Isaac Luria taught what amounts to a 16th-century version of a gnostic myth, organized around three main themes: tzimtzum [“contraction”], shevirat ha-kelim. Rabbi Isaac Luria () is among the most influential, and remarkable, Kabbalists of all time. Called the Ari, or Holy Lion (the name is an. Lurianic Kabbalah takes its name from Isaac Luria (–), one of the great sages of Kabbalah. Lurianic Kabbalah is considered modern Kabbalah.
Lurianic Kabbalah is a school of kabbalah lurianif after the Jewish rabbi who developed it: Lurianic Kabbalah lurianif a seminal new account of Kabbalistic lurianc that its followers synthesised with, and read into, the earlier Kabbalah of the Zohar that had disseminated in Medieval circles. These concepts derive from Isaac Luria’s interpretation of and mythical speculations on references in the Kabbaah.
Previous interpretations of the Zohar had culminated in the rationally influenced scheme of Moses ben Jacob Cordovero in Safedimmediately before Luria’s arrival. Both Cordovero’s and Luria’s systems gave Kabbalah a theological systemisation to rival the earlier eminence of Medieval Jewish philosophy.
Under the influence of the mystical renaissance in 16th-century Safed, Lurianism became the near-universal mainstream Jewish theology in the early-modern era,  both in scholarly circles and in the popular imagination.
The Lurianic scheme, read by its followers as harmonious with, and successively more advanced kabbalan the Cordoverian,  mostly displaced it, becoming the foundation of subsequent developments in Jewish mysticism. After the Ari, the Zohar was interpreted in Lurianic terms, and later esoteric Kabbalists expanded mystical theory within the Lurianic system. The later Hasidic and Mitnagdic movements diverged over implications of Lurianic Kabbalah, and its social role in popular mysticism.
The Sabbatean mystical tradition would also derive its source from Lurianic messianism, but had a different understanding of the Kabbalistic interdependence of mysticism with Halakha Jewish observance.
The characteristic feature of Luria’s theoretical and meditative system is his recasting of the previous, static hierarchy of unfolding Divine levelsinto a dynamic cosmic spiritual drama of exile and redemption. Through this, kabvalah there became two historical versions of the theoretical-theosophical tradition in Kabbalah:.
The mystical doctrines of Kabbalah appeared in esoteric circles in 12th century Southern France Provence – Languedocspreading to 13th century Northern Spain Catalonia and other regions.
Mystical development culminated with the Zohar ‘s dissemination fromthe main text of Kabbalah. Medieval Kabbalah incorporated motifs described as ” Neoplatonic ” linearly descending realms between the Infinite and the finite” Gnostic ” in the sense of various powers manifesting from the singular Godheadrather than plural gods and ” Mystical ” in contrast to rationalsuch as Judaism’s first doctrines of reincarnation. Subsequent commentary on the Zohar attempted to provide a conceptual framework in which its highly symbolic imagery, loosely associated ideas, and seemingly contradictory teachings could be unified, understood, and organised systematically.
Meir ben Ezekiel ibn Gabbai born was a precursor in this, but Moshe Cordovero ‘s — encyclopedic works influentially systemised the scheme of Medieval Kabbalah, though they did not explain some important classic beliefs such as reincarnation. The sephirot Divine attributes in Kabbalah, act as discrete, autonomous forces in the functional unfolding of each level of Creation from potential to actual.
The welfare of the Upper Divine Realm, where the sephirot are manifest supremely, is mutually bound up with the welfare of the Lower Human Realm. The acts of Man, at the end of the chain, affect harmony between the sephirot in the higher spiritual Worlds.
Mitzvot Jewish observances and virtuous deeds bring unity Above, allowing unity between God and the Shekhinah Divine Presence Below, opening the Flow of Divine vitality throughout Creation. Sin and selfish deeds introduce disruption and separation throughout Creation. Evilcaused through human deeds, is a misdirected overflow Below of unchecked Gevurah Severity on High.
The 16th century renaissance of Kabbalah in the Galilean community of Safedwhich included Joseph KaroMoshe AlshichCordovero, Luria and others, was shaped by their particular spiritual and historical outlook.
After the Expulsion from Spain they felt a personal urgency and responsibility on behalf of the Jewish people to hasten Messianic redemption. This involved a stress on close kinship and ascetic practicesand the development of rituals with a communal-messianic focus. The new developments of Cordovero and Luria in systemising previous Kabbalah, sought mystical dissemination beyond the close scholarly circles to which Kabbalah had previously been restricted.
