This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
LAWRENCEFINE Amongstthe most importantroles which Isaac Luria(1534-1572), the Safed, played in the lives of his preeminentkabbalistof sixteenth-century discipleswas that of physicianof the soul. Beforethey couldpracticerituals which wereintendedto enablethem to bind theirsouls to the divinerealm, and to "repair"that realm in accordancewith the teachingsof Lurianic mythology, his discipleshad first to mend their ownsouls, to cleanse and No individual whoseown soul had failedto purifythemof all imperfection.' achievea certainlevel of perfectioncould hope to engagesuccessfully in the
1. The major exposition of Lurianic mythology is by I. Tishby, Torat ha-Ra ve-ha-Kelippah be-Kabbalatha-Ari (Jerusalem, 1960). See also idem, "Gnostic Doctrines in Sixteenth Century Jewish Mysticism," Journal of Jewish Studies 6 (1955); G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York, 1941), lecture 7; idem, Sabbatai Sevi (Princton, 1973), pt. 1. For a general introduction to the religious life of Safed in the sixteenth century, see L. Fine, Safed Spirituality (New York, 1984).
andelaborate intricate rituals-suchas the Yibudim2-which contemplative
Luria devised. A person had to undergo a period during which he cultivated certain spiritual and moral traits and atoned for whatever sins he might have
committed.Luria,in fact, providedhis followerswith highlydetailedrituals of atonementby whichthey wereto mendtheirsouls. Thesepenitentialacts were known as tikkuneiavonot("amendsof sin") whose purpose, in the wordsof IHayyim Vital'sson Shmuel,was to "mendhis soul" and "cleanse him from the filth of the diseaseof his sins."3 IHayyimVital (1542-1620),
Luria's chief disciple, himself introduces the tikkunei avonot with a dis-
cussion of the relationshipbetween one's soul and sin.4 The following passage provides a lucid account of the Lurianictheory of sin and the of genuine repentance: effectiveness
Man is createdfrom matterand from form, which consists of soul [nefesh], and super-soul the divineportionfromabove,as it is spirit[ruah], [neshamah], said: "and [God]breathedinto his nostrilsthe breath[nishmat] of life" [Gen. 2:7]. And his body is dark matterfrom the side of the "shell,"luring and man from [achieving] of his soul [inorder]to cut it [i.e., preventing perfection his soul] off from the Tree of Life .... and so "thereis not a righteousman upon the earth that doeth good and sinnethnot" [Eccles.7:20].It is known that sin is a blemish,stain,and rustin the soul, andthat it is the sicknessof the in filth and stain,it is unableto perceive and puresoul. Whenit [is immersed] achieve the true perfection,which is [attainmentof] the mysteriesof the Torah.... And the transgression becomesa barrierseparating the soul from her Creator,preventingher from perceivingand comprehending holy and it is is as said: "The law the Lord of matters, perfect,restoring pure supernal the soul" [Ps. 19:8].... When the soul is pure and unblemished, then the supernalholy matters take shapein her, and when she dwellsin rust and stain everything becomes bittersweet as good]. [Thisis] similarto the sick personwho, [i.e.,evil appears when he is ill, abhorsthe good things and loves things which aggravatehis
see L. Fine, "The Contemplative Practice of 2. For a detailed study of the Yihzudim, Yihudimin Lurianic Kabbalah," in Jewish Spirituality, ed. A. Green, vol. 2 (Crossroad, forthcoming). 3. The tikkunei avonot are discussed in Sha'ar Ruaz ha-Kodesh of the Shemonah She'arim, pp. 40-64 (see below, n. 4). They are studied in the above-mentioned article. 4. Hayyim Vital was responsible for the most detailed versions of Lurianic teachings, among which the Shemonah She'arim ("Eight Gates") is the most important. All references to the Shemonah She'arim are to the Yehudah Ashlag edition (Tel Aviv, 1962).
usedto recognize the sin.And like the gave him penitentialacts to straighten who doctor each for sick to cure expert prescribes personthe propermedicine this illness.ashes. Sha'ar Ruah ha-Kodesh of the Shemonah She'arim. tell him wherehe had incurreda blemish.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 81 illness. 39 (hereafter cited as SRH).including was. 6. a variation on the medieval art known as metoposcopy. [Thisis] in orderto be able to attain and comprehend supernalmatters.the most important appears to have been his capacity to discern and interpret the meaning of Hebrew letters visible upon an individual's forehead.So. is the diagnostician and healer of diseased souls! Luria's powers stem from the spirit of prophecy which he possessed. and the stains of sin. Among the several diagnostic techniques which Luria had at his disposal.4:14].5 Only the weapons of ascetic piety are potent enough to cleanse the soul of the filth that clings to it. as it is written:"O Jerusalem. purifications stripes. sackcloth. 40.and prescribe for him the penitential act neededfor this transgression in orderto cleansehis soul. p. he carefully diagnosed the specific maladies which his "patient" had and prescribed the appropriate cure. to removethe sickness in [the form of] mortification and fasts. But Luria only revealed his knowledge to those disciples who were completely pure and worthy.that thou mayestbe saved" [Jer. too. p. The doctor.which are the mysteriesof the world.gives him spices.6 Isaac Luria did what any good physician would do. proclaims Vital. Metoposcopy was one of the wide array of divinatory or mantic arts practiced especially in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.mustreceivethe before.a blemish-until he out all he did crookedly. the sicksoul. by whichhis naturewill returnto whatit originally fromher. in orderto restorehis health.so too [IsaacLuria]. SRH. To this end he prescribed for each of his students personalized penitential deeds to meet their specific needs. so that he could receivethe divine light. He would not revealany of the mysteriesof this holy knowledgeto one in whose soul he perceived. accordingto HayyimVital and others. . meriting him divine light and esoteric knowledge with which to teach his followers. Luria himself.with the aid of the Holy Spirit. along with 5. andhis healthas gall. bitternessof medicineand "return" from filth and ritual and immersions.mayhe restin peace. wash thy heart from wickedness.
