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The Ari


In the 16th century, the time of Middle Ages and barbarianism, a child was born in Jerusalem. Later in his life he received the name the Holy Ari. He absorbed the entire Kabbalistic knowledge since the First Man, processed it and phrased in such a way that all the generations following him, could receive their spiritual nourishment from his books.

The Ari was born in Jerusalem and later on moved to Egypt. His father passed away at an early age and he moved to live with his uncle. At 35 he came to Zephath (name of an ancient city that was home to many Kabbalists). He taught in a school he had arranged for his disciples for 18 months before his death. His first disciple was Chaim Vital, who was 28 at the time. Chaim Vital wrote everything he’d heard during that time, and what he’d written comprised the twenty volumes of the writings of the Ari. The Ari passed away at the age of thirty-six. He left his work to Chaim Vital and to no one else. He was the only one permitted to practice Kabbalah after the demise of the Ari, and publish the writings of his teacher.

What distinguishes the Ari is not only that his soul was a descendant of the souls of giant Kabbalists, but also that it came precisely at the time when the general level of the souls was such that demanded spiritual evolution.

The Ari received the book of Zohar in the 16th century. He taught with all the Kabbalistic sources that preceded him. Later on, these sources were published in one book, called The Tree of Life. It is a textbook that teaches about the way to the spiritual world, explaining how we can rise and attain perfection and eternity.

In each generation, the same souls that existed in previous generations come down to ours. They are clothed in new bodies, evolve, become more sensitive and more receptive to sublime and complex spiritual knowledge. Thus, people who lived thousands of years ago had the same souls as our own, but are more developed today, bringing technological and spiritual progress to our world.

Any progress in mankind comes as a result of the rising of the souls to a higher degree, after having gained experience in previous lives. Each soul that comes to our world begins its life with the experiences it had accumulated in the previous life. Hence, the soul goes through a process of accumulating knowledge, spiritual attainments and worldly sensations, leaving it with memories we call Reshimot (reminiscence). This way, it gathers and stores experiences in its memory.

Of all the souls that came down to our world in previous generations, only a few wished to attain the spiritual worlds. However, in our time, many of them already do. Today, a five – year - old child is much smarter than we were in the previous generation. It is much easier for him to absorb new information and live it, because he is born with the preparation for absorbing this information. Hence, each new piece of data is completely natural for him.

Kabbalah books tend to be revealed and concealed intermittently. They can be hidden for several generations, reappear, and then be lost again. It happens because this way humanity goes through certain corrections. Generally speaking, these books exist throughout the history of mankind, in order to correct humanity and assure its development. All these books will be known to everyone in the future. The Zohar and the books of the prophets state that in the end of days, the entire mankind will use these books as manuals, manuals for the attainment of the upper worlds. Using them, it will attain a happy, eternal and complete life.

Souls of great Kabbalists go through special cycles. They do not appear in our world in every generation, but like the books, only on special ones. The soul of the first man incarnated later on in Abraham the Patriarch, in Moses, and in Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochay, in the Ari and in our days, it came in the body of rabbi Yehuda Ashlag. Such a soul comes only on special times, when it is meant to influence and correct the entire human race.

The first phase of the evolution of the souls ended with the Ari. That was a phase of unconscious evolution by a simple beastly existence. Europe was then still in the middle ages, a time of barbarianism and savagery.

The appearance of the Ari brought with it a new era of human development. Souls that awaken a desire for spirituality and knowledge of the upper world began to descend and clothe bodies of our world. Hence, the time of the Middle Ages was over and the Renaissance began. It was a time of evolution, leading to the industrial revolution.

The Ari was given permission from above to renew the system that existed back in the days of the First Man, and change it from a system for unique, individual souls, to one that is suitable for the masses, to a large number of souls that evolved previously in this world, and were now ready for spiritual ascent.

The Ari wrote some twenty other books in addition to the Tree of Life. They are very difficult to understand, but today these books are the basis for the entire method of Kabbalah. In those books, he describes the laws of creation as a clear scientific system. That is the difference between his books and the Zohar. His books can serve as textbooks for study. The primary part of his books is divided in eight parts, called “Eight Gates.” Each gate describes a certain topic in Kabbalah in a clear scientific manner. He explains the laws of the upper world, how man influences these laws and the reincarnations.

