Arizal – the Great Kabbalist


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Biography and summary of the teachings of the greatest Kabbalist – Rabbi Yitzhak ben Shlomo Luria (Arizal).

The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 contributed to an extraordinary upsurge in the study of the Kabbalah. If before it was the property of only a select few who were engaged in the Kabbalah behind closed doors, now even the broad masses of the people of Israel have joined its study. There were several reasons for this. First, people were overwhelmed by the expectation of the imminent arrival of the Mashiach, which they hoped to accelerate even more through the study of the book of the Zohar, which says that the reward for its study will come to an end to the Jewish exile. In addition, the idea was in the air that the time had come to discover the secrets of the Kabbalah: “The heavenly sentence prohibiting the study of true wisdom (i.e., the Kabbalah) is limited to the year 5250 (1490), and from it begins the time that is called in the Zohar by the “last generation” (before the arrival of the Mashiach), when the ban is lifted and permission is given to study the Zohar; from 5300 (1540 – Safed became the center of study of the Kabbalah) it becomes a g-d’s business, to which everyone from young to old should devote themselves …

As a result of this upsurge in enthusiasm, Jews began to realize that the ideal place for them—where they could live a full Jewish life—was the Land of Israel. Many Jews moved to the Land of Israel at that time and remained to live in it. The exiles from Spain, who felt the need for spiritual revival, saw in the Land of Israel a place where it is possible to achieve spiritual perfection. Most of all they were attracted to the city of Safed. Thanks to the influx of exiles from Spain, his Jewish community grew rapidly and turned this city into a spiritual center of the Jewish people of exceptional importance.
With the relocation of Arizal to Safed – in 5380 (1570) – Safed reached the pinnacle of its glory. Only for a short time this flowering lasted: about twenty years after the death of Arizal, a decline began. Today, however, the spirit of Arizal hovers over Safed, over the three synagogues that tradition associates with it, and, of course, over the entire teachings of the Kabbalah.


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