Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the Holy Arizal (1534—July 25 [5 Av] 1572), was a mystic and sage whose teachings revolutionized the way we view the Kabbalah, G‑d, and our world. He was known, among other things, for his ability to arouse people to return to a Torah way of life. Hundreds of years after his passing, in wondrous ways, this holy man is still leading people toward Jewish connectedness.

Consider the following true story I heard from a friend:

After serving in the Israeli army and visiting India, I moved to Miami, Florida. Divine providence arranged that the apartment I rented was previously occupied by a religious Jew. “Accidentally,” he had left behind a book with the Arizal’s commentary on Chumash (the Five Books of Moses). For whatever reason, I kept the book in the living room above my television set. Every night, I read from this book. I wasn’t able to understand everything. But I absorbed a good deal, and it spoke to me. Every night, I would study some more. That forgotten volume awoke within me the stirrings of Jewish awareness that brought me back to my roots.

But this is not the end of the story. His future wife also found her way to Torah Judaism due to the Arizal’s influence. This is her story:

I was a secular girl living in Carmiel, Israel. I had very little connection to Judaism, but one of my friends had become religious. When she was pregnant with her first child, the doctors suspected complications, and they prescribed bed rest in the hospital for the months leading up to the birth. She was very worried, and she asked me to pray for her near the Arizal’s tomb in Safed. I had never prayed before, certainly not at a grave, but for my friend’s sake I agreed.

Soon afterward, however, I regretted my promise. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to make this effort; my belief in prayer wasn’t very strong at that point in my life.

I decided to go to the bus station and wait until the first bus arrived. If it was going to Safed, I would take it as a sign from heaven that I should go. Otherwise, I would return home.

Amazingly, the first bus that arrived was going directly to Safed. I later learned that there were only two buses going to Safed from my hometown every day.

Once in Safed, I stood before the Arizal’s grave, and it began to rain. The atmosphere suddenly made me very emotional. I prayed for my friend, for a healthy and easy childbirth, and then I began praying for myself. I had my own issues and needs, and my heart opened up in prayer. It was the first time I had ever prayed. I said, “G‑d, if You hear what I am saying, and if You care about me, help me. Show me the way . . .” I cried, I prayed, my tears mixing with the drops of rain. This was the turning point in my life. This day led me on my path of teshuvah (returning to observant Judaism).