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HaAri Hakadosh (Hebrew: האר"י הקדוש), also known as Rabbi Isaac Luria, was a mystical poet and a graet kabbalist. He attracted a large number of followers who gave him the title of "HaAri", which means the Lion, because of the initials of the phrase "haeloki Rabbi Yitzhak" – the divine Rabbi Yitzhak.
Luria was born in Jerusalem in 1534. He and his family moved to Egypt and there he studied Jewish law and rabbinic literature. Luria's teachers considered him outstanding in non mystical study.
Luria believed that Elijah the prophet instructed him to move to the Land of Israel, and in 1569, he moved to Tzefat where he studied Kabbalah. Luria originally won fame as a mystical poet. He later started teaching Kabbalah in an academy, and would occasionally speak in Ashkenazi synagogues. On the Sabbath, he dressed in white and many followers considered him a saint. Some say he believed himself to be the Messiah.
HaAri Hakadosh was known for his innovative ideas in understanding creation and various other metaphysical concepts. He created the idea of tzimtzum, the belief that G-d in a way "shrunk himself" to leave a void in which to create the world. He was conservative in interpreting Jewish law and believed that each commandment had a mystical meaning.
He respected all strains of tradition and customs in Judaism. Books on his work include: Etz Hayyim, Shulhan Aroch, Orhot Tzaddikim and Patora de Abba.
Luria died in an epidemic in the summer of 1572 and was buried in Tzefat.