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The Redemption of the Universe - the Individual's task

the history of the world according to Lurianic Kabbalah
tikkun - the Cosmic Transformation

According to Isaac Luria, the rectification of the two lower principles of the Godhead ­ the Ze'er Anpin or God of Israel, and the Nukvah or Shekinah ­ is still not complete.  And in an age in which the historical exile of the Jews was a terrible and constant reality to them, the religious idea of the exile of the Shekinah (the "bride of God", the female polarity of the Divine immament in the nation of Israel) gained great importance.  Rather than being a metaphor, it now became a genuine symbol for the "broken" state of things.  To lead the Shekinah back to her Master (Ze'er Anpin, or God) and unite the two was considered by Jews the true purpose of the Torah.  By fulfilling all the Commandments the pious Jew contributed to this task.

The practice of Kavanah took this idea a step further.  Prayer becomes a mystical action which influences the worlds through which the Kabbalist ascends in his Kavanah.  Since Kavanah is of a spiritual nature, it brings about a corresponding change in the spiritual worlds.  It becomes part of the overall process of Tikkun.  Thus the process of restoration is brought about not only by God, but also by His creature.

Through the practice of Kavanah the practitioner not only elevates his own soul, but also influences all the worlds as well.  The true worshipper thus exercises a tremendous influence over the spiritual worlds, and bears a correspondingly great responsibility for the fulfillment of the Messianic task [Sholem, pp.275­276].  And here the diaspora ­ the exile of the Jews from their original homeland ­ aquires a new and deeper meaning.  Rather than being seen as a punishment for Israel's sins, or a test of her faith, it is understood as a divine mission; to uplit the fallen sparks from their various localities.

 "This is the secret why Israel is fated to be enslaved by the Gentiles of the world: in order that it may uplift those sparks which have also fallen among them....And therefore it was necessary that Israel should be scattered to the four winds in order to life everything up" [quoted in Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p.284]

Thus through his prayers and meditations the Kabbalist is able to contribute to the slow process of "raising the sparks" that had fallen and restoring the cosmos to its original state of pre­creation perfection.  Thus man in the Lurianic cosmology aquires a a role similiar to that of the divine redeemer in other cosmologies.  This exaltation of the role of the individual kabbalist was certainly one reason for the appeal of the Luranic mythos in Jewish esoteric religious thought.

go to Kavanot and Yichudim
go to The Tikkun of trivial Things

Lurianic Cosmology - Creation and Redemption
Lurianic Cosmology

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page uploaded 12 November 1998
modified 18 Juen 1999