The Awesome Revelation Rabbi Shalom Sharabi Brought To Kabbalah – A Short Intro To The Arizal’s Successor

It’s hard to write in a simple post the awesome contributions Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (The Holy Rashash) has brought to the world of Kabbalah.

There’s simply too much he did and we can never do justice to his teachings.

For those who don’t know, most real Kabbalists nowadays use one of the few variations of the Siddur HaRashash. Among these versions, are the Yare, the Sadeh, or what is assumed to be the original print of the Siddur called Siddur HaNidpas (the printed Siddur). These were all written by renowned mekubalim in their own rights, people of utmost kedusha and prishut.

Before we learn a bit Rabbi Shalom Sharabi’s contribution, it’s important to give a brief introduction to the chain of Kabbalah.

What is Kabbalah exactly?

Kabbalah is the study of the inner dimension of Torah. In simple terms, while the revealed part, which includes mainly Tanach and Talmud studies the what, who, when and where, Kabbalah studies the why. Why we do things the way we do. It’s more or less a study on how Hashem runs the higher and lower realms.

I realise a lot of misinformation has been brought up by honest and dishonest people seeking money. Some even claim to disseminate Rabbi Shalom Sharabi’s teachings but giving out Siddurim for people who barely know Judaism, but that’s for another post.

Despite many people dismissing it, Kabbalah is an essential part of Torah, Nistar and Nigleh are two sides of the same coin. This is why there should ideally be no contradiction between Kabbalah and Halacha. In fact, many poskim were versed in the Sefer HaZohar and writings of the Arizal, like the Magen Avraham, the Ben Ish Chai, the Chazon Ish and Maran Ovadya Yosef.

As it turns out, Kabbalah is divided into 3 parts: Kabbalah Yiunit (“Theoretical”), Kabbalah Ma’asit (“Practical”) and Kabbalah Nevuit (Prophetic). The part that deals with altering reality most is Ma’asit since it involves names of Hashem, angels and demons.

We will delve into these 3 parts in another post, bli neder.

The Chain of Kabbalah until our days

The Patriarchs knew the Torah through Ruach HaKodesh. This included Halacha and Kabbalah as well. A lot was transmitted over to the Jews in the Egypt, though it’s safe to say not in the format we know nowadays (as we haven’t reached Mount Sinai).

Then, we received the Torah and a new reality was introduced. According to some chassidic lines, now we could bring down the light of Torah to improve the world as opposite to simply keeping them up. If someone could confirm where this idea came from, I’d appreciate it.

Kabbalah light

Be that as it may, we have no idea how much the Generation of the Desert knew, except that they were the highest generation since then until the coming of Mashiach. It’s clear that they had access to unimaginable secrets of Torah and they were mostly in a state of unbelievable expanded consciousness given that Hashem was revealed to them on a constant basis.

The generations declined with the years and the number of capable students grew smaller, until the secrets of Torah were mostly in the hands of the Tannaim at the end of the Second Temple era. After the Temple was destroyed, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (The Rashbi) wrote, or rather, dictated the Sefer HaZohar if you will (it was written down by Rabbi Aba).

In it Rashbi explains the order of the spiritual worlds, how Hashem runs them and many of the secrets of Torah. As I mentioned, the Zohar was still concealed and few people knew about it when it came out, most notably, the Arizal. It’s a very complex, difficult to understand book that lays out the blueprint of Hashem’s creation.

The Arizal was the one who brought forth the most comprehensive elucidation on the Zohar. He revealed many of the things that were hidden, even when what he thought was not found or, in many cases, contradicts what the Zohar says. This should not be surprising, since only he had the keys to truly understand Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s intention. He did it all with the revelation of Eliyahu HaNavi and we take his word as absolute truth, meaning that it comes from Shamayim. Without him, the Zohar would continue being a closed book and we wouldn’t know what to do with it.

As a side note, we should keep in mind that the names of the Arizal and Rabbi Chaim Vital are often used interchangeably. The Arizal taught and Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote his Kabbalah, they had one and the same goal and minds.

