Luria, Isaac ben Solomon

Luria or Loria, Isaac ben Solomon

(lo͝or`ēə, lôr`–), 1534–72, Jewish kabbalist, surnamed Ashkenazi, called Ari [lion] by his followers, b. Jerusalem. In his 20s he spent seven years in seclusion, intensely studying the kabbalahkabbalah
or cabala
[Heb.,=reception], esoteric system of interpretation of the Scriptures based upon a tradition claimed to have been handed down orally from Abraham.
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. He settled (c.1570) at Safed, Palestine, where he became the teacher and leader of a large circle of students who formed an important school of mysticism. Combining messianism with reinterpreted kabbalistic doctrines from an earlier period, Luria sought to understand the nature and connection between earthly redemption and cosmic restoration. Man's deeds, linked to the secret processes of creation and thus an integral part of the cosmic drama, work toward man's redemption by aiding in the restoration of the cosmos to its original state. It is the Jewish people, through their adherence to God's halakahhalakah
or halacha
[Heb.,=law], in Judaism, the body of law regulating all aspects of life, including religious ritual, familial and personal status, civil relations, criminal law, and relations with non-Jews.
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, who will effect this restoration and thereby bring forth the Messiah as the consummate act of earthly redemption. Luria's philosophy has come down to us through the numerous works of his chief disciple, Hayim Vital.


See G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (3d rev. ed. 1954, repr. 1967).

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