Chapter 3: Corrections Through the Ages
The Evolution of the Correction Method
Permission to Engage
Alongside the growing predominance of Lurianic Kabbalah, a gradual emergence from secrecy began as more and more Kabbalists felt the time was ripe to disclose the method by which the world would achieve its final correction.
In his book, Light of the Sun, Kabbalist Rabbi Abraham Azulai wrote, “The prohibition from Above to refrain from open study of the wisdom of truth [Kabbalah] was for a limited period, until the end of 1490. Thereafter, it is considered the last generation, in which the prohibition was lifted and permission has been granted to engage in The Book of Zohar. And since the year 1540, it has been a great Mitzva (commandment, good deed, correction) for the masses to study, old and young. And since the Messiah is bound to come as a result, and for no other reason, it is inappropriate to be negligent.”[i]
Although the ARI permitted no one but Chaim Vital to study his teachings, the latter wrote profusely about the importance of studying Kabbalah. “Woe unto the people from the affront of the Torah. They do not engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah, which honors the Torah, for they prolong the exile and all the afflictions that are about to come to the world,” he wrote in his introduction to Tree of Life.[ii]
In the centuries that followed, numerous rabbis, Kabbalists, and scholars stated that the study of Kabbalah was vital for our redemption, and even for the survival of our nation. In the mid-18th century, The Vilna Gaon (GRA), wrote explicitly, “Redemption depends on the study of Kabbalah.”[iii]
In the early 19th century, Kabbalists began to proclaim that even children should study Kabbalah, explicitly revoking the prohibition to study before the age of forty. The Rabbi of Komarno wrote, “If my people heeded me in this generation, when heresy prevails, they would delve in the study of The Book of Zohar and the Tikkunim [Corrections], contemplating them with nine-year-old infants.”[iv]
In the early 1900s, Rav Isaac HaCohen Kook, who later became the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, openly called for the study of Kabbalah, as well as for the return of the Jews to the land of Israel. In Orot (Lights), he wrote, “The secrets of Torah bring the redemption; they bring Israel back to its land.”[v]
On numerous occasions, Rav Kook wrote quite blatantly that every Jew must study Kabbalah, though he rarely used the explicit term and usually referred to it by its known epithets, “the wisdom of truth,” “the wisdom of the hidden,” “the internality of the Torah,” or “the secrets of Torah.” In his words, “Before us is an obligation to expand and establish the engagement in the inner side of the Torah, in all its spiritual issues, which, in its broader sense, includes the broad wisdom of Israel, whose apex is the knowledge of God in truth, according to the depth of the secrets of Torah. These days, it requires elucidation, scrutiny, and explanation, to make it ever clearer and ever more expansive among our entire nation.”[vi]
[i] Abraham Ben Mordechai Azulai, Introduction to the book, Ohr HaChama (Light of the Sun), 81.
[ii] Rav Chaim Vital, The Writings of the Ari, Tree of Life, Part One, “Rav Chaim Vital’s Introduction,” 11-12
[iii] The Vilna Gaon (GRA), Even Shlemah (A Perfect and Just Weight), Chapter 11, Item 3
[iv] Rav Yitzhak Yehuda Yehiel of Komarno, Notzer Hesed [Keeping Mercy], Chapter 4, Teaching 20
[v] Rav Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (the Raiah), Orot [Lights], 95.
[vi] Rav Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (the Raiah), Otzrot HaRaiah [Treasures of the Raiah], 2, 317