among early inquire andsecret of theTorah. Histoire de la philosophie occulte (Paris.He couldalsorecognize that aswellas at [recognizing] thelights of physiognomy. more broadly.and was typicallyassociated with astrologicalnotions. at]thescience adept at recogareuponthe skinandbodyof an individual. in this case. Thorndike. abilitieswith In the various lists detailingIsaac Luria'sextraordinary which our sources provide us. S. of them whatever he the as well as later He could sages. for predictingone's future. Supernaturalismand Religion (New York. especially vols. [Hewasalsoskilled 7. Magic. general whichI witnessed withmy owneyes:He knewhowto makea future things as ordeceased from soulappear before him.no less in detail. Concerning the development of the physiognomic arts in Judaism. mayhismemory and[was theletters on theforehead andteachhim. pp. 11-12 below.but it flourished Middle Ages and most especiallyin the Renaissance.However. K. pp.and in many cases. it is impossible them[even] for oneto relate Concerning andtrue thesearethe wondrous terms.metoposcopywas primarilyconcernedwith the significance of lines. wellasthesoulof a living person. A History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York.' The purposeof the presentstudyis to examinethe theoryandpracticeof metoposcopy according to Lurianic teachings. For treatments of non-Jewish approaches to metoposcopy.82 LAWRENCE FINE similar arts such as chiromancy(palmistry)and physiognomy(form and shape of various other physical features. Like chiromancy. would alsoappear Theprophet Elijah.As with these other "sciences.As Jewishsourcesthemselvesattest. and. 1948). 201-203."metoposcopywas employedfor purposesof judging an individual'scharacterand personality. 1923-58). wished of thefuture concerning knowledge mysteries to him be a blessing. see L. 6-8. Alexandrian.In the sixteenthand seventeenthcenturiesthe publicationof metoposcopicworks proliferated. . one of the standarditems is his skill at metoposcopy. Seligman. see nn. 256-261. in his attainments. a variationof in the this art was knownat least as earlyas late antiquity. on the forehead. 1983).particularlyfacial features). to this type of knowledge explorethe waysin which Luria'sdisciplesregarded on their master'spart.
Scholem. 1929). [He understood] the shall stone "For cry out of the wall [andthe beamout of the timber says: shall answerit]" [Hab. For broader discussions of the relationship between language and Kabbalah." These thirty-two paths comprise "ten sefirot beli mah. this linguistically founded world was understood as an 8. pp. 248-251. The bulk of the book's speculative efforts concern the function and role of these letters in the process of cosmogony. p.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 83 nizing]the lights in the hair. 1974). 156. pp. Luria's use of the Sefer Yepirahin this connection is explicitly acknowledged. 15-16. God brought all of creation into existence "by means of thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom. Kabbalah (New York. pp. the Diogenes article mentioned above." combinations of the letters into sets of two in which every letter of the alphabet is joined to every other. in part.uf) has to do with a set of kabbalistic beliefs concerning (.hokhmat the relationship between language and creation as a whole. 1967). pp. idem. idem. Benayahu (Jerusalem. Benayahu. SRH. M. Those who hear of them will not believe them when told. Eleh Toledot Yighak. [He knew] the languageof the burningcandle and the flaming coal. p. Weinstock and N. All existence is invested with these different combinations of letters and is nourished by their power.as Scripture and plants. see G. 9-99. 32-86. 1972). Other versions of this list are found in Sefer ha-Gilgulim(Przemysl. . as is well known. p. See as well the studies by I. Aloni in Temirin. probably written sometime between the third and sixth centuries. "The Name of God and the Linguistic Theory of the Kabbalah. 26. These beliefs go back. all the plantsand the genuineremedies His knowledgewas expertconcerning Therearemanyothersuchthingswhichcannotevenbe [whichtheyprovided]. 23-30. idem. Everything that exists came into being through combinations of the alphabet's letters. Scholem. as well as its continuation in Diogenes 80 (1972): 164-194. 19. and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Sefer Toledot ha-Ari.and the languageof trees even the speechof inanimatethings.and to conversewith them. Ursprungund Anfdnge der Kabbala (Berlin. For discussion of the Sefer Yegirah." Diogenes 79 (1972): 59-80. particularly by means of two hundred and thirty-one "gates. pp. pp. On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism (New York. the Sefer Yetirah. 2:11]. he was able to see the angels who announceall the proclamations[fromon high]. 6-7. 1965). to the first systematic attempt at speculative thought in Hebrew. vol. 9. related." the ten fundamental numbers. the chirpingof birds. When. I have recordedthat which my eyes have seen in all truth. SRH. 1 (Jerusalem.8 The theoretical basis for the recognition of letters upon the forehead ha-par.irah. 20-29.see G. centuries later. 1962). 1875).' According to the opening chapter of this brief and highly enigmatic book. pp. medieval kabbalists appropriated the ideas of the Sefer Ye. Shivhei ha-Ari (Bardejov. ed.
but forms assumedby the divine itself. According to the anthropological views of the Kabbalah. nefesh.Accordingto this concepexpressionof divineself-disclosure tion."each of which signifiesa particular divine power or energy. and 0 Eachis constructed. and those of the neshamah dimensionsof soul clothe one another.In this symbolismthe Torahis understoodto comprisea vast of concentration networkof "names. of all creationmoreevident constitution Nowhereis the divine/linguistic than in the case of humanbeingsthemselves. the two more elevated levels. in ascending hierarchicalorder.but it can be imaginedas well as the everunfoldingwordof God which expressesitself in a virtuallyinfinite variety of combinationsand gradations. As such these "names" possess a plenitude of meaningnot exhaustedby conventionalhuman language. and that these letters can appear on the face.the constituting lights/lettersof the soul remain covered and concealed by the skin. The nefesh is automatically present and active in every individual. Such activity aids in the cultivation of the higher powers of cognition and results in the fullest maturation of the soul. however. and are considered to represent still higher stages of spiritual attainment. 16. the Hebrewlettersand theircombinationsare not merelyinstruments by which the Creatorwroughtcreation. ruab. those of the ruabare are largest of all.The character with the differentlevels of the soul's tripartite what differentin accordance division. 73a. and qualityof each set of lettersare someHebrewalphabet. are latent. so to speak. . These manifest themselves only in the case of persons who are spiritually advanced and who have strived to develop themselves through religious activity. These are hayyah and yehidah. Later kabbalists-including the Lurianists-added two other levels of soul. graduallypurifies enabling ing parts soul. 10. See. In the case of a wickedindividual. the twenty-two lettersof the alphabetarepresentin eachof the threeaspects of the human soul. the power and light of the letterswithineach part to come to the surface. present only in the most select figures. This idea is already found in the Zohar. as it were. These three mediumin size.Accordingto HIayyim Vital. not only can the revelationof deity be describedin termsof the ten sefirot. p. But when a personperfectshimselfby practicing and studythe commandments the various of thus the he Torah. the soul is considered to have three aspects.84 LAWRENCE FINE or emanation. in the context of its discussion of physiognomic matters. where we learn that the mystery of the twenty-two letters is engraved within the ruah of an individual. That is. These two aspects of soul do not figure in the Lurianic discussion of metoposcopy.on the basisof the lettersof the neshamah. the most familiar and typical symbolic system of the kabbalists. The letterspresentin the nefeshare small. for example. SRH. Zohar 2. with the body's skin the outercoveringof all.
