Question: In the 16th century, several decades after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, a center of spiritual development arose in Safed, in the Land of Israel. This period is called “Lurianic Kabbalah” in honor of the great Kabbalist, the Ari—Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi Luria, who continued to develop the method of Kabbalah.
What happened after the expulsion from Spain? What is the meaning of Lurianic Kabbalah, which lasted only a few years?
Answer: First of all, it is necessary to understand that the expulsion of the Jews did not happen because the King and Queen of Spain decided to get rid of them, but because it was time to force them to go further into Europe and some of them to return to the Land of Israel. Otherwise, they would have never left Spain, because it really was going through a golden age.
Therefore, the forced expulsion of Jews from Spain was the result of an influence from above. This expulsion served as a good example for them because it gave impetus to the development of trade, the development of ties between Jews of the diaspora in all countries of the world, and it led to the discovery of new lands by Columbus.
In principle, the expulsion from Spain could only be welcomed, although by doing this Spain did a disservice to itself. To this day, Spain has not recovered from it despite the fact that many centuries have passed since then. After all, Jews were its best representatives in science, culture, medicine, and economics at those times.
And when they left, Spain did not see good times, and it continues until today.
But Spaniards did not want this. When Jews came to the Queen to ask her to let them stay, she said that it wasn’t they who wished it, but the upper providence that put pressure on them and forcing the to expel the Jews. That is, the top intellectual strata of the Spanish government understood this perfectly well.
After the expulsion from Spain, part of the Jews returned to the Maghreb countries (North Africa, Egypt), and some of them even reached the Land of Israel and modern Syria and Lebanon.
And in Safed, a small town in northern Israel, a very strong group of people who engaged in Kabbalah was formed. Their leader was RAMAK (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero). He was a respected wise man of experience when the young Ari, who was 36 years old, appeared in Safed.
The Ari began to teach people and revealed to them the Kabbalah that practically no one understood. And only RAMAK understood and accepted the Kabbalah of the Ari although, in general, he did not fully understand it. But he began to attend classes, and this was a good example for others interested in Kabbalah who also began to study with the Ari.
So, the Ari organized a small group of people whom he taught. But this lasted only a year and a half because the Ari died very young.
His students started to analyze the notes made by them during their classes. Basically, this was done by his first student, Chaim Vital (Marchu). He continued the work of the Ari, having written down what he heard from his great teacher. These records, representing extensive Kabbalistic knowledge, make up 18-20 volumes.
From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel” 8/5/19