Lurianic Kabbalah

the emanation of worlds

Short essay on Lurianic Kabbalah

Yakov Leib HaKohain

Isaac Luria (1534-1572) -- also known as the "Ari Zaal," or "Divine Rabbi Isaac," -- was, and remains to this day, unarguably the greatest Kabbalist in world history. His doctrines, based entirely on the Old Testament and Zohar, anticipated virtually world-for-word -- or at the very least, concept for concept -- the theory of the "Big Bang" origins of the universe in astrophysics. Thus, the cosmogony of a 16th century Jewish Kabbalist was literally validated by modern science four hundred years later.

The details of Luria's Kabbalah are far too complicated to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that his doctrine of SheviretHaKelim, or "Shattering of the Vessels," was at their core and profoundly influenced all subsequent Kabbalistic theosophy.

Put simply, the doctrine of Sheviret HaKelim states (as does also the 20th century Big-Bang theory) that the Universe (i.e.,the Unity of  God) was shattered at the moment of mundane creation.  From this cataclysm, "Holy Sparks" flew off in all directions, some returning to their Source, others falling into the world of "things" and "beings."  Thus, as the Baal Shem Tov states, "In all that is in the world dwell Holy Sparks, no things is empty of them; in the actions of men also, indeed even in the sins he does, dwell Holy Sparks of God."

Thus, the Kabbalistic notion of Tikkun Olam, or "Repair of the World," is based on the principle that all things and actions in the world, no matter how seemingly trivial, are saturated with Holy Sparks,  yearning to return to the state of premundane unity from which they fell at the creation of the world. Again, modern Chaos Theory in physics states much the same principle when it proposes that all disturbed systems seek to return to their pre-existent state of "quasi-stationary equilibrium."

Sabbatean Kabbalah

One hundred years after Luria, in 1665-66, the Jewish Messiah and avatar, Sabbatai Zevi, began completing the Tikkun Olam through various "strange gestures," including his conversion to Islam. Thousands of his millions of followers followed him into this "Holy Apostasy," as did the followers of Yakov Leib Frank into Christianity another hundred years after that. Today, the DONMEH forum is attempting to complete the great task initiated by Sabbatai Zevi through the powerful medium of the internet.

In Association with
Lurianic Reading List

very technical Ten Luminous Emanations by Yehuda Ashlag - Paperback Vol 001 (June 1970) Kabbalah Learning Center

very technical Ten Luminous Emanations by Yehuda Ashlag - Paperback Vol 002 (June 1973) Kabbalah Learning Center

Book in Print Safed Spirituality by Lawrence Fine. Paulist Press, 1984

Book Meditation and Kabbalah by Aryeh Kaplan

very technical The Light of Redemption by Levi Krakovsky

very technical General Principles of Kabbalah by Moses Luzzatto

not too technical Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism by Gershom Scholem

technical Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem

non-technical The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Adin Steinsaltz, transl. by Yehuda Hanegbi

very technical Lessons in Tanya : The Tanya of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi edited Yosef Vaynberg, transl. by Sholom Wineberg and Levi Wineberg

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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 28 May 1998, most recent update 3 June 2001