We are honored to have had such a teacher Baal HaSulam who was the next incarnation of the soul of the great Ari. It is said that the Ari was Mashiach ben Yosef, that is, he connected the entire previous Kabbalah with the current state of the end of correction, with the generation of the era of the Messiah, for us.
Therefore, as soon as the Kabbalah of the Ari was revealed, the Kabbalists left all other streams of Kabbalah and accepted his method. This was not due to the fact that the method of the Ari was more understandable or that he rose above others in his comprehension, 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 teachings, we can also establish a connection with the final corrected state and correctly realize ourselves, all of us together and each one of us individually.
Baal HaSulam writes in the “Introduction to the Book Panim Meirot uMasbirot“: “You have not a generation without such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Indeed, that Godly man, Rav [teacher, great one] Isaac Luria [the ARI], 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 measure the height of the Ari just as an infant cannot measure the actions of adults. But everything that we have today came from the Ari, and through his soul, we receive the highest impact and corrections. Baal HaSulam and Rabash stand behind the Ari in this chain.
The Ari himself did not write a single book—they were all written by his students. Some of the records were hidden in his grave and some were secretly kept in a chest, and thus, they came down to our time. Of course, a higher power and a higher design were at work in all this.
Otherwise, how is it possible that a higher desire would suddenly awaken in a merchant such as the Ari who traveled between Egypt, Israel, and Damascus and engaged in trade, and force him to settle in Israel and devote himself to Kabbalah.
All information about the Ari is very inaccurate: there are two synagogues in Safed named after him, and it is not clear which one he belonged to. Everything is very vague as if we are not talking about a person. There is no information about his family, wife, children, whether he had any 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 a few select individuals were secretly engaging in Kabbalah. And after him, Kabbalah came out of hiding. The life of the Ari in Safed was not easy due to the many opponents of Kabbalah. After all, he began to reveal Kabbalah and to organize groups.
He was helped by the fact that Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero ,who had great authority in Safed, interceded for him, and he understood that the method of the Ari came from true, deep comprehension.
The Ari is unique in that he revealed the science of Kabbalah in a completely new way. It was he who introduced such concepts as the ten Sefirot, the direct and the reflected light, Malchut, the Masach, and precisely determined the structure of the worlds and Partzufim. All this is described in the book The Tree of Life written by Chaim Vital from the words of the teacher.
Chaim Vital studied with the Ari for only a year and a half before his teacher’s death. And during this year and a half he managed to obtain sufficient knowledge for twenty books. It took three more generations to collect and print these books. It is obvious that there is some kind of higher, superhuman power behind all this.
After the Ari, Kabbalah was revealed because he brought a special inner, spiritual strength to the world. And besides, his teachings began to slowly spread. It does not matter that he taught only in a small town in Safed. This spiritual power, which he brought closer to our world through his soul, began to be felt all over the world.
Thanks to this, a Kabbalist such as Baal Shem Tov appeared in Russia, who continued the work of the Ari and began to speak of the same concepts: worlds, Sefirot, Partzufim. It is customary in Hasidism to call this the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, but in essence, the foundation was laid by the teachings of the Ari.
Baal HaSulam wrote that he was the next incarnation of the soul of the Ari, that is, he had a direct connection with him and was able to directly comprehend everything that the Ari had attained. The next reincarnation of the soul is like the inheritance of the entire spiritual attainment of the father, which is passed on to the son.
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book 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, Masach, reflected light, the Ari describes not only how the light spreads from top to bottom but the specific development of the desire, its stages of coarsening, the connection of this process to the power of the screen. Therefore, he belongs to the generation of the correction and is considered the Mashiach (Messiah) Ben Yosef, after which the correction of Malchut herself begins, the era of Mashiach Ben David.
Maybe even before the Ari, Kabbalists reached the same heights, but they did not receive explicit understanding in the form of connection between the lights, the Kelim, and the screens. Their understanding came as a revelation from above and not from within their own Kelim, allowing them to build the world through their comprehension. Therefore, after the Ari and beyond, everyone can study Kabbalah and gradually comprehend what was revealed to him.
Without explaining how the desire works with the Masach and the reflected light, it is impossible to implement the correction. Therefore, the Kabbalists before the Ari made only preparation for correction, while the Ari revealed the work from the bottom up and revealed the method of correction, practical Kabbalah, to us.
The day of the departure of a Kabbalist is the day of his ascension. Therefore, on this day we want to be connected with the Ari, with his soul and his technique in a special way, even more than before, and we celebrate the day of his memory. In fact, this is a joyful day because his soul has realized itself and has risen to a higher level. Therefore, Kabbalists never grieve for the departed.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/4/19, “Memorial Day of the Ari”