It says in Sforim that one shouldn't learn Kabbalah from any of the students of the Arizal except for R' Chaim Vital (as they didn't understand the Arizal properly).

I have never seen such a worry when it comes to classic "Nigleh" (like Gemaras, Mefarshim, and even Halacha) seforim. Why are we so much more worried of misinterpretation of Kabbalah than Halacha?

  • Because Mis-interpreting Kabbalah leads to unsavory Halachic practices blamed on so called Kabbalistic texts e.x Shabsai Tzvi and Matir Assurim allowed Aishes Ish as per Noda Beyhuda Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 3:37
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    @simchashatorah 1) misinterpreting Halacha could result in a very wrong psak also. 2) How are the writings of R' Chaim Vital any less subject to misinterpretation than, say, the Emek Hamelech (a contemporary)? Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 3:40
  • The 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe actually quotes and learns from one of these other students in the beginning of the hemshech Samech-Vov.
    – HodofHod
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 4:02
  • @HodofHod It's interesting, as IIRC he quotes the Mishnas Chassidim there. Yet the Mishnas Chassidim was one of the major opinions holding Tzimtzum Kepshuta. Moreover the Rebbe says that the Tz"Tz said that all of his writings were from the AriZal. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 4:16
  • @HodofHod Though the Rebbe pointed out in the letter, that the Rabbeim had a unique Mesora to know what is accurate and what isn't. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


First of all the source for this is in Nahar Shalom pg. 34 (140 new edition) by Rabbi Shalom Shaarbi. Also, just want to remind people that I don't want to get into Kabbala here which I always remind people is Asur (see Shut HaRashba 1:414, Yabia Omer 10:23, Yechawe Daat 4:47, Rama Y"D 246:6, Or LeSion Helek HaTorah, ch. 7 and more). The reason is because the word Kabala means "receive" or "accept". Therefore, everything that is learned has to be from Eliyahu HaNavi. Halacha is something we call "Lo Bashmayhim Hi- not in Heaven" meaning it has nothing do with what the Metziut (fact) is, it is based on Rov - majority or according to some logic. Kabbala is not like that, Kabbala from the Ari is called by the Rashash "Divre Elokim Hayim- words of G-d that are alive" (see Eruvin 13b) meaning that they are literally the Metziut. Therefor we must only accept the Arizal because he was appointed by Hashem to transmit Kabala through R' Haim Vital. As I said before, it isn't like Halacha where the decisions are made down here (Lo BaShamyim Hi), but it is "Divre Elokim Hayim- words of G-d."

Please tell me if you need more than this, and precisely what you need.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, this applies to ALL other Kabalists as well (including Shaare Ora, Chassidus, and all others that don't follow the exact path of R' Haim Vital, Rashash, and Ben Ish Hai.

  • Hold on, Kabbalah is asur? I thought it was just that some people hold there's an age limit?
    – HodofHod
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 3:54
  • Even if the other Talmidei Ha'AriZal didn't say the accurate Metzius, would we not say Eilu Vaeilu Divrei Elokim Chaim by them also? So why would it be worse then studying the opinion of Beis Shammai? Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 3:55
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    @HodofHod I don't think I wrote Kabbala is Asur period. I wrote that online it would be Asur (see Maharsha Kidushin 70 and Maharsha Hagiga 13). Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 3:56
  • @ShmuelBrill I think that's exactly the point, only in halacha do we say "Eilu VeEilu" but not Kabala, because as we see in the name- kabala it means there is only one true tradition unlike halacha. It's different from Beis Shamay because sometimes we do follow Beis Shammai or at least Bedieved sometimes, but here it isn't like that- it is always and always will be Arizal. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 3:58
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    though in hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=16013&st=&pgnum=328 the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that even after a "psak" in Kabalah there is a concept of Eilu Va'Eilu Divrei Elokim Chaim(in reference to the concept of Tzimtzum Kpshuta or not). Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 4:06

I think this is in regard to the teaching of the Ari, specifically, not Kabbalah in general. The Ari did not himself write down most of his teachings. Several of his disciples did so after his death. One of them was Rabbi Hayyim Vital, whose written versions of the teachings make up what are now generally known as Kitvey Ha-Ari. In the second preface of Rabbi Hayyim Vital printed at the beginning of Etz Hayyim, he writes:

דע כי קצת מחברינו כתבו להם ספרים מה ששמעו ממורי זלה"ה וזולתו על שמו וכולם כתבו הדברים בתוספת וגרעון כפי בחינת הכותבים וידיעתן ובהבנתן הניחו מקום לכמה קושיות לכן אין לסמוך על אותן הספרים וצריך להרחיק מהם

You should know that some of our colleagues have written for themselves books of what they heard from my teacher and other things in his name. And all of them wrote with additions and omissions according to the qualities of the writer. And in their understanding of things, they left open space for several difficulties. Therefore, one should not rely on those books and one should distance one's self from them.

So the source is Rabbi Hayyim Vital and the issue is that he felt he was the only accurate transmitter of the teachings of the Ari from among the circle of disciples.

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