see Discoveries in the Judean Desert." that is. pp. 15-16.which speaks of twelve letters that are visible on the forehead. although it does not specify which letters these are. can be examined to ascertain an individual's moral and spiritual status. The primary Lurianic account of metoposcopy is found in SRH. were used to determine a person's fitness for membership in the "House of Light. eyebrows. the righteous among Israel.Hadashim and Merkavah Mysticism (Leiden. Allegro (Oxford. chiromancy. The most extensive idem. (3) Zohar Iadash 35b-37c. appears to go back to a Qumran document. ed. and (4) Tikkunei Zohar." in Sefer Assaf (Jerusalem. These texts already speak. 15-16. and "Ein Fragment zur Physiognomik und Chiromantic aus der Spatantiken judischen Esoteric. hair. pp. 12. and quality of voice. pp. One "sees" the soul in the sense that the lettersare a relatively materialexpression of that whichis otherwise immaterial. (2) Zohar 2. Gruenwald. 317-319. in turn. Apocalyptic treatment of physiognomy. the Merkavah literature indicates that physiognomic criteria were employed to determine eligibility for admission into the circle of mystics. toes. and sexual organs. 71a-78a (along with the parallel version in Raza de-Razin). fingers. albeit in an unsystematic and exceedingly obscure way. and metoposcopic issues in several places. height. Bleeker (Leiden. This chapter and related materials are analyzed in two articles by G. on exegesis of Exodus 18:21. tikkun 70. see also idem. Physiognomic considerations play little role in conventional rabbinic materials. 481-485). to the fairly extensive discussions in the zoharic corpus. the entirealphabetbelongingto eachgradewill appear. Concerning this. Scholem. in part. 459-495 (see particularly. . and metoposcopy in medieval Jewish literature. at least to some degree. Concerning this. beard. is found in the zoharic corpus. see below. the foreheaddisclosesthe soul's lettersbest of all. The literature of the Zohar treats physiognomic. . The earliest Jewish interest in physiognomy. 1980). 1969). 5. M. including: (1) Zohar 2. The appearance of the letterson the skin allowsone who can theirmeaningvirtuallyto see the divinepart recognizethem and determine of the human personality. most especiallyupon the forehead. published as 4Q 186. pp." Accordingto Vital. 15-22. 218-224." in Scholem's Kabbalah (Jerusalem. pp."2 The 11. in general. These speculations are based. 1968). I. is symbolizedby the forehead. "Hakkarat Panim ve-Sidrei Sirtutin." Tarbiz40 (1971): 301-319. eyes. due. C. 11). As in the Qumran text.which. prior to the Lurianic texts. n. pp. 89-91. "Ketaim mi-Sifrut Hakkarat Panim ve-Sidrei Sirtutin. pp. such as the size and shape of the thighs. although greatest significance was attached to the lines and letters upon the palm and forehead.In the case of one who has sufficientlymendedall threegrades of soul. Such criteria. 272b-276a. lips.to the factthatthe lettersof the alphabetas a wholecorrespond to the sefirahBinah. n." in Liber Amicorum: Studies in Honor of Professor Dr. J.at one time or another. on the body's skin. in part.the soul itself. chiromantic. These criteria have to do with the character of the nose. eyes. While the Lurianic notions of metoposcopy described here do not appear to have any direct link to the material found in the Merkavah literature (see above. SRH. 12. but were of great interest to the Merkavah mystics. 1953). "Chiromancy. pp. they are unmistakably indebted. J. teeth. According to this text certain physiognomic criteria. of certain letters which appear on the hand and forehead. 1974). vol. along with a person's zodiacal sign. eyelashes.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 85 The lettersare unveiledand manifestthemselves in a way whichis visibleto the skilledeye. The primary text in this connection is Hakkarat Panim le-Rabbi Yishmael. Qumran Cave 4. SRH.
festsonly one set of letters. for example. Sometimesa certainword-such as the word bayyim(signalingthat a personcan expectto continuein life)-will appear brieflyand then disappear. 111:3). (3) Whereas the Zohar's discussion incorporates elements of astrological speculation. if a personhas only perfected the letterswill be small. Luria is able to determine the specific sins or righteous acts which a person has performed. or joyfulness. on the other hand. the person on a regularbasis. forehead.86 LAWRENCE FINE particularletters which appear on a person's forehead depend upon the commandmentswhich that individualperformsproperly.and more than one of a particular letteris required to spellout a wordon his forehead. In our texts. and metoposcopy-discussing the significance of the hair.idkato]endurethforever"(Ps. . That is with of the ten it to different letters each is. lips. chiromancy. and far less with letters.For there is a letter to correspondto each and every precept(althoughwe are informed about only a few of the details of this correspondence). then. If an individualmanithe level of nefesh. 16) and is clearly not genuinely concerned with astrology.however.and reappear the letterwill initiallyappearbrightly a second or third time as needed.By possible identify While I plan to analyze these materials elsewhere. such as the shape of the forehead or eyes. impulsiveness.and in whom there who performsall the commandments is no sin.and so on. eyes. In Luria's case. and the ears-Luria was almost exclusively concerned with metoposcopy. signify certain moral and spiritual traits in general ways. sefirot. lines on the hand. in one placein the word.Certainletters. Thus. will appear more brightlythan at other times under various conditions.One skilledin this art. must be carefulto gaze at the right time upon an individual'sforehead. (4) The Zohar tends to indicate how physical characteristics. the Lurianic account has only the briefest passing referenceto this (see SRH. face.Thus. The lettersof the alphabetalso possessa sefiroticcorrespondence. (2) The Zohar's analysis of metoposcopy is mostly concerned with the shape of the forehead and with the lines or creases appearing in it. it is worth noting here certain substantial differences between the Zohar's discussions and the Lurianic one: (1) Whereas the Zohar treats in some detail the several subjects of physiognomy. that is.vot.the appropriate ly brightlyon that same day.edakah). lettersshineespecialWhenone performsparticular mi.whose lettersremainshiningbrightlyupon one's forehead for an entire week. He takes up other matters in the most passing way. p. will bearall the lettersupon his forehead. Thus.An exceptionis the deed of charity(. there is no discussion of anything but the letters and words which manifest themselves. a person is said to be inclined toward anger. This is demonstrated by the scripturaltext: "And his righteousness[. on the basis The levelof soul whichone has achievedis also discernible of the size of the letterswhichappear.havingattainedonly the levelof nefesh. the forehead.
