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The Holy Arizal: Our Teacher...Our Master



The Holy Arizal: Our Teacher...Our Master

Although Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Arizal) wrote relatively little himself, as mentioned in the "Works" section, his teachings were nevertheless systematically recorded by his disciples, primarily by Rabbi Chaim Vital. It is from these teachings that the startlingly innovative teachings of the Arizal have been given to posterity.

Following the era of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his disciples, a long line of distinguished kabbalists focused their teachings on one or more of the themes already found explicitly or implicitly in early texts such as Sefer Yetzira , Sefer HaBahir and Zohar and in the works of their immediate predecessors and contemporaries. They set out to clarify and compare these teachings, and ultimately to transmit them to a disciple or small group of select disciples. In this sense the work of the Kabbalists after the Tannaitic era (i.e., until the 4th or 5th century CE) was primarily classificatory, with very little by way of innovation.

The Arizal, however, was clearly an original thinker. Although he also set out to explain the most abstruse parts of the kabbalistic literature available at the time, particularly Zohar, his analysis of those texts and the innovations he subsequently taught his disciples were unparalleled and may therefore be regarded as an entirely new school of kabbalistic thought.

There are five areas of focus in the Arizal's teachings that may be regarded as the primary innovations of his system: the concept of tzimtzum (G‑d's self-contraction, so to speak) through its various stages; the process of shevirat hakeilim (the shattering of the vessels in the world of Tohu); the Tikkun (rectification) of that shevira through birur hanitzotzot (elevating the sparks); the concept of partzufim (literally, "visages" — compound structures of the sefirot in arrays that interact with each other); the nature of the soul, the purpose of its descent into this world, and its relationship with the higher realms and ultimately with G‑d.

Rabbi Moshe Miller was born in South Africa and received his yeshivah education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including an authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He has developed a coaching-type approach to dealing with life's issues based on Chassidism and Kabbalah—a tool for dealing with normal issues that everyone faces as well as issues psychologists usually address, often ineffectively. He also gives free live classes over the Internet.
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Cherise Seattle August 27, 2017

Can I go to psychics and study the kabbalah? Reply

Jorge Qro. Mexico November 16, 2016

A popup bubble would make it easier. Is it not supposed we had to have a popup bubble over the word "Shevira". I looked it up in the glossary and it redirected me to an explanation by the same author of this Introduction; Moshe Miller; where I understood that "Shevirat Hakeilim" is the shattering of the vessels in the world of Tohu and Tikkun is the rectification of that "Shevira" i.e. "Shevira" is the shattering of the vessels.
But... I'm right? Reply

Anonymous USA July 7, 2013

The Holy Arizal I would like to receive Kabbalah lessons with my email. I have the Zohar with me. I like it very much. I hope I bought the right one. This is from The Soncino Press, Ltd. I have been reading the five volume periodically. Although it is such a beautiful, poetic concept, sometimes is a little difficult to understand. But, it does makes Torah reading a lot more easier and understandable. Maybe, if you would be so kind as to subscribe me to your list of Kabbalah studies, I will improve my understanding. Thank you so much. As my learning increase so does my love for our King of King. The secret of loving Him so much as He loves us is by knowing His ways. Reply

Webmaster via March 29, 2012

Re: to Anonymous, Brooklyn We will subscribe you to all of our Kabbalah lists. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn, n.y. March 6, 2012

kabbalah I would like like to receive kabbalistic lessons daily if that is possible. Reply

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