The Ari left us his writings through his main student Rabbi Haim Vital. The Ari created and organized The Wisdom of Kabbalah for the modern era. He based it on all the previous ancient Kabbalistic texts, specifically The Zohar and showed how all previous teachings are parts of one inclusive highly organized cosmology. Rav Ashlag was the greatest Kabbalist of the 20th Century.
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Rav Ashlag is responsible for the renaissance of Kabbalah in our modern time. A student and teacher of The Hasidic Movement, Rav Ashlag managed to create a new way of teaching that is a synthesis of the intellect of Lurianic Kabbalah with the heart of the Hasidic way. Rav Ashlag was a great believer of Spiritual Socialism based on the humanistic principles of Kabbalah as a way to heal the miseries of humanity. Live Kabbalah website has been established by students who feel the need to preserve the original teachings and to especially focus on the original vision of Rav Ashlag to combine the focus of the study of Kabbalah with the creation of spiritual communities..
These communities will be centered on building a safe, loving, supporting environment that will promote, enhance and support the journey of the individual towards cleaving to God, which is the only purpose of The Creation. Shaul Youdkevitch is an internationally renowned and revered spiritual teacher. Born and raised in Israel, Shaul always had a strong interest in science. While in college working towards a degree in biology, he met a Kabbalist and began to learn about the spiritual laws of the universe. He soon realized that there was a deep connection with these teachings and the laws of science.
Shaul became fascinated by the comparison and set off to learn more and more about how the universe operates both physically and spiritually. After several years of studying Kabbalah, Shaul was ordained as a Rabbi and began his career as a popular and sought after teacher. He also has created a systematic way of teaching the esoteric principles of Kabbalah, so that it is obtainable and understandable to everyone.
Kabbalah teachers all around the world currently use this educational model. Through the study of Ancient Kabbalistic teachings, Shaul came to understand the Universal Truth that love of the creator is revealed when mankind displays respect to other human beings above and beyond their ideology, race, religion, language or appearance. His mission is to empower individuals and communities to create a world of peace, joy and harmony for humanity.
That is why he has taught and continues to teach everyone the principles of Kabbalah: the old, the young, people of all faiths and all nations. Like Kabbalist Rabbi Ashlag taught in the early 20th century, he believes that the only way a person can function at his best and achieve a true and lasting connection to the Creator is to surround his or herself with loving, caring and supportive people. He is working with individuals and communities all over the world to teach this very premise through Kabbalistic principles.
In Kabbalah, there is a direct correspondence between the Hebrew name of any spiritual or physical phenomenon and its manifestations in the mundane world. The Hebrew name represents the unique essence of the object.
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This reflects the belief that the universe is created through the metaphorical speech of God, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis. Kabbalah expounds on the names of the sefirot and their nuances, including their gematria numerical values , in order to reach an understanding of these emanations of God's essence. In the 16th-century rational synthesis of Moses ben Jacob Cordovero Cordoveran Kabbalah , the first complete systemisation of Kabbalah, the sefirot are listed from highest to lowest: . In the subsequent 16th-century transcendent Kabbalistic scheme of Isaac Luria, the sefirot are usually listed by omitting Keter and including Da'at the conscious manifestation of the superconscious Keter.
This difference of opinion reflects an earlier Medieval debate regarding whether Keter is the first sefirah, or the Ohr Ein Sof Infinite light itself. Luria includes Keter in the list only in relation to the inner light of the sefirot. In his usual list of the sefirot as formed attributes vessels , Keter is considered too lofty to include:  In this scheme, the sefirot are depicted as lying across three parallel vertical axes.
As Aryeh Kaplan explains in his translation and commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah , "Although the Sefer Yetzirah does not name the Ten Sefirot, their names are well known from the classical Kabbalah.
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The names of the Sefirot are all derived from scripture. According to those sources, the Sefirot are often given diverse names, but the chiefly used terms are:. The first development that enabled the sefirot to unite in cooperation was the interinclusion within each of them of a further subset of the 10 sefirot, bringing them to a total of one hundred inter-included sefirot.
In Kabbalistic interpretation, the seven emotive sefirot similarly inter-include to form 49 seven times seven emotional states. So, for example, Chesed contains Chesed within Chesed loving-kindness within loving-kindness , Gevurah within Chesed might within loving-kindness etc. Likewise, there is Chesed within Gevurah loving-kindness within might, typified by a restriction performed out of love, like a father punishing a child , Gevurah within Gevurah might within might , etc.