p.And if it is performed correctly. which. 17.T. a berakhah is recitedwith a mistake. According to B. letters.If one sees that the opposite is the case.but will be dark and unillumined.vot as a whole have their correspondingletters. this indicatesthat one's son has died. the letter will be present.'3 The recitationof the one hundredberakhot (blessings)required daily of of individual also induces the manifestation letters. Sometimesa particular letter will appearbroken in the middle. Ibid. 15. for example. it signalsthat the blessingwas not performed properly. Yose declares it to be the duty of everyone to recite one hundred blessings daily. 14. if it appearsabnormally. Menabot 43b.In this connection.then the letter will appearbut will be incompleteor imperfectly formed.The lightsof the letters which appear on the skin as a result of recitingberakhotare each letter. p. for example. sinceit 13. for the appropriateletters will appearmore frequentlythan the others.Vital relatesan interestingincident. Thereis one letter.or that something tragic has befallen the individualinvolved.Indeed. . corresponding If do not appearat all. In the case of the letter bet. but without appropriatecontemplativeintention. One who is responsiblefor some transgressionwill be lacking in the corresponding on his forehead.Moreover. so too do the berakhot that one recites.be it a sin of commissionor omission. R.thentheirabsence indicates sinfulness.whichwill therebyfail to displaythemselves someone upon whose foreheadno lettersare discernible can expectto meet his death withinthirtydays unlesshe performsacts of greatrestitutionand repentance.such as in the courseof dailyprayer..if one fails to performcertainberakhot their letters altogether. If the appearance of letterssignifiesvirtuousbehavior.The wife of a certainindividualhad demandedof him that he engagein intercourse. SRH.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 87 virtue of this one can ascertainthe sefiroticroot of a person'ssoul. SRH. At other times lettersmay appearupsidedown or lying on theirside. 5 There are other indicationsof the presenceof sinfulness.indicatesthat a man has had intercourse with his wife in an impropermanner. 18. p. somethingwhichhe didn'twantto do.this surrounding light specialinsofaras thereis lightsurrounding is moreluminescent thanthat of the letteritself. whereas Numbers Rabbah 18 indicates that King David instituted the one hundred daily blessings.14 For just as the every 613 mi. 16. that the light of the letteris moreintensethan the surrounding light.
the gimel appearedin this unusualmanner. In general. 17.The very presenceof the additionalSabbathsoul can be determinedby gazing upon the forehead.Insofaras the man involveddid not intend to stimulateYesodby havingsex at what he consideredto be an improper time. p. by virtue of other deeds he has The transgressions carried out.. we learn that scholarsof the Torah experiencea special Interestingly.Luriatold the sefirahassociatedwithmaleprocreaVital.if he does not undergoritualimmersion.says Luria. If he evidenceof his impurity seeks to cleansehimselfof this impuritythroughritualimmersionin water.but that it appeared upsidedown. Ibid. If a personis a greatscholarof Torah. For this reason. the letterson the foreheadof a male whose soul-ancestry (gilgul)derivesfrom the feminineside of the divine structure will consistentlyappearupside down. In such instances. the sin will be discernible However. tive vitality.the extraSabbath ritualimmersion required soul manifestsitself. however.humanand divine. merits the "extra" soul which people can acquire on the Sabbath.andparticularly kind of dispensation.For as soon as one performsthe as preparation for the Sabbath.Were it a sin the letter would have been turned upsidedown.Luriaindicatedthat such an act should not be considereda transgression.16 If a personexperiences a nocturnalemission(tumatkeri). coveringover the sins for which he is responsible.providingthat they are minor transgressions. . the evidencefor which is found upon his forehead. 16.This is due to the fact that the powersof evil have no potency on the Sabbath.they are significantsins. LuriainformedVitalthat he had recognized the lettergimelon the man'sforehead.Thegimel."If. then the evidencewill remainduringthe day but will be only mildlyvisible. if he is a studentof Kabbalah(hokhmat his studyhas the effectof ha-emet).. 17.symbolizesthe sefirahYesod. Ibid.88 LAWRENCE FINE happened to be a weekday rather than Sabbath. but wouldnot haveshonebrightlyas it did. 22. p. scholarlymerit notwithstanding. until he does so. the preferredtime for maritallove. then they will be discernible. despite the fact that it occurredon a weekday. it signifiesthat the realmof the feminine is involved. of a person who.one's sins are not visible upon the forehead.the will appearon his foreheadthe followingday. will not be visible upon the forehead during the course of the Sabbathitself.whena lettermanifestsitself upsidedown.
and the way that it lies. 20. Moses Galante.However.whenhe inquiresand searches out a person'ssoul [directly]. But the primary place is the forehead. color.due to theirbeingtoo subtleand concealed. for example.. In the case of hair. Such evidence clearly suggests that Luria actually engaged in this activity. even includingmattersof detail. Kohelet Ya'akov (Safed. then he is ableto learnthingswith greataccuracy and clarity. 11-12 above. p. informing us about that individual's actions. There are a substantial number of anecdotal reports by Vital and other Safed scholars about Isaac Luria's practice of the art of metoposcopy. HIayyimVital indicated that there were limitations to his master's abilities to diagnose the status of the soul on the basis of metoposcopy. He wouldinquireof it and ask it questions. 1558).. especially the eyes. all are clues to a person's status.and speakwith it [directly]. writes that he had personally seen sages who had the ability to practice the art of "determining [the letters on] the countenance. and that it was not merely a matter for theoretical discussion. 57a. He possessedanotherkind of skill. p." "9In addition. other parts of the body have special features which are instructive with respect to one's conduct and character. . 20. they could appear on any part of the body. At times he had to resort to more direct communication with an individual's soul.and it wouldanswerwhatever it was he desiredto know.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 89 In this connection. p. type of hair. Ibid. although we are provided no details about this.'8 While the forehead was the most common place for the materialization of the soul's letters.He told me that thereare some thingswhich he is unableto discernwhen he gazes upon the lettersof the forehead. 17. and all types of bodily hair. Ibid. he could call forth the nefesh. 19. fingernails. "Know that in each and every organ of a person's body. as indicated earlier.ru'ah. for example. See nn. length." 20Similar- 18. there are letters engraved.or neshamah of an individual.
