Artistic conception of Karo's appearance. Painting of 19th century
Synagogue of Maran, R. Joseph Karo, in Safed
Karo's grave in Safed
Title page of Karo's Shulchan Aruch

Joseph Karo is said to have paid special attention to Vital's early talents and in 1557 requested that Alshich take special care in his education as he was destined to succeed his teacher in the world of Torah study.

- Hayyim ben Joseph Vital

In Shaarei Kedusha, Rabbi Chaim Vital explains that visitation by a maggid is a form of Divine Inspiration (ruach hakodesh).

- Joseph Karo
Artistic conception of Karo's appearance. Painting of 19th century

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Alshich's grave in Safed

Moshe Alshich

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Prominent rabbi, preacher, and biblical commentator in the latter part of the sixteenth century.

Prominent rabbi, preacher, and biblical commentator in the latter part of the sixteenth century.

Alshich's grave in Safed

He later moved to Safed where he became a student of Rabbi Joseph Caro.

His students included Rabbi Hayim Vital and Rabbi Yom Tov Tzahalon.

Jewish Kabbalists portrayed in 1641; woodcut on paper. Saxon University Library, Dresden.

Kabbalah

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Esoteric method, discipline and school of thought in Jewish mysticism.

Esoteric method, discipline and school of thought in Jewish mysticism.

Jewish Kabbalists portrayed in 1641; woodcut on paper. Saxon University Library, Dresden.
Kabbalistic prayer book from Italy, 1803. Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Basel.
Latin translation of Gikatilla's Shaarei Ora
The Ark of the Covenant in Solomon's Temple was the seat for God's presence. Ezekiel and Isaiah had prophetic visions of the angelic heavenly Chariot and Divine Throne
Grave of Rabbi Akiva in Tiberias. He features in Hekhalot mystical literature, and as one of the four who entered the Pardes
The grave of Shimon bar Yochai in Meron before 1899. A Talmudic Tanna, he is the mystical teacher in the central Kabbalistic work, the Zohar
The 13th-century eminence of Nachmanides, a classic rabbinic figure, gave Kabbalah mainstream acceptance through his Torah commentary
The leading scholars of Safed in 16th-century invigorated mainstream Judaism through new legal, liturgical, exegetical and Lurianic-mythological developments.
Synagogue Beit El Jerusalem. Oriental Judaism has its own chain of Kabbalah
The 16th-century Maharal of Prague articulated a mystical exegesis in philosophical language
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, a leading Italian kabbalist, also wrote secular works, which the Haskalah see as the start of modern Hebrew literature
The Vilna Gaon, 18th-century leader of rabbinic opposition to Hasidism—a Kabbalist who opposed Hasidic doctrinal and practical innovations
Synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism, in Medzhybizh (Ukraine). It gave a new phase to Jewish mysticism, seeking its popularisation through internal correspondence.
The Kabbalist (c. 1910–1920), portrait of an Hasidic man in Jewish religious clothing performed by the Austro-Hungarian Jewish painter Isidor Kaufmann (Jewish Museum, New York)
Metaphorical scheme of emanated spiritual worlds within the Ein Sof
Scheme of descending Sephirot in three columns, as a tree with roots above and branches below
In the 16–17th centuries Kabbalah was popularised through a new genre of ethical literature, related to Kabbalistic meditation
Amulet from the 15th century. Theosophical kabbalists, especially Luria, censored contemporary Practical Kabbalah, but allowed amulets by Sages
Joseph Karo's role as both legalist and mystic underscores Kabbalah's spiritualisation of normative Jewish observance
Building on Kabbalah's conception of the soul, Abraham Abulafia's meditations included the "inner illumination of" the human form
16th-century graves of Safed, Galilee. The messianic focus of its mystical renaissance culminated in Lurianic thought.
Title page of first printed edition of the Zohar, main sourcebook of Kabbalah, from Mantua, Italy in 1558
Golden age of Spanish Judaism on the Knesset Menorah, Maimonides holding Aristotle's work
Kabbalah mysticism on the Knesset Menorah, which shared some similarities of theory with Jewish Neoplatonists
Tikkun for reading through the night of Shavuot, a popular Jewish custom from the Safed Kabbalists
A version of Lekhah Dodi song to welcome the Shabbat, a cross denomination Jewish custom from Kabbalah

Modern halakhic authorities have tried to narrow the scope and diversity within kabbalah, by restricting study to certain texts, notably Zohar and the teachings of Isaac Luria as passed down through Hayyim ben Joseph Vital.

The author of the Shulkhan Arukh (the normative Jewish "Code of Law"), Yosef Karo (1488–1575), was also a scholar of Kabbalah who kept a personal mystical diary.

Example semikhah certificate, Yadin Yadin, of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan awarded by Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel. The wording, as is typical, states that the holder is learned in Shas (ש״ס) – i.e. has wide knowledge of Talmud – as well as in Rishonim and Acharonim – i.e. has deep knowledge of Halakha; the phrase "כל מן דין סמוכין לנא" is often included, and translates "anyone of this [caliber] may be ordained for us".

Semikhah

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Traditional Jewish name for rabbinic ordination.

Traditional Jewish name for rabbinic ordination.

Example semikhah certificate, Yadin Yadin, of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan awarded by Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel. The wording, as is typical, states that the holder is learned in Shas (ש״ס) – i.e. has wide knowledge of Talmud – as well as in Rishonim and Acharonim – i.e. has deep knowledge of Halakha; the phrase "כל מן דין סמוכין לנא" is often included, and translates "anyone of this [caliber] may be ordained for us".

Berab then conferred semikhah through a laying on of hands to four rabbis, including Joseph Karo, who was later to become the author of the Shulchan Aruch, widely viewed as the most important code of Jewish law from the 17th century onwards.

In the 1590s, Alshich ordained Hayyim Vital, and between the years 1594 and 1599, Jacob Berab II ordained seven more scholars: Moses Galante, Elazar Azikri, Moses Berab (Jacob's brother), Abraham Gabriel, Yom Tov Tzahalon, Hiyya Rofe and Jacob Abulafia.