and David Ben Zimra.

The “Lion” was a brilliant scholar already at the early age of thirteen.  Before he reached his twenties, “The Ari” was known for his great knowledge of the Talmud.  Very quickly he gained mastery over all the knowledge he learned from his teachers and then he discovered the “Zohar”.

In order to gain the enlightenment that he seeked he would withdraw into caves and dive into the depths of the "Zohar".  He lived has a hermit for thirteen years while studying the "Zohar".  At times he would contemplate on one sentence for months until he would discover the hidden meaning.

The Ari”, lived in his uncle’s house in Egypt until he was thirty - six years old.  Legend has it that in 1570 the Prophet Elijah came to him and told him to move to Tzfat in northern Israel and to teach Rabbi Haim Vital everything he knows.  He did so, and for two years he taught Rabbi Haim Vital. When he reached the age of thirty - eight Rabbi Luria died.

The Ari” himself never wrote about his learning.  All that we know about his teachings is what his student, Rabbi Haim Vital, wrote in the book “the Tree of Life” and also in eight volumes called “the Eight Gates” which explains the Ari’s teachings about reincarnation, as well as his interpretation on the prayers and the intention behind each commandment.

Rabbi Luria uncovered wonderous secrets within the teachings of the Zohar.  He described a more advanced evolution than that which Darwin talked about a few centuries after him. 

The great philosopher and mathematician, Libnitz, who developed mathematics and with it, the body of knowledge that we all had to learn in high school and university, was deeply influenced by the Kabbalah. Issac Newton, often described as the greatest scientist of all time, studied Kabbalah in hiding and found in it very similar ideas to some of his own greatest discoveries.

At the age of thirty - eight Rabbi Luria left this world after creating a great signature on the Kabbalah.  Until today, there is no equal.  He left us with a spiritual system which when fully dechipered and understood will allow humanity to control collective destiny. We are talking about a road map and guide for "body and soul" which will free humanity from the chaos, fear, pain and suffering of this world.