located in the upper Galilee. author of the influential treatise on kabbalistic piety.23 Elsewhere.. Sha'ar ha-Amidah. . 25a. p. where [on high] the harm had its impact. He [also] knew the restitution that 21. 1579). Reshit IHokhmah(Venice. 19. He knew the gravity of the injury brought about by each transgression. Peri Ez Hayyim (Jerusalem.22 and told Azikri reports that Luria once gazed upon the face of a certain sage him that "the transgression of cruelty toward animals is inscribed upon your countenance. chap. In Safed. Elijah de Vidas. although it is interesting to note that each of them implies that there may have been others with this skill.Theywerecapableof sagesfor whomit was appropriate and were able to ha-parguJ] practicingthe art of physiognomy[bokhmat all that he had done-whether it was good or evil. writes: . 6.90 LAWRENCE FINE ly. upon looking into his face..Haredim. 1980). we learn in more general terms that Luria "used to recognize. there have already appeared to recitethis blessing. 22.21 There can be little doubt that both Galante and de Vidas had in mind Isaac Luria. informa man concerning did not meritthis wonderfulwisdom(whichis To be sure. The sage then proceeded to tell Luria what had transpired. Sefer Iaredim (Venice. Safed Spirituality. 83 ff. see Fine. Without knowing what had taken place. Elijah de Vidas. these individuals akin to possessingthe Holy Spirit)excepton accountof theirvirtuousdeeds and saintly behavior. Reshit flokhmah. his relationship to Luria. and the nature of the harm. upon the forehead of a man. After making sure that his wife took corrective action to care properly for the animals he came again before Luria.Berakhot He who hathimparted 58a]. pp." chap. 1601). Luria informed him. the virtuous deeds and the sins which he had committed or had contemplated committing. Eleazar Azikri preserves a story bearing upon Luria's knowledge of metoposcopy in his Sefer ." The distressed man returned home to discover that his wife had failed to feed their turkeys and had left them to wander in the street. our sagestaught:"On seeingthe sagesof Israelone shouldsay. and Reshit fIokhmah.T. 23. that the transgression had been expiated. Vital reports an incident in which Luria gazed upon the forehead of a certain sage and informed him that in his entire life this man had never recited a certain prayer correctly. 'Blessedbe of His wisdomto themthat fearHim'" [B. "The Gate of Love. Concerning de Vidas.
"24 Our sourcesalso indicatethat Luriautilizedhis skill for a purposeother than determining a person'smoralstatus. Here too he instructedthe discipleto recite this text before falling asleep. andgimelon his forehead.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 91 was required[forits repair]. be it some rabbinicworksuch as the Mishnah.and ascendto still higherlevelsin the divinerealm. in accordance with the Lurianicnotion that every soul possesses interpretations of Scripture that areuniqueto it.This demonstrated. 251. Sefer Toledot ha-Ari. 190.25 ElsewhereVital describesthis activity in a somewhat differentway. hakdamah 17.that Vital neededto show compassiontowardhis father. Sha'ar ha-Mi. he might gain full knowledgeof the verse's meaning. p.He evening gaze upon would see a scriptural verse shiningupon the forehead.and determine what kindof text his soul would studythat nightwhenit ascendedon high. ed. 27. while the gimel was upside down. p. In such a way the individual's soul wouldincreasein purity.27 In a different versionof this tradition we learn that the letters alef and bet.he writes. in terms of the significancethat it held for that individual's to concentrate spiritualcondition. 17. Sha'ar ha-Gilgulim of the Shemonah She'arim. Luriawouldthenpartially explainthe esotericmeaning of the verse. Luriawould gaze upon the foreheadof each studentaftersunset. accordingto Luria. 26. In Sha'ar ha-Gilgulim Vital writes that every single his master would the face of each of his disciples.althougheven herethe soul's perfection was at issue. He would provideeach and everyindividualwith the means of atonementin accordancewith the sin he had committed. SRH. Ve-ethanan. andthe recitation of scriptural verses.26 Vital also preserves severalanecdotesin whichhe himselfwas involved.28 24.The disciplewas theninstructed uponthe he had and been to the recite verse beforegoing to sleep. 25.the visualizedverse was one that pertainedto that particular student'ssoul.vot.or an esotericone such as the Zohar. explanation given. . This report is found in a somewhat legendary account of Luria's activities. Eleh Toledot Yi. p. 87. p.whereit wouldenjoythe revelationof additionalmysteries of the Torah. On one occasion. 28. Benayahu in his Sefer Toledot ha-Ari. were writtenin normal fashion. spellingout the word av ("father").Luriaidentifiedthe lettersalef.bak.bet.contemplation. He did this so that when his soul ascendedto the upperrealmduringsleep.in termsof fasts. Benayahu.
173.Again. king of 29This revealed that he was investedwiththe soul of King Hezekiah Judah.Luriainformedhim that the spiritof BenAzzai had investeditselfin him. "Preparea throne for Hezekiah."3 to The commonfeaturein theseincidentsis IsaacLuria'srolein bringing ed. says Vital. 30. 1954). Sometimeduringthat Sabbathday Vital becameangrywhile in his house.whereupon. despitethe fact that BenAzzai Ben Azzai was. Concerning Vital's 29. 191. Luria recognized the spirits of both Hezekiahand Rabbi Akiva upon Vital's forehead. by reasonof which Hezekiah'ssoul departed.e.causingone to fall prey to sin or to be punished. night. pp. 165. Sefer ha-IHezyonot. p.30 His teacheris able to explainthe meaningof a dreamthat Vitalhad by reference to the name of Rami bar Hami..on a Sabbatheve.vot.causingthese spiritsto leave him. WritesVital.The conclusionLuriareachedwas that Vital was amoraicsage. however. and Vital did not share the same soul-ancestry.vot investedwith the soul of this Babylonian another Vital preserves story. should I utter Samael'sname. Akiva's son-in-law. which Luriahad seen on Vital'sforehead the eveningbefore. he describes an incident accordingto which Luria is reported. Satan)while conversingwith someoneat night.The following morningLurialooked at his face and told him that he had violatedthe prohibitionagainstutteringthe namesof othergods."To do otherwisecan have injurious consequences. accordingto which he spoke the nameof yet Samael(i. Sefer ha-IHezyonot. In this story. After Vital had wept experienced and repentedonce again for the sin of anger.Vital's dream diary. Mishpatim." as his "extra"Sabbathsoul.Vitalreportsa storywith a similartheme. 174. then. on the next Sabbath eve. "he strictly neither duringthe day nor the warned me that under no circumstances. 143-144.Vital anger. A. 184. In Sha'arha-Mi. cf. Aeshcoly (Jerusalem. 31. In anotherentryin his diary. soul-ancestry in general.92 LAWRENCE FINE In Sefer ha-fIezyonot. .The followingweek Vitalrepentedfor havingbeen angry. p. and his relationship to Hezekiah in particular.It is to observethat in this seriesof incidentsLuriais not said to have interesting the deeds for which Vital was responsible.p.but the effectthose determined deeds had upon his spiritualstate. Luriais reportedto have been able to determine the coming and going of Vital'svisiting souls by gazing on his forehead. Z. however. Sha'ar ha-Mi. 36. to have seen on Vital's forehead the words. 198.