They held that wide publication of these teachings, and meditative practices based on them, would hasten redemption for the whole Jewish people.
Where the messianic aim remained only peripheral in the linear scheme of Cordovero, the more comprehensive theoretical scheme and meditative practices of Luria explained messianism as its central dynamic, incorporating the full diversity of previous Kabbalistic concepts as outcomes of its processes.
Luria conceptualises the Spiritual Worlds through their inner dimension of Divine exile and redemption. The Lurianic mythos brought deeper Kabbalistic notions to the fore: Luria gave esoteric theosophical articulations to the most fundamental and theologically daring questions of existence. Religious Kabbalists see the deeper comprehensiveness of Lurianic theory being due to its description and exploration of aspects of Divinity, rooted in the Ein Softhat transcend the revealed, rationally apprehended mysticism described by Cordovero.
Where Cordovero described the Sefirot Divine attributes and the Four spiritual Realmspreceded by Adam Kadmonunfolding sequentially out of the Ein Sof, Luria probed the supra-rational origin of these Five Worlds within the Infinite. This revealed new doctrines of Primordial Tzimtzum Withdrawal and the Shevira shattering and reconfiguration of the sephirot. In Kabbalah, what preceded more deeply in origins, is also reflected within the inner dimensions of subsequent Creation, so that Luria was able to explain messianismDivine aspectsand reincarnationKabbalistic beliefs that remained unsystemised beforehand.
This sees inner dimensions within any level of Creation, whose origin transcends the level in which they are enclothed. The spiritual paradigm of Creation is transformed into a dynamical interactional process in Divinity.
Divine manifestations enclothe within each other, and are subject to exile and redemption:. The concept of hitlabshut “enclothement” implies a radical shift of focus in considering the nature of Creation.
According to this perspective, the chief dynamic of Creation is not evolutionary, but rather interactional. Higher strata kaabbalah reality are constantly enclothing themselves within lower strata, like the soul within a body, thereby infusing every element of Creation with an inner force that transcends its own position within the universal hierarchy.
Hitlabshut is very much a “biological” dynamic, accounting for the life-force which resides within Creation; hishtalshelut, on the other hand, is a “physical” one, concerned with the condensed-energy of “matter” spiritual vessels kabbzlah than the life-force of the soul.
Due to this deeper, more internal kabbalxh, the new doctrines Luria luriamic explain Kabbalistic teachings and passages in the Zohar that remained superficially understood and externally described before. Seemingly unrelated concepts become unified as part of a comprehensive, deeper picture. Kabbalistic systemisers before Luria, culminating with Cordovero, were influenced by Maimonides lurkanic philosophical Guidein their quest to decipher the Zohar intellectually, and unify esoteric wisdom with Jewish philosophy.
The teachings of Luria challenge the soul to go beyond mental limitations. Though presented in intellectual terms, it remains a revealed, supra-rational doctrine, giving a sense of being beyond intellectual grasp.
In the academic study of Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem saw Lurianism as a historically located response to the trauma of Spanish exile, a fully expressed mythologising of Judaism, and a uniquely paradoxically messianic mysticism, as mysticism phenomenologically usually involves withdrawal from community. Isaac Luria propounded the doctrine of the Tzimtzummeaning alternatively: Previous Kabbalah taught that before the purianic of the spiritual or physical realms, the Ein Sof “Without End” Divine simplicity filled all reality.
Medieval Kabbalah held that at the beginning of Creation, from the Ein Sof emerged from concealment the 10 Sephirot Divine attributes to emmanate existence.
The vitality first shone to Adam Kadmon “Primordial Man”the realm of Divine Willnamed metaphorically in relation to Man who is rooted in the initial Divine plan. From Adam Kadmon emerged sequentially the descending Four spiritual Realms: At each stage, the absorbed flow created realms, transmitting residue to lower levels. He advanced an initial, radical primordial Tzimtzum leap before Creation, the self-withdrawal of Divinity.
The vacuum was not totally empty, as a slight Reshima “Impression” of the prior Reality remained, similar to water that clings to an emptied vessel.
While still infinite, this new vitality was radically different from the original Infinite Light, as it was now potentially tailored to the limited perspective of Creation. As the Ein Sof perfection encompassed both infinitude and finitude, so the Infinite Light possessed concealed-latent finite qualities. The Tzimtum allowed infinite qualities to retire into the Ein Sof, and potentially finite qualities to emerge. As the Kav shone into the centre of the vacuum it encompassed ten “concentric” Iggulim the conceptual scheme of “Circles”forming the sephirotallowing the Light to appear in their diversity.
