Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, The Ark of the Torah
biographical detail is known about R. Moshe, but his influence has been
incalculable. Most of his
relatively short life was spent in Safed, but his sublime personality,
powerful intellect and prolific literary output were felt in the entire
a beloved disciple of R.
Yosef Caro who in his collected Responsa included two by R. Moshe,
commenting on one of them. This
judge has penetrated to the depths of the law.
R. Moshe was one of the four who received semicha from R. Yosef
Berab. He served as Rosh
Yeshiva and as judge. But,
his fame rests on his contribution to Kabbalistic
literature and thought.
Although he did not begin studying Kabbalah seriously until he was 20, by the age of 27 he already completed one of the monumental classics of the Kabbalah. Pardes Rimonim, a synthesis of all the major topics in the field, divided into thirty two gates. His chief mentor was his brother-in-law, R. Shlomo Alkabez, the famed author of Lecha Dodi.
Shlomo, R. Moshe, and several other disciples would frequently subject
themselves to Banishments (Gerushin), when they would leave their
homes and engage in unstructured study of various verses and be granted
fresh insights. The theory
was that since the shechinah (Divine indwelling) was in galut (exile), one
could not fully comprehend Torah without leaving ones home.
These study sessions are collected in a volume called Gerushin. One of his most popular works is The Palm Tree of Deborah (Tomer
Devorah), which describes how a Jew may imitate his Maker in his daily
life. The Sweet Light (Or
Neerav) explains the necessity of studying Kabbalah.
In this volume R. Moshe criticizes those who study this subject
without prior Torah knowledge, pointing out that one must first study
before studying Kabbalah.
Elimah Rabbati and Shiur Komah
Moshe acknowledges the usefulness of philosophy but seeks to demonstrate
its inadequacy in solving the problem of the bridge between G-d and the
emphasizing the importance of logical analysis, R. Moshe points out that
complete knowledge is only possible with the eyes of the soul which yields
the inner sight (HaRiyah Hapnimis).
the publication of the Pardes Rimonim many Italian scholars traveled to
Safed to study with R. Moshe directly.
Paradoxically, R. Moshes magnum opus, Or Yakar (The Precious
Light), a comprehensive commentary on the Zohar
remained unpublished for 400 years. Publication
of this multi-volume work was finally begun in 1962 and completed in 1989.
At R. Moshes funeral the Holy Ari observed a pillar of light and his revered rebbe, R. Yosef Caro exclaimed, Here lies the Ark of the Torah.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.