miningwhetherthe souls withwhichhe had beeninvestedhad deserted it clear that Luria make with the described ones These reports. he employedthe art of metoposcopyin order to determinethe status of a person's spiritualcondition on the basis of his actions.whatthese storiesdo tell us is that Luria'spracticeof this artwas sufficientlycommonplacefor it to be mentionedas a matter of fact. the future. in significantpart. "wondrousand true things"which"it is impossiblefor one to relate. I.as seenearlier. from the distantas well as the more recentpast. wisdom The readercould be expectedto be familiarwith the remarkable and knowledgewhich Isaac Luria exhibited. . in Vital's words."One has to witness them in order to comprehendtheir extraordinary nature. as in the caseof the Hezekiahstory. Rather.32 suggeststhe way in which Luria's followers regarded these abilities. Vital's discussionof the variousesotericskills Luriapossessed. with the fact that they demonstratedLuria'smasterfulability to communicatewith a wide range of heavenlymessengers. They are. In these incidentswas not to impress Vital's case the motivationin narrating the readerwith Luria'sskill as much as to informhim about Vitalhimself.eitherby explicitlyinforminghim of what he had done wrongor. Whilewe cannot know whetherthe incidentsreportedhere occurredas described. Their wondrouscharacterhad to do.along earlier.nowhereare did not use this techniquefor purposesof predicting we told that Luriahad propheticknowledgeof what was to come. inquiringof them "knowledge of the futureand secretmysteriesof the Torah.by deterhim.Thus he could speak with the souls of departedsages. See above. even a general discussion of such questions will enable us to place the phenomenonof metoposcopywithin a broaderLurianiccontext."He could 32.and the types of knowledgehe exhibited. III The accounts by Ijayyim Vital and others concerningIsaac Luria's practiceof metoposcopypromptimportantquestionshavingto do with the characterof Luria'sknowledgeand the source of his authority.While the present study cannot treat these complex issues in the detail they deserve.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 93 Vital'sattentiona sin he had committed. sec.
"Elijah would constantly reveal himself to him. knowledge. he experienced revelations from a heavenly agent of even greater importance than the rest of these. 1948). index to the names of individuals.. Vital provides us with Luria's views regarding the history of the transmission of kabbalistic knowledge.or throughElijah flows fromon high. speaking to him directly.. pp. directly every generationto those who are qualifiedto receivethem. by power only by means of divine vitalitywhich and angels. As Vital reports. Sefer ha-Gilgulim. Vital makes this clear in rather explicit terms: are not revealedto humanbeings The secretsof the Torahand her mysteries the of their but intellects. p. 25b. and angels."33Luria. were believed to be largely unavailablethrough conventional methods of attaining knowledge of the Torah.. Wiener.94 LAWRENCE FINE communicate with the angels on high "who announce all the proclamations . and instruct him in these mysteries. 379.from apprehended one individual[directly] to another. see A. and converse with them. 66-98. 27. namely. a language which contains mysteries from above. 35.35 In this context. 34.may his memorybe a blessing. Most significantly. The deep wisdom.. Concerning the multifaceted role of Elijah in Jewish literature. Reshit ha-Kabbalah(Jerusalem. intellectual study.but only throughKabbalah.34 Vital amplifies this point in the following words: . 1978). Regarding revelations of Elijah experienced by earlier kabbalists.directly fromElijah. throughGod's messengers the prophet. Benayahu.. p.mayhis memorybe a or from those souls reveal themselvesin each and which blessing. teachers. esotericknowledge]cannot be by meansof humanintellect. was considered to have easy and ongoing access to the heavenly realm. The Prophet Elijah in the Development of Judaism (London. See. the referencesto Elijah in Sefer Toledot ha-Ari. Elijah the prophet. there is no doubt that these matters[i. Sefer ha-Gilgulim. p. and skills acquired by these means. then. for example. Ibid.. The Lurianic literature is replete with stories and references to Luria's experience of meriting the revelation of Elijah. . Kabbalistic mysteries were 33. moreover. and to be uniquely adept at holding direct conversations with a wide assortment of ancient prophets.p. 25a." He was able to comprehend the language of birds.e. Scholem. see G.
Sefer ha-Gilgulim. personal revelationsfrom Elijahthe prophet. 37b. the greatSpanishrabbiof the thirteenth century. pp. Cf.Moses ben Nabman.Quoting (Rashbi). Concerning the question of divine revelations experienced by the earliest kabbalists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Heschel. "We Have No Kabbalistic Tradition on This. passed From them kabbalistictradition passed to the final teacher of genuine Kabbalah. to less than the first and Vital. Posquieres his tradition on to his two disciples.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 95 taught openly and publicly until the death of Rabbi Simeon bar Yobai of the Zohar.includingAbrahamben David of (1120-1191). I.. p. Shivhei ha-Ari. even to these select disciples. Mass.36 Followinga well-known traditionrecorded by MenahemRecanati(ca.each disclosinghis knowledgeto a single disciple. may he rest in peace. In this connection.Vitalinforms us that duringthis time certainsages wereprivilegedto merit direct." in Rabbi Moses Nahmanides (Ramban): Explorations in His Religious and Literary Virtuosity. All of those sages who had borne kabbalisticwisdomsince that time have done so in great secrecy. Mass. 165-207.Vital writesthat ever since Simeon bar Yohai'sdeath "wisdomhas departedfrom this earth"(Zohar 1.Isaac. Rabad of Posquibres: A Twelfth Century Talmudist (Cambridge. 38.to whom traditionascribesthe authorship the Zohar'sown words on this subject." in Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (New York. 286-300. until now. 6. . ed."38Despite the aforementionedclaim that true Kabbalah had not manifesteditself since Nahmanides. Isaacthe Blind.37 What was Isaac Luria'splace in this process of transmission? Luria.Even more. 26a.. Idel's study of Nabmanides' own view regarding what constitutes genuine and legitimate kabbalistic tradition. 1228-ca. Ibid. J. Ezra and Azriel of Gerona. (yebideisegullah)"upon Holy Spirit Elijah.In such a generalizations and fragmentary way kabbalisticwisdomwas passed from one fragmented generationto the next until the time of Moses ben Nabman(Nabmanides). 51-73. and the latter'sson. pp. I. according representsnothing only appearance of authentickabbalistic knowledgesinceNabmanides. p. What is more. 37. Twersky. pp. For this knowledgehas "been neitherseen nor heard in all the land since the days of Rabbi Simeon bar Yobai. "Al Ruab ha-Kodesh be-Yemei ha-Beinayim.kabbalisticmasterstaught in only. especially pp. revealingbut a portion of their knowledge. 1983).in turn. 1290). 1962). 190-193. Twersky (Cambridge. 1950).his knowledgemay be comparedonly to that of Rabbi Simeonbar Yobai himself.Vital writes that in every generation God displays his compassion by giving Israel extraordinary individuals whom the and to whom rested. 36. see A. see M. p. 217a).
