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Hidden Meanings: Part IV: Isaac Luria
By Saul Gorenstein - December 25, 2008


Ancient Greek Manuscript: Paths
For many students of Kabbalah Isaac Luria is the greatest teacher that has ever emerged in this study of Jewish mysticism. He was known as "HaAri," or “Ari”, the Lion and throughout his life his study, writing and teaching of Kabbalah became the gold standard by which all study of Kabbalah would follow. Isaac Luria was born in Jerusalem in 1534 to German parents but after his father died Luria was brought up by his mother in the house of her brother, Mordecai Frances, a wealthy tax-farmer in Egypt.

In Egypt Luria studied Jewish law and rabbinic literature under Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra and Zimra's successor, Bezalel Ashkenazi. He continued his studies and then decided to go into semi-exile, visiting his family only on the Sabbath. He focused his studies on the Zohar and the works of earlier teachers and scholars of Kabbalah and developed a close relationship with Moses Cordovero who was also a Kabbalah adherent.

Luria’s original claim to fame was as a mystical poet and later he would start teaching Kabbalah in an academy. He wrote extensive commentaries on various parts of the Zohar and quickly became known as the preeminent Kabbalah teacher of his time. Isaac Luria seemed to have a unique gift to explore the innermost depths of the Zohar and it is said that he would meditate upon one verse of the Zohar for many months, until the hidden meaning was revealed to him. He made many discoveries about the divine plan during his exploration of the Torah and his examination of the Zohar.

One of the most dramatic was a system of evolution that went far beyond what Darwin would explain centuries later. He wrote “A time will come when men of science will, in their search for the missing link between man and animal, attempt to consider the monkey as that living form from which man evolved.
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