We are honored to have such a teacher, Baal HaSulam, who is the next incarnation of the soul of the great Ari. It is said about the Ari that he was Messiah ben Joseph, that is, he connected all the previous Kabbalah with the current state of the end of correction for us, with the generation of the era of the Messiah. Therefore, as soon as the Kabbalah of the Ari was revealed, Kabbalists abandoned all other Kabbalistic methods and adopted his methodology.
This was not due to the Ari’s methodology being more understandable or that he ascended in his attainment above others, but because of the connection of his soul with the end of correction. The soul of the Ari is directly connected with the end of correction, and therefore, through him and his teaching, we can also establish a connection with the state of the final correction and correctly realize ourselves, all together, and each of us individually.
Baal HaSulam writes in the “Introduction to Panim Meirot uMasbirot”:
‘’You have not a generation without such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, that Godly man, our Rav Isaac Luria, troubled and provided us the fullest measure. He did wondrously more than his predecessors, and if I had a tongue that praises, I would praise that day when his wisdom appeared almost as the day when the Torah was given to Israel.”
Indeed, we are unable to appreciate the height of the Ari, like a baby cannot appreciate the actions of adults. Everything we have today came from the Ari, and through his soul, we receive all the upper influence and correction. Baal HaSulam and Rabash come after the Ari in this chain.
The Ari never wrote a book himself. His books were written by his disciples. Some of the records were hidden in his grave and some were secretly kept in some kind of chest, and this is how they reached our time. Of course, the upper force and the higher purpose acted throughout. Otherwise, how is it possible that in some merchant like the Ari traveling between Egypt, Israel, and Damascus, engaging in trade, suddenly the upper aspiration awakened and forced him to settle in Israel and devote himself to Kabbalah.
All the information about the Ari is very inaccurate: there are two synagogues in Safed named after him and it is not clear to which he belonged. Everything is very vague as if it were not about a human being. There is no information about his family, wife, children, whether he had descendants. Nothing is clear. Of course, no one has freedom of choice and everything that happened to the Ari was dictated from above by the Creator.
Before the Ari, only individual, chosen people were engaged in Kabbalah. After him, however, Kabbalah came out of concealment. The life of the Ari in Safed was not easy because of the many opponents to Kabbalah. He began to reveal Kabbalah and organize groups. It helped him that Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, who had great authority in Safed, stood up for him and realized that the methodology of the Ari came from true, deep attainment.
The Ari is unique because he opened the wisdom of Kabbalah for us in a completely new way. He introduced such concepts as ten Sefirot, direct and reflected light, Malchut, the screen (Masach), and precisely defined the structure of the worlds and the Partzufim. All this is described in the book The Tree of Life written by Chaim Vital from the words of his teacher.
Chaim Vital studied with the Ari for only a year and a half until his teacher’s death. During this year and a half, he managed to gain knowledge that was enough for twenty books. It took another three generations to collect and print these books. It is obvious that some upper, nonhuman force was behind all this.
After the Ari, Kabbalah was revealed because he brought a special inner, spiritual force to the world. Besides, his teaching began to spread little by little. It doesn’t matter that he taught only in a small city, in Safed; this spiritual force, which he brought closer to our world through his soul, was felt all over the world.
Thanks to this, a Kabbalist such as Baal Shem Tov later appeared in Russia, who continued the work of the Ari and began to talk about the same concepts: worlds, Sefirot, Partzufim. In Hasidism, it is customary to call them the teachings of Baal Shem Tov, but in fact, the basis was laid by the teachings of the Ari.
Baal HaSulam wrote that he was the reincarnation of the soul of the Ari, that is, that he had a direct connection with him and was able to directly attain everything attained by the Ari. The next reincarnation of the soul is like inheriting the entire spiritual attainment of the father, passing it to the son.
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to Panim Meirot uMasbirot”: “There are not enough words to measure his holy work in our favor. The doors of attainment were locked and bolted, and he came and opened them for us.”
Restriction, screen, reflected light—the Ari describes not only how the light spreads from above downward, but the specific development of the desire, its stages of coarsening, the connection of this process with the force of the screen. Therefore, he belongs to the generation of correction and is considered to be Messiah ben Joseph, after which begins the correction of Malchut itself, the era of Messiah ben David.
Perhaps Kabbalists reached the same heights even before the Ari, but they did not receive a clear understanding in the form of a connection of lights, Kelim, and screens. Their attainment came as a revelation from above and not from within, from their own Kelim, which would allow them to build the world by their own attainment. Therefore, after the Ari and onward, everyone can study Kabbalah and gradually attain what he revealed.
Without an explanation of how the desire works with the screen and the reflected light, it is impossible to implement correction. Therefore, the Kabbalists before the Ari made only preparations for correction, and the Ari revealed the work from below upward and opened the method of correction—practical Kabbalah—to us.1
The day of a Kabbalist’s departure is the day of his elevation. Therefore, on this day, we want to be connected with the Ari, with his soul and his method, in a special way, even more than before, and commemorate the day of his memory. This, in fact, is a joyful day because his soul has fulfilled itself and rose to a higher degree. Therefore, Kabbalists never mourn the departed.2
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/4/19, Memorial Day of ARI
1 Minute 0:20