34-46. 26a. gain knowledge suchmeansstands. 68-70. It would be mistaken to conclude from this that Luria did not engage also in conventional textual study. was evicharisma.Talmud. of Kabbalah. then. Safed Spirituality. brought stylesmay suchinquiry. Merkavah.maybe saidto havebeenregarded by hiscircleas an individual of a charismatic to possessing knowledge type. ed. see." and skills.this legitimization by the Lurianic of the charismatic mode of truthis. p.thatis. not onlyby his remarkable denced butevenmoresignificantly.in marked contrast to traditional through rabbinic methods of developing various teachings through typesof textual hermeneutical be to bearupon Whiledifferent inquiry. knowledge Luria's his especially close relationship to the sacred. 40. p.. nos. mayhisnamebe foraneverfilledlike a pomegranate with [knowledge lastingblessing.should be understood as oneaspect-albeita mostimportant whichhelped establish Luria as a teacher and one--of a typeof knowledge mentor of unique statusin Safed. Mishnah.Pilpul." IsaacLuria. Sefer ha-Gilgulim.of course. For a discussion of the notion of religious charisma as it is used here." in Charismaand Sacred Biography. through may memory 40 blessing. IsaacLuria Ashkenazi. extremely significant. 39. pp. sending saintly angel. saintly teacher. and Ma'aseh Ma'asehBereshit. mediated his bea Elijah. andesoteric whicharetypically skills. of both exoteric and esoteric texts. Keyes. interpreting. see Charles F. Parashat Ve-ethanan. M. SRH. pp. asa person whomdirect andexceptional of thesacred hadbeenvouchsafed. Ibid.Midrashim.41 Mastery of which. the traditions reported in Sha'ar ha-Mipvot." God hasnot withheld a redeemer fromIsrael. revealed themin the himself. religious Froman historical pointof view. us a "the our rabbi. the commonfactoris the essentially intellectual processof an text for the of or studying existing purpose clarifying.it was believed.the knowledge fromon high.mysteries by his unusual knowledge of the human of the artof metobeyond grasp ordinary beings. great ourrabbi andmaster. for example. 41. couldonly havecome poscopy. of] Scripture. . Williams. "Charisma: From Social Life to Sacred Biography.96 LAWRENCE FINE be a blessing. may his memory instructing secrets In ourgeneration. Journal of the AmericanAcademy of Religion ThematicStudies 48. Some of the relevant texts are translated in Fine. 27a.and all who 39All who witnessLuria's knowledge familiarize themselves with his teachings will recognize "thatthe human mind[byitself]couldnot attainsuchdeepandwondrous matters without thepower of theHolySpirit. Concerning this subject. in my fellowship acquiring religious The effort to kabbalistic view. saintliness. 3 and 4 (1982): 1-22.
N. "Mishnah as a Vehicle for Mystical Inspiration: A Contemplative Technique Taught by Hayyim Vital." Sefunot. pp. Shimon bar Yohai (Jerusalem. n.as we have seen. Philosophers. as well as most kabbalists. in which he discusses this book's influence upon the development of the kind of revelatory techniques mentioned here. "Religious Authority and Mysticism. Werblowsky. are all vivid examples of the emergenceof a new point of view. Scholem. 1982). The revelatorymaggidof the TurkishkabbalistJosephTaitaeak.claiminginstead that the the meaningof Torahwas now a more"earthly" privilegeof understanding the Lurianists reasserted the contentionthat more directchannelsof one.42 communicationwere not only possible. Vital's technique is studied in L." Revue des etudesjuives 141 (1982): 183-199. Joseph Karo. rather than from an individual'sown intellectual God's will. see Werblowsky.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 97 furtheringmeaning.one need only apply the appropriatetechniquesin order to ferretout the intentionof the text. pp. "Ha-Maggid shel R. "Maggidic Revelation in the Teachings of Isaac Luria. see G. see L. HayyimVital's of with the soul a of technique communing departedtanna. 1982)." Sefunot 11 (1977): 69-112. pp. as well. 1971). This was the case not only for the rabbis of late antiquity. See. Liebes. Ha-Mashiah shel ha-Zohar-leDemuto ha-Meshihit shel R. Idel. Fine. Z. 38-83. Joseph Karo. for example.the heavenlydisclosures experienced Moses Cordovero and Solomon their walks amidst the AlkabeZ by during sites of Karo's and Safed. 2." in Mystics.. therewereearlierkabbalistswhom kabbalistic traditionregardedas havinggainedtheirknowledgein this way. pp. 141-157. In this connection. see G. passim. Concerning the experiences of Joseph Taitaeak. idem. 17 (1983): 185-266. 107-109. Bava Meria 59b. Yosef Taitaeak ve-ha-Giluyim ha-Meyubasim Lo. ed." in his On the Kabbalahand Its Symbolism. For meaning is believed to reside within the texts themselves. Lawyer and Mystic (Oxford. Joseph Karo. no. The Messianic Idea in Judaism (New York.Joseph grave maggidicvisitations. 282-303.and Politicians. 1962). the often-cited text in the Babylonian Talmud. 51-55. but urgentlypreferable. pp. On Karo. pp. J. biblicalexegetes of various types. as well as Y. But it was not until the fifteenthand sixteenthcenturiesthat we encounterthe proliferationof this type of activityon a large scale. was regardedas deriving directly from on high. see R.C. Scholem. Fine. On the revelations accorded Cordovero and AlkabeZ.43When Isaac Luria 42. Whereas the talmudicsageswentout of their powerto determine way to deny the possibilityof furtherprophecy. As we have alreadyseen. On the question of revelation and authority. 43. "Iyyunim be-Shitat Ba'al Sefer ha-Meshiv. See also the study by M. it was true for the medievalphilosophers. J. the survey of such techniques in Werblowsky. but to some heavenly source.s. . Knowledge. In Luria'scase appealwas not madeto the inherentmeaningof existing texts which could be discoveredthrough rational inquiry. 5-31. See. Swetschinski (Durham. Reinharz and D.
98 LAWRENCE FINE arrivedin Safed from Egypt in the year 1570.requiredeach of his for the extremely complextask of tikkun. by those who had alreadyachieveda degreeof personaltikkun.could be practicedsuccessfully only by individualswho were thoroughlyworthy. Luriawas indeeda as Vitaltellsus.that is. as one who was gifted beyond compare. Dan. In this connection. insofaras healingthe soul was an indispensable "redeemer.in Luriawe see a rich and full realizationof this tendency. as mentioned earlier. he found himself in cultural surroundings which were highly supportiveof men who sought of Torah from on high. knowledge Luria was not. describedin such detail in the Lurianicliterature. disciplesto assumeresponsibility Tikkun refersto the elaborateactivityof mendingthe cosmicflaws brought of the vessels. This is a subject which deserves further investigation.as well as throughthe powerof his teachingsthemLuria was well positionedto raise the phenomenonof charismatic selves." and insofaras he imparted stagein the largertask of messianicredemption."as about by the intradivine ruptureknownas the "breaking human sin. 11. towardwhich Isaac Luria's mythologicalteachingswere directedin their entirety.But such rites. then. particularly Sabbatianism and IHasidism. The projectof redemption.Yemeiha-Beinayim (Jerusalem. Ha-Sippur ha-Ivri be. however. 1974). Rather. At its this was to be accomplished well as by deepest levels through the performanceof intricate contemplativeand theurgic rites. Shivbei ha-Ari and Toledot ha-Ari.Throughthe strengthof his impressive personality. chap.44 IV Luria'scapacityto diagnosethe moral statusof his disciplesand others withinthe specific has also to be understood throughthe artof metoposcopy his he and circle believedthemcontextof the redemptive of which process selves to be a part. see J. 44. and who weresuccessful in those efforts.in significant part through the hagiographical works on Luria. One ought not to underestimate the influence which the personality of Isaac Luria exerted upon later mystical developments.merely another example of a general tendency. experienceto a status which it had not known for centuries. Luria's expertiseat diagnosing sin and offeringprecise withwhichto purifythe soul was perceived exercises penitential by his circle as an essentialdemonstration of Luria'sredemptive role. .Luria stood out in largepart becausehe was perceivedas a virtuosoat such activity.