The first divine configuration within the vacuum comprises Adam Kadmonthe first pristine spiritual realm described in earlier Kabbalah. It is the manifestation of the specific divine will for subsequent creation, within the relative framework of creation.
Its luriwnic name metaphorically indicates the paradox of creation Adam — man and manifestation Kadmon — primordial divinity.
Man is intended as the luranic embodiment in subsequent creation, not yet emerged, of the divine manifestations. The Kav forms the sephirotstill only latent, of Adam Kadmon in two stages: In Luria’s systematic explanation of terms found in classic Kabbalah:.
In man the ten sephirotic powers of the soul act in harmony, reflected in the different limbs of the body, each with a particular function.
Luria explained that it is the Yosher configuration of the sephirot that is referred to by Genesis 1: However, in Adam Kadmon, both configurations of the sephirot remain only in potential.
Adam Kadmon is pure divine light, with no vessels, bounded by its future potential will to create vessels, and by the limiting effect of the Reshima. From the non-corporeal figurative configuration of Adam Kadmon emanate five lights: These interact with each other to create three particular spiritual world-stages after Adam Kadmon: Akudim “Bound” — stable chaosNekudim “Points” — unstable chaosand Berudim “Connected” — beginning of rectification.
Each realm is a sequential stage in the first emergence of the sephirotic vessels, prior to the world of Atziluth Emanationthe first of the comprehensive four spiritual worlds of creation described in previous Kabbalah. As the sephirot emerged within vessels, they acted as ten independent Iggulim forces, without inter-relationship.
Chesed Kindness opposed Gevurah Severityand so with the subsequent emotions. This state, the world of Tohu Chaos precipitated a cosmic catastrophe in the Divine realm. Tohu is characterised by great divine Ohr Light in weak, immature, unharmonised vessels.
As the divine light poured into the first intellectual sephirot, their vessels were close enough to their source to contain the abundance of vitality. However, as the overflow continued, the subsequent emotional sephirot shattered Shevirat HaKeilim — “Shattering of the Vessels” from Binah Understanding down to Yesod the Foundation under the intensity of the light.
The final sephirah Malkhut Kingship remains partially intact as the exiled Shekhina feminine divine immanence in creation. This is the esoteric account in Genesis  and Chronicles  of the eight Kings of Edom who reigned before any king reigned in Israel. The shards of the broken vessels fell down from the realm of Tohu into the subsequent created order of Tikun Rectificationsplintering into innumerable fragments, each animated by exiled Nitzutzot Sparks of their original light.
The more subtle divine sparks became assimilated in higher spiritual realms as their creative lifeforce.
The Differences Between Lurianic Kabbalah and Hermetic Kabbalah, Part 1 — Yetzirah Games
The coarser animated fragments fell down into our material realm, with lower fragments nurturing the Kelipot Shells in their realms of impurity. The subsequent comprehensive Four spiritual Worlds of Creation, described in previous Kabbalah, embody the Lurianic realm of Tikun “Rectification”. Tikun is characterised by lower, less sublime lights than Tohu, but in strong, mature, harmonised vessels. Rectification is first initiated in Berudimwhere the sephirot harmonise their 10 forces by each including the others as latent principles.
In Zoharic Kabbalah the partzufim appear as particular supernal Divine aspects, expounded in the esoteric Idrotbut become systemised only in Lurianism. The 6 lrianic partzufim, which further divide into 12 secondary forms:.
The Parzufim are the sephirot acting in the scheme of Yosheras in man. Kabbalqh than latently including other principles independently, the partzufim transform each sephirah into full anthropomorphic three-column configurations of 10 sephirot, each of which interacts and enclothes within the others.
Through the parzufim, the ljrianic and lack of harmony that instigated shevirah is healed. Atziluththe supreme realm of Divine manifestation and exclusive consciousness of Divine Unity, is eternally rectified by the partzufim; its root sparks from Tohu are fully redeemed. However, the kabbbalah three Worlds of Beri’ah “Creation”Yetzirah “Formation” and Assiah “Action” embody successive levels of self-consciousness independent of Divinity.
Active Tikun rectification of lower Creation can only be achieved luriani Below, from within its limitations and perspective, rather than imposed from Above. Messianic redemption and transformation of Creation is performed by Man in the lowest realm, where impurity predominates. This proceeding was absolutely necessary.
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