This is the Kabbalistic interpretation of the mitzvah Jewish observance of Counting of the Omer between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot. Shavuot commemorates the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. During this 49 day period Kabbalah teaches the benefit of focusing on the aspect of the 49 inter-included sefirot that is related to each particular day of the Omer. On each day of the Omer, a person would examine each of their spiritual qualities, as a rectification process of Teshuva Return to God , as preparation for reliving the acceptance of the Torah on Shavuot. Two alternative spiritual arrangements for describing the sefirot are given, metaphorically described as "Circles" and "Upright".
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Their origins come from Medieval Kabbalah and the Zohar. In later, 16th-century Lurianic Kabbalah , they become systemised as two successive stages in the evolution of the sefirot, during the primordial cosmic evolution of Creation. This evolution is central to the metaphysical process of tikkun fixing in the doctrines of Isaac Luria.
One diagrammatic representation depicts the sefirot metaphorically as successively smaller concentric circles, radiating inwards from the surrounding Divine Omnipresence. The Four Worlds of the seder hishtalshelus "Chain of Progression" , or with the addition of the highest Fifth World Adam Kadmon , can be depicted in this diagram, starting with the highest and proceeding towards the centre of the circle to our lowest, physical realm.
In each World the 10 sefirot radiate, as 10 successive steps in the downward chain of flow towards the next, lower realm. This depiction shows the successive nature of each of the 10 sefirot, as a downward chain, each more removed from Divine consciousness. The surrounding space in the diagram is the Infinite Divine reality Ein Sof. The outermost circle in the teachings of Lurianic kabbalah is the "space" made by the Tzimtzum in which Creation unfolds.
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Each successive World is progressively further removed from Divine revelation, a metaphorically smaller, more constricted circle. Emanation in each World proceeds down the 10 sefirot, with the last sefirah Malchut-Actualisation of the Divine plan of one World becoming, and being shared as, the first sefirah Keter-The Divine Will of the next, lower realm. The vertical line into the centre of the circle represents the path of downward emanation and constriction, from the initial first Ohr light of the "Kav" Ray in Lurianic doctrine.
The most important and well known scheme of depicting the sefirot arranges them as a tree with 3 columns. The Right column represents the spiritual force of expansion. The Left represents its opposite, restriction. The Middle column is the balance and synthesis between these opposing tendencies.
The connecting lines in the diagram show the specific connections of spiritual flow between the sefirot, the "22 Connecting Paths", and correspond to the spiritual channels of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Kabbalah sees the Hebrew letters as channels of spiritual life force. In Kabbalistic theology, these letters remain the immanent spiritual forces that constantly recreate all existence. The paths divide into 3 Categories, shown in this diagram by their different colours, corresponding to the 3 types of letter.
An alternate depiction of the sefirot is in the form of a man. The first sefira represents the head, the next three represent the cavities of the brain, the fourth and fifth sefirot represent the arms, the sixth sefira is the torso, the seventh and eighth are the legs, the ninth is the sexual organ, and the tenth is the all-embracing totality of this image.
This man is also divided into two, with the right column being made up of the male sefirot and the left, the female sefirot. Kabbalah, the central system in Jewish mysticism, uses subtle anthropomorphic analogies and metaphors to describe God in Judaism , both the God-world relationship, and the inner nature of the Divine. These include the metaphor of the soul-body relationship, the functions of human soul-powers, the configuration of human bodily form, and female-male influences in the Divine.
Kabbalists repeatedly warn and stress the need to divorce their notions from any corporality, dualism, plurality, or spatial and temporal connotations. As "the Torah speaks in the language of Man",  the empirical terms are necessarily imposed upon human experience in this world. Once the analogy is described, its limitations are then related to, stripping the kernel of its husk, to arrive at a truer conception. Nonetheless, Kabbalists carefully chose their terminology to denote subtle connotations and profound relationships in the Divine spiritual influences.
More accurately, as they see the emanation of the Material world from the Spiritual realms, the analogous anthropomorphisms and material metaphors themselves derive through cause and effect from their precise root analogies on High. Describing the material world Below in general, and humans in particular, as created in the "image" of the world Above is not restricted in Rabbinic Judaism to Kabbalah, but abounds more widely in Biblical , Midrashic , Talmudic and philosophical literature.