The difficulties from the Kitvei HaAri

One of the few real mekubalim nowadays, Rabbi Yitzik Meir Morgenstern, remarked that the Arizal (or Rabbi Chaim Vital) left many concepts unexplained, many contradictions hovering in the air and many things written wrongly. On purpose.

If we were all geniuses and could read whole Kitvei Ari, we’d see that many things just doesn’t make sense. And, in fact, many Chassidic Rebbes raised questions about it, which were then left without an answer.

Kabbalah was never meant to be an open picnic, as many clowns out there want to make. These difficulties were left in the Kitvei HaAri in order to ward off unwanted intruders. It was meant for them to never really understand what was being said.

That is, until the Rabbi Shalom Sharabi came to the world. You can find a short biography here.

tomb of the holy Rabbi Shalom Sharabi

The Light of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi

In his extreme humility, the Rashash writes that he came not to change what the Arizal wrote, but to reveal that which was concealed. Yet, his revelations are so shocking that it seems like an entire new Kabbalah. Rabbi Shalom Sharabi in many cases wrote what exactly the Ari meant at certain points, which often contradicted him. But that’s the magic (if you could call it): this actually fits in so beautifully with the entire system, it’s impossible for it not to be true.

Without the Rashash we wouldn’t have a clue what the Arizal meant on the Kavanot of Rosh Hashanah, the many contradictions on the Seder of Shacharit or the proper way to read his writings. Not only that, but the Rashash systematised the Kitvei HaAri in the Siddur, which is the way Kavanot (and Kabbalah) were meant to be used (see introduction to Etz Chaim and Sha’ar HaKavanot).

The requirements are still in place, but the order is much clearer now. I heard from Rabbi Ephraim Goldstein in a shiur that some people aptly compared the Zohar to the Mishnah, the Kitvei HaAri to the Gemara and the Rashash to the Halacha. I don’t think there’s a more elegant way of putting it.

If you go to this link you can see the whole story on how Rabbi Shalom Sharabi became the head of Beit El Yeshiva. It’s quite a fascinating story.

I will make another post about how to assert the authenticity of a Rabbi and his Torah, but suffice to say, being universally accepted by Ba’alei Ruach HaKodesh and those that were zoche to the Giluy Eliyahu HaNavi is one irrevocable way this can happen.

I mean, consider hundreds of sages that have done their utmost in purifying themselves to the extreme, abandoning the pleasures of this world to refine the Avodat Hashem and seek His Torah with all their might. These are recognised authorities, revered throughout the ages like Rabbi Yehuda Ptaya, the Kaf HaChaim, the Ben Ish Chai, the Chida and many Ashkenazi tzaddikim. Out of all these outstanding elders, not one of them went against Rabbi Shalom Sharabi.

True, some like Rabbi Yehuda Ptaya, don’t go on his path, but nobody came forth to say he got it wrong chas v’shalom.

Same thing happens with the Arizal, he’s been universally accepted by real Tzaddikim and Mekubalim of the subsequent generations.

The requirements to study the Rashash’s Torah

There’s no definite set of requirements to study Rabbi Shalom Sharabi’s Torah, but a few things can be inferred from the type of effort necessary to have some understanding of it.

The first thing to know is that this is a study for a lifetime and I’m not exaggerating. Some people spend 80 hours studying Business Law or Finance. Well, l’havdil that’s the amount you may need to spend to have an idea of what you are doing during Shema Israel (keep in mind you have 4 different Shema Israel in a regular day).

Amida goes up to over 80 hours. Birkat HaShachar, put in some 20 or 40 if you count the time to learn Matbeah HaBracha. Yamim Noraim (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot) should be the same 100 as the Amidah. Aleinu Leshabeach should be about 5 hours or so.

These are, of course, estimations. And, as the reader probably knows by now, when it comes to Kabbalah, one needs to know everything in order to understand a little of what is being said because we are looking at the forest, not the trees.

So, I’m not advocating for people here to follow this path as it clearly is not for everyone.

We will see in a different post what are the requirements to study Kabbalah.

May the merit of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi Zt”L protect us.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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