The largest body of Kabbalistic works predating the "discovery"
Zohar by Rabbi
Moshe DeLeon in the 13th century, originated from a circle of Kabbalists
writing in Gerona, Spain. These adepts were disciples of Rabbi Isaac
the Blind, two of whom were especially prolific: R. Ezra ben Solomon and
his younger colleague, R. Azriel. Dan and others claim that these two mystics,
and their disciples, laid the foundation for all future Kabbalistic speculation;
for example, much of the terminology and basic ideas that prevailed in
the Kabbalah for the next seven hundred years were formulated in Gerona.
Rabbis Solomon and Azriel were among the first to commit the formerly oral Kabbalistic teachings to writing. However, this was not universally accepted as a positive development by other Kabbalists. Their teacher, Rabbi Isaac the Blind, for example, wrote them an angry letter demanding that Kabbalistic teachings be kept secret and protected from the public forum. (It should be noted that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, in his introduction to the Book Tanya, removed this ancient ban against public dissemination of the mystical Kabbalah.)
Many scholars, such as Dan and Idle, believe that the most important
works coming from the Gerona Circle were written by Rabbi Azriel. These
include the "Explanation of the Ten
Sefirot" and "Commentary to Talmudic
Legends." The text we are using for the former was published as a preface
to Meir Ibn Gabbai's "Sefer Derekh Emunah" in Warsaw (1850) as translated
by Ronald C. Kiener in Joseph Dan's anthology,
The Early Kabbalah,
Preface by Moshe Idel, Paulist Press, 1987.
R. Azriel on the Ten Sefirot
page historypage uploaded 5 June 1999