Classical "proof texts" on which it bases its approach include, "From my flesh I envisage God",  and the Rabbinic analogy " As the soul permeates the whole body Nonetheless, it too has its limitations, needs qualification, and breaks down if taken as a literal, corporeal comparison. Its limitations include the effect of the body on the soul, while the World effects no change in God; and the distinct, separate origins of the soul and the body, while in relation to God's Omnipresence, especially in its acosmic Hasidic development, all Creation is nullified in its source.
The Yosher -Upright configuration of the sefirot arranges the 10 sefirot into a Partzuf interrelationship, where each sefirah relates and mediates the influence of the others. This metaphor for Divine interrelationships on High is arranged in the schematic relationship of a human soul, because alone amongst all Creation, Adam -Man is held to encapsulate all harmonized forces, while animals and angels embody only singular instinctive drives.
The significance of this, as well as the full meaning of the Partzufim reconfiguration of the sefirot, emerges only in 16th century Lurianic Kabbalah, where the Yosher -Upright arrangement, the Partzufim and the souls of Israel represent the secondary World of Tikun-Rectification, while angels, animals and the root origins above of the Nations of the World embody the primordial World of Tohu-Chaos. Lurianic Kabbalah applies the verse, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them" to this reconfigured Tikun-Yosher arrangement.
In the Yosher scheme, Divine principles are described through the soul faculties of Man, with Binah-Understanding and Malkuth-Kingship-Shechinah-Indwelling Divine Presence, encapsulating the Divine Feminine in Creation, the principle of receiving, nurturing and pregnant internalization.
Separation and interruption of the Shefa-Flow of Divine vitality into this World is caused by human sin. Unification and revelation is opened by human benevolence, so that in Kabbalah human encapsulates the whole spiritual cosmos and upholds the Heavens. The 16th century Sefad Kabbalistic Renaissance ennacted the prayer before performing Mitzvot Jewish observances, uniting Tiferet-Beauty, central principle in the male emotions Zeir Anpin with Malkuth-Kingship, the feminine Shechinah:. The four Hebrew letters of God's essential Divine name known as the Tetragrammaton correspond to the ten sefirot.
The point-like nature of the yud corresponds to the sefirah of chochmah, which is likened to the initial spark, or point of potential through which a new insight enters reality. The cusp, or tip of the yud reaches upwards and alludes to the super-conscious root of chochmah, which resides in Keter. This corresponds to the sefirah of Binah, which expands and develops the seminal point of wisdom chochmah into a detailed idea.
The gematria of the letter vav is 6, corresponding to the six emotive sefirot from loving-kindness to foundation. Despite the particular geometric depiction of the Yosher scheme, through each soul faculty in the body, physical human organs also reflect the supernal Divine forces on High, as the scheme of Yosher underscores the inter-relationship of the sefirot as a unit or body. In this context, the physical upright standing of humans contrasts with the horizontal forms of animals.
The correspondence of the sefirot with the physical organs of a human:. Isaac Luria reinterpreted and recast the whole scheme of Kabbalah in the 16th century, essentially making the second of two different versions of the Kabbalah: the Medieval the initial, direct understandings of the Zohar, later synthesised by Moshe Cordovero and the Lurianic.
However, he understood his new doctrine as no more than a new revelation-teaching of the true meaning of the Zohar. Lurianic Kabbalah became the dominant Kabbalistic system, displacing Cordovero's, and afterwards the Zohar was read in its light. Lurianic Kabbalists sought to integrate this with the Cordoverian scheme, seeing both as true, but describing different aspects "Worlds" of the Divine process.
Medieval Kabbalah depicts a linear descending hierarchy of Divine vitality, the sefirot emerging from the Ein Sof to enact Creation. Lurianic Kabbalah describes enclothing processes of exile and redemption in the Divine flow, where higher levels descend into lower states, as souls to spiritual bodies. The first emanation in Creation leads to spiritual shattering of Divinity in a definitive "catastrophe" Shevirat HaKeilim - "The Shattering of the Vessels" , and the exile of its "sparks" into the descending created realms.
Cordovero had reconciled previous opinions of the sefirot by describing each as Divine Ohrot "lights" invested in 10 spiritual Keilim "vessels" , adapted by Luria to his scheme. In Lurianic Kabbalah, the first vessels of the sefirot shatter due to the sublime intensity of the light. Because each of the sefirot act as independent forces, Isaac Luria's attribution of the Iggulim independent "Circles" arrangement of the sefirot without cooperation, their immature vessels are weak. From the destruction of this primordial realm, the World of Tohu "Chaos" , is built the subsequent World of Tikun "Rectification" , characterized by lower lights and stronger vessels.