pp. 47. Luria is also reported to have engaged in a ritual known as yihud ("unification") by lying stretched out upon Rashbi's grave. hidden [until now] from the eyes of all living things. This has already been noted and briefly discussed by Y.until the king Messiahcomes.untilnow. For an English translation of these sections. in the course of this event Rashbi and his disciples revealed recondite mysteries of the Torah. Ha-Mashiah shel ha-Zohar. as a result of which Rashbi revealed to Luria "all that 45. and that the time was ripe for the increased disclosure of heavenly secrets. and to have placed each of his disciples in the position of one of Simeon bar Yobai's comrades. For Isaac Luria and his followers believed that theirs was the final."Now is the time. SRH. as he [i. for this wisdom was concealedsince the days of Rashbi. an event known in the Zohar as the Holy Idra ("threshing floor"). Rosenberg. one tradition is of particular relevance to our subject. revealing to each disciple the comrade with whose soul he was bound through the process of metempsychosis.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 99 techniques of contemplation to those he deemed worthy to play a further and more advanced role in the process. p. for on accountof our saintlyteacher.. the Idra Rabba played an exceedingly important role in Isaac Luria's thinking. See Shivbei ha-Ari. pp.and believed his closest disciples to be reincarnations of Rashbi's comrades!46While there is rich and diverse evidence attesting to this. 48. 17. In general. pp.48 Luria is reported to have sat in the exact spot that Rashbi had occupied.. The Anatomy of God (New York. see R. 153. 287b-296b. mentioned in n..e.our honoredmaster. The Idra Rabba is studied in the monograph by Liebes mentioned in the preceding note. may he rest in is not givento reveal peace. Sefer haHlezyonot.RabbiIsaacLuria. by means of the spirit of prophecywhich in him. According to this tradition-recorded in several places in slightly different versions47-Luria and his disciples journeyed to the same place where Rashbi and his fellowship had engaged in a dramatic study session. 43. According to the Zohar. . 179-180. may his memorybe a blessing. Sefer Toledot ha-Ari. 109-110 and passim. 46. Benayahu. Rashbi]taught:"Permission it until the final generation. . p. Luria regarded himself as Simeon bar Yobai redivivus. 1973). 39-40.45 The connection between Simeon bar Yobai and Isaac Luria goes even deeper. Liebes in his important study. messianic generation. The section of the Zohar entitled Idra Rabba is in Zohar 3. our eyes havebegunto be enlightened withthe lightof divine appeared wisdom.
which lies at the heart of Lurianic mysticism. 17.RabbiAkivaand the other"TenMartyrs. 1962). grouprepresented the process of tikkun. and its relationship to his fellowship's self-understanding.Whereasnow only frag49. Ha-Mashiah shel ha-Zohar. however. The mythological basis for this tradition lies in an intricate set of Lurianic teachings concerning the transmigrationof souls.each group galvanizedaround a central redemptiveprocess. a German version of which is found in idem. 52-58. Sefer Toledot ha-Ari.The redemptionof holiness. p."49Accordingto one versionof this story. 95. The subject of metempsychosis constitutes a major topic in Lurianic teachings. is still needed. see D.for they believed that theiractionswerecapable.these mysterieswould be revealedonce again. chap.at least potentially.100 FINE LAWRENCE he had learned in the academy on high. Concerning the messianic roles of Luria (and Vital). the primary accounts of which are Sha'ar ha-Gilgulim. stagein fellowship. "Ha-Ari ve-ha-Rabu ke-Mashiah ben Yosef. Scholem.50 clear fromthis that Isaac Luriaand his circlebelievedthat they were reenacting and furtheringthe redemptivework that had been carriedout by Rashbi and his fellowship. Von der mystischen Gestalt der Gottheit (Zurich. Sabbatai Sevi. and Sefer ha-ljezyonot. 1886). Cf. the membersof these circlesoccupiedcriticalroles in the Moreover. 35. 50. The Safed kabbalistsappearto have thoughtthat the year 1575would sin witnessthe beginningof the messianicage. for example. Scholem. in the messianicage. pp. 4. in the course of which Luria It is revealedthe secret meaningof Simeon bar Yolai's Idra teachings. particularly those of Luria'sown inner circle. A survey of the history of metempsychosis in kabbalistic literature may be found in G. . and exile had caused the exile of the inner secrets of the Torah. Sefer haGilgulim(Vilna.Throughtheir efforts to bring about tikkunin the supernalrealm. extendedeven to the redemption of the Torahitself. 179-180. 210-229. 51. p.52 the centerof these efforts.of realizingthe redemption once and for all. Tamar. 52. just as a man speaks with his friend.5'For presentpurposesit is sufficientto chain which linked Joseph point out that Luria devised a transmigratory Rashbiand his and his brothers. pt. 109. Shivhei ha-Ari. pp. Liebes.Luriaand his disciplesalso engaged in the study of the Idra itself. Accordingto the Lurianists. 1976)." Sefunot 7 (1963): 167-177. A thorough study of the place of metempsychosis in Luria's mythology." and Luria's Each a decisive comrades. the account in Vital's Sefer ha-ljezyonot. pp.This processhad reacheda who stood at figure new and criticalstage with Isaac Luriaand his disciples. Sefer ha-Gilgulim. Pirkei Yesod be-Havanat ha-Kabbalah u-Semaleha (Jerusalem. See. n.
a the of future and secret "knowledge mysteriesof the Torah."was also a means throughwhich Isaac Luria could facilitatethe task of tikkun. .Ind. The stateby Luria-and to a lesser specialknowledgemeritedin the unredeemed his and others-was degree by disciples regardedas a sign of the coming But it was far more than a mere redemption.THE ART OF METOPOSCOPY 101 ments of the Torah'sdeep mysteriesare available. signal.in the messianicfuture every Israelite will achieve knowledge of the Torah in its entirety.For this knowledge. Indiana University Bloomington.