Originally published in Tzvi M. Rabinowicz (ed.), The encyclopedia of Hasidism (1996), pp. 72-3.
Moses, known as the Remak, was one of the most profound and systematic exponents of the teachings of the Zohar and a leading figure in the circle of mystics for which sixteenth-century Safed in Palestine was renowned. Few details of his life are known with certainty. Little, for instance, is known of his wife beyond that he predeceased her, leaving her with a child of eight, named Gedaliah, who later made himself responsible for printing some of his father’s works.
He was undoubtedly one of the most prolific writers in the history of Jewish literature. No less than about thirty works, some of them extant only in manuscript, poured from his pen during his comparatively short life. Among his printed works were Pardes Rimonim, a detailed exposition of kabbalistic doctrines, consisting of thirteen “gates” and subdivided into chapters, published in Cracow in 1591; Elimah Rabbati, a detailed work of exposition on the main kabbalistic themes, published in Brody in 1881; Shiur Komah (measurements of height), an exposition of the doctrine of the Sefirot (Warsaw, 1883); and Tomar Deborah, an ethical treatise devoted to the kabbalistic significance and application of the doctrine of the Imitation of God, published in Venice in 1558.
Moses’ brother-in-law was R. Solomon Alkabetz. R. Yitzhak Luria refers to Cordovero as his “master and teacher.” Among his disciples were Elijah ben Moses de Vidas, Abraham ben Mordecai Galante, and Samuel Gallico.
L. Jacobs, Rabbi Moses Cordovero: The Palm Tree of Deborah.