All the books of the Ari are written in a new and completely different approach. He was guided by the evolution of the souls of his time. Many Kabbalists all over the world relied on his work, especially in Eastern Europe, The Ukraine, White Russia and Poland.

Many were drawn to Kabbalah. A mass movement that is not Kabbalistic, called Hasidut was established on the basis of it. Those are people who were drawn to connection with the upper spiritual world. They began to see that there is a sublime goal to their lives while living still in this world.

Studying the books of the Ari raises man beyond the level of our world. In the introductions to his books, the Ari stated that anyone who feels a desire for the spiritual world could study his books. Before the Ari, the ability to study Kabbalah was different than after him: a special soul of a Kabbalist would descend and as if by grace from above, the right book for the generation would appear. But since the time of the Ari, anyone with any kind of desire for spirituality can study his books of Kabbalah. It is enough for us to study the books of the Ari in order to exit to the upper worlds.

We have already stated that in every generation the same souls return, clothed in new bodies and retain their previous experiences. Therefore, each generation is wiser than its former, and aspires for something higher.

During the time of the Ari, the general evolution of the souls was such, that the souls had a desire for spiritual elevation, and not for a mere ordinary life on the level of this world. That was the reason for the beginning of the Renaissance and the industrial revolution.

In spirituality, this process is expressed by the appearance of the desire to find the origin of life, in search for the answer to the question: “What is the meaning of my life?” From the time of the Ari onward, that question begins to ripen in the souls that descend. It begins to concern people and make them search for the origin of life. The research ends in the study of the upper world, from which we come, though we cannot actually feel and understand it. The Ari took the entire wisdom of Kabbalah from the time of the First Man and created an entirely new system, suited for souls that wanted to rise by themselves.

Before the Ari, the souls that came to this world were divided into two kinds: the first - the beastly kind. Those consisted of exist, multiply, and preserve the human race in this world. The second kind consisted of souls of Kabbalists. Those were independently occupied with studying the spiritual world.

Since the time of the Ari, the souls that descend to our world can no longer settle for the beastly sustenance of this world. They have come to such an evolution, that a great many of them want to rise to the spiritual world.

Before the Ari, there was never a situation where a soul that was still immersed in beastly desires, suddenly began to want to rise and evolve spiritually, because only a few had such special souls that evolved to become Kabbalists. The evolution of the souls of people began in the time of the Ari.

Now the souls are acquiring desires for independent spiritual ascent. That is why they need a method to help them come out to the spiritual world. The Ari was the first to establish a method that allows anyone to come out to the spiritual world. Because of that, we regard him as the most important Kabbalist. In the introduction to his book, he writes that since the establishment of his method, any person wishing to study Kabbalah can do so. Thus, through this science, any willing person can attain the purpose of his creation regardless of his age, sex or nationality.

After the Ari many began to open up to Kabbalah. Hundreds of people-souls began to rise independently to spirituality in order to break through to the spiritual world. Indeed, the last phase of human development begins with the Ari. Starting from the 16th century, souls embark on a new spiritual birth, attaining complete exit to the spiritual world while still clothed in their corporeal bodies.

This prosperous time continued until approximately the 1920s’. Without the method of the Ari, the spiritual world would have been unreachable to such a large number of souls. The prosperity was especially noticeable in Eastern Europe, where many Kabbalists emerged, establishing many movements in Judaism.

The Ari had his own group of disciples, but before his death, he permitted the study to only one of them – Chaim Vital. Chaim Vital began his studies with the Ari at a very early age, and studied with him for only 18 months, until the death of the Ari. But the words of the Ari that Chaim Vital had written were enough to fill up entire cabinets.

Some of the texts were buried with the Ari, some were hidden in a box with relatives of the Ari, and Chaim Vital himself began to work on another part. Thus, gradually, the books began the printing process.

Shmuel Vital, Chaim Vital’s son, carried on the work of his father. His son, Chaim Vital’s grandson, continued after him, publishing the books of the Ari. The Ari’s grave was opened some three generations after his demise and the rest of his scriptures were dug out. They were composed into the Eight Gates, the primary texts of the Ari.

Thus we see, that even the followers of the Ari were not in possession of all his compositions. Even Chaim Vital did not have the sufficient knowledge to comprise a comprehensive and concise method, suitable for every soul that descends to this world, despite the tremendous efforts he made to preserve those texts for us.

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