Loria (or Luria) Isaac
Loria (Or Luria) Isaac (by the Jews ארי [Lion], the initials of אשנזי רבי יצחק), a noted rabbi and great expounder of the Cabala (q.v.), was born at Jerusalem in 1534, of a German-Jewish family. His father having died when he was a child, he was cared for by a rich uncle, and was dedicated to the study of the Talmud at Cairo. When twenty-four years of age he was considered one of the greatest Talmudists of that place. Unfortunately, however, Loria became an ardent admirer of the mystical writings of the Jews, and especially enraptured with the Sohar (q.v.), one of the Cabalistic works. The hermit of Cairo was the first to bring the intricate and confused system of the Sohar into order, unity, and congruity; he also made many valuable adlitions. A most remarkable feature of his views are the numerous divisions of his psychology, with its two sexes. Still, all these theories were, with him, only premises to lead on to a more important and practical branch in the Cabala, which he called the "world of perfection" (Olam ha- T'ikkun). He also held peculiar views on the fall of man. By reason of Adam's original sin, he held, the higher and the infernal souls, the good and the evil, came into confusion, and became intermixed with each other, a transmigration and separation of souls was thus a necessity. In addition to this he teaches the Superfaetatio. He pretended to have a full knowledge concerning the origin, relation, and ramification of souls; further, to possess the power and faculty to compel the spirits of the upper world to take their abode in the bodies of living men, in order to reveal to them what is going on in the upper world; further, to be able to read on every man's brow in which relation his soul stands to the higher worlds. In Cairo nobody interested himself in his mysticism, and he therefore emigrated in 1569 to Safet, the cabalistic Jerusalem, where the Cabala was esteemed as high as the Bible. His superior knowledge, faculties, and gifts gradually secured him the favor of the Cabalists, and Loria was soon surrounded by troops of young and old Cabalists, who came to listen to his new revelations. He subsequently formed a cabalistic community, who lived together apart from the non-Cabalists, and according to his prescriptions. After Loria's death (August, 1572), Vital Calabrese became his successor and gathered his productions, while another of his disciples, the Italian Israel Saruk, propagated his teachings in Europe. Indeed, it may be said that the influence of this Cabalist extended more or less over all the Jews of the globe, and many of them to this very day follow this great Jewish mystic in assigning to the Sohar equal value as to the Bible. It must be confessed, however, that by his influence he also called forth a revival in the Jewish communities everywhere, and a reaction in the pharisaic, lifeless prayers, while even upon the Christian theosophy, mysticism, and exegetical studies his influence was considerable. See Gritz, Gesch. der Juden, 9:437 sq.; 10:125; Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth. 3:138,145; Fürst, Bibliotl. Jud. 2:257 sq.