Ari = Lion
"Kabbalist in Tzfat who founded a new school of Kabbalah/Mysticism which exerted a profound influence on the whole Jewish World and formed the theoretical basis for much of last Hasidic thought. Reb Luria was bron in Jerusalem, lived for a time in Cairo , and returned to the Land of Israel, settling in TZfat about 1569. He was a master talmudic scholar at the age of 8 and a highly original mystic who lived an ascetic life and imparted his teachings to a very small circle of disciples.
The Ari's ideas are exceedinly complex and difficult. On the one hand, his mystic experiences include direct vision and communications with souls from "other worlds" and on the other hand his theological speculations reveal an extraordinary capacity for imaginitaive symbolic thinking. According to the Ari, the creation of the universe became possible by a preceeding act of Tzimtzum - a voluntary "contraction" or withdrawal of God from "Himself into HImself", thereby creating the possibility of existence outside the Devine, including that of evil. The incipient creation was thrown into confusion by the catastrophe of the "breaking of the vessels" (shevirat ha-kelim) whereby the primordial light of creation spilled over, as it were, and its sparks fell into lower and even demonic spheres of being. The purpose of history is the healing of this breach in the Devine and cosmic order; hence the concept of Tikkun ("restoration"), whereby all the fallen sparks and souls are returned to their proper place, is of paramount importance in the Lurianic System. The achievement of cosmic Tikkum is identified with the messianic connsumation of history. THe doctrine of tikkun is associated with that of Gilgul (transmigration of sould/re-incarnation). There is a great emphasis of every human act, since bu his act, man fulfills his redemptive role.
In Addition to the elaboration of his doctrines The Ari composed of number of hymns, some of which have been included in the prayer books influenced by the Hasidic tradition." - Quoted from The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion
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