Kitvei Arizal - the Writings of the Holy Ari
Without doubt, Rabbi Chaim Vital is most famous for his voluminous codification of the teachings of the Arizal. The process of codification entailed a substantial number of revisions, refinements and reorganizations by Rabbi Chaim himself, producing several versions. Around 5347 (1587 CE), Rabbi Chaim was in Safed where he fell gravely ill. His brother, Moshe, allowed R. Joshua ben Nun, a good friend of Rabbi Chaim, to borrow 600 pages of his manuscripts for a few days. The enterprising fellow hired 100 scribes and had them copy the manuscripts within three days. The copy was then further circulated among a select group of kabbalists. Understandably, these were filled with errors.
Subsequently his son, Rabbi Shmuel Vital, edited and re-arranged these copies in eight sections, known as the Shemoneh She'arim. He began circulating them in manuscript form only from around the year 5420 (1660 CE). It was eventually printed in seven volumes in Jerusalem 5623-5658 (1863-98 CE) with the support of the kabbalists of the Bet-El Yeshiva. Many kabbalists are of the opinion that this version, known as the mehadura kamma (the first version) is the most reliable version of Rabbi Chaim's writings.
The Shemoneh She'arim,
known collectively as Etz HaChaim, are:
>Before he died in 5380 (1620 CE) Rabbi Chaim ordered that all his manuscripts be buried with him. Several years later, after asking his permission in a kabbalistic rite known as sh'eilat shalom, Rabbi Abraham Azulai and Rabbi Yaakov Tzemach, colleagues and disciples of Rabbi Chaim, extracted the writings from Rabbi Chaim's grave and published them. This version is known as the mehadura batra (the later version).
> Rabbi Meir Poppers, a disciple of Tzemach, combined both versions, as well as others that were found elsewhere (apparently in Hebron and Italy) in the final edition that was completed in 5413 (1653 CE). A recent study by Yosef Avivi, entitled Binyan Ariel (Jerusalem 5747 / 1987 CE) has attempted to sort through the plethora of editions that appeared in the first hundred years after the passing of Rabbi Chaim Vital.
>In addition to the works mentioned above, there are several more of note:
>Sefer HaKavanot, divided
into two parts. The first deals with matters pertaining to blessing and
prayers; the second with matters pertaining to Shabbat and the Festivals
(Venice 5384 / 1624 CE)
>Sources: Shem HaGedolim; Encyclopedia l'Gedolei Yisrael; Encyclopedia Judaica.