The sublime lights of Tohu withdraw into the Ein Sof, while their sefirot vessels shatter down Creation. Sparks of the original high lights remain attached in exile to the descending fragments, and the Messianic task is the redemption of all the holy sparks of Tohu. In the World of Tikun in contrast, the sefirot vessels are mature, stronger and act together in harmony.
This systemised the classic concept of the Partzufim as the secondary, evolved arrangements of the sefirot in Creation. And God said let there be Light", the ability of the harmonised sefirot of Tikun to reveal Divinity and enact stable Creation. The Lurianic doctrine of the shattering of the emotional sefirot vessels describes the esoteric meaning of Genesis and I Chronicles Edom is described in Genesis as the descendants of Esau. In the Kabbalistic scheme, this is identified with unrectified Gevurah - Severity, the source of the vessels of the World of Tohu - Chaos.
The eight kings listed who reigned in Edom before any king of Israel, embodied the eight sefirot of Daat to Malchut in the World of Tohu , the vessels that shattered. Of each it says they lived and died, death connoting the soul-light of the sefirot ascending back to its source, while the body-vessel descends-shatters. Attached to the broken vessels are the holy residues of the former light as Nitzot - "Sparks" of holiness, sustaining Creation by the Divine flow of Will.
The sparks are the creative force of the sefirot down the Four Worlds. The unabsorbed residue of the broken vessels in our physical, lowest World Assiah becomes the realm of Kelipot impurity. Genesis , " And the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. The four realms of our created existence are together called the World of Tikkun "Fixing". In Tikkun, the sefirot evolve into new arrangements, where they can unite. The different realms Tikkun are characterized by lower lights and stronger vessels. Subsequent to the interinclusion of the 10 sefirot within each other, in Lurianic Kabbalah they then develop into " partzufim " "personas".
In the Zohar, Shimon bar Yochai expounds upon the spiritual roles of the partzufim, by talking about them as independent spiritual manifestations. Lurianic Kabbalah focused on the role of the Parsufim as the fully evolved stage of the primordial evolution of the sefirot, in the beginning of Creation. Instead of each of the 10 sefirot merely including a full subset of 10 sefirot as latent potential forces, the first stage of their evolution, in the Parsufim the sefirot become fully autonomous and interrelated.
The name of each partzuf denotes that the sefirah from which it derived, has now become an independent scheme of 10 fully functioning sefirot in the "Upright" Yosher form of "Man". This reconfiguration is essential in Lurianic Kabbalah to enable the opposing spiritual forces of the sefirot to work together in harmony. Each Parsuf now operates independently, and unites with the other Parsufim.
So, for example, "The Long Visage" is said to descend, and become enclothed within the lower Parsufim. The sefirot now harmonise, to enable the Lurianic scheme of Tikkun Rectification to begin. The names of the fundamental partzufim and their English translations:. As all levels of Creation are constructed around the 10 sefirot, their names in Kabbalah describe the particular role each plays in forming reality.
These are the external dimensions of the sefirot, describing their functional roles in channelling the Divine, creative Ohr Light to all levels. As the sefirot are viewed to comprise both metaphorical "lights" and " vessels ", their structural role describes the particular identity each sefirah possesses from its characteristic vessel.
Underlying this functional structure of the sefirot, each one possesses a hidden, inner spiritual motivation that inspires its activity. This forms the particular characteristic of inner light within each sefirah. Understanding the sefirot throughout Jewish mysticism is achieved by their correspondence to the human soul.
This applies to the outer, Kabbalistic structure of the sefirot. It applies even more to their inner dimensions, which correspond to inner psychological qualities in human perception. Identifying the essential spiritual properties of the soul gives the best insight into their Divine source, and in the process reveals the spiritual beauty of the soul.
Hasidism sought the internalisation of the abstract ideas of Kabbalah, both outwardly in joyful sincerity of dveikus in daily life, acts of loving-kindness and prayer; and inwardly in its profound new articulation of Jewish mystical thought, by relating it to the inner life of man. Hasidut looks at the lights that fill these vessels, how the structures reveal the Divine essence, and how this inwardness can be perceived.
This difference can be seen in the names of these two stages of Jewish mysticism.
The names of the sefirot come from Kabbalah, and describe the Divine effect that each has upon Creation, but not their inner qualities. Hasidic thought uses new descriptive terms for the inner dimensions of the sefirot:  .
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