The surname Galanti was not actually his family name. They were known as Engel, but when the ministers of the time saw Rabbi Avrohom's sterling character and noble bearing they called him Galantimo (probably related to the word `gallant' as we know it) and the name remained the family's forever.
Rabbeinu was born in Tzfas where he learnt intensely with his brother Rabbi Moshe, who was a talmid muvhak of the Beis Yosef. He began with Toras haniglah and, once he was overflowing with Torah, he started going into the Toras hanistar with his Rabbi the Remak — Rabbi Moshe Cordovero.
When the Ari Hakodosh came up to Tzfas he became very close to Rabbeinu and would extol his greatness. He even was heard to say, "I am witness as heaven and earth that I've never seen someone like him without even one sin."
The above is brought by the Divrei Yechezkel zt"l of Shinov in his introduction to the sefer Zohorei Chamoh.
A story depicting the severity in the minutest detail of gezel is told in the sefer Yalkut Mei'am Loez (Vayikra page 288).
Rabbi Avrohom Galanti requested of the Arizal that he should instruct him in doing a tikkun hanefesh. At first the Arizal refused, saying, "Who am I to give a tikkun to this Torah great?" However when Rabbeinu pressed him, he agreed.
Rabbeinu was in for a shocking revelation. Looking at his forehead the Arizal said, "I see imprinted on his honor's forehead a stain of the sin of gezel!
Completely astounded, Rabbeinu returned home, dressed in sackcloth and ashes and began to make a mental account of all his deeds. Indeed how had he stumbled into the sin of stealing?
Rabbi Avrohom ran a factory that produced woven and spun fabrics. After finding nothing he could think of, he gathered together all his employees and asked them to work out how much he pays them for their work and if he owes them any money.
As one they answered that there lay in the wages they received such an abundant blessing that they were not particular as to exactly how much they were paid to the last penny.
"Now I know," exclaimed Rabbeinu, "This is the gezel of which I have been found guilty."
"From now on, those of you who take upon yourselves to keep an exact account of the wages I owe you may remain my employees. In the event that you all do not agree, I do not need this business and will close down the entire factory. I have no intention of transgressing Hashem's command for mere money.
"That's as far as the future is concerned," he continued. However I must still correct what has been done already."
He then laid down a bowl full of money and instructed them to each take what he felt he deserved and then to declare:
"I have received the full amount that the boss owes me, and if he owes me more I forgive him bimechiloh gemuroh."
Each worker in turn declared his full forgiveness and took nothing from the bowl, aside for one elderly woman who took two pennies.
Satisfied, Rabbeinu returned to the Arizal who told him, "You should know that this old woman is an exceptional expert in spinning and weaving yet she took wages equal to those of the other workers. Since she ought to have received more it was taken against you in Heaven. Now that you have corrected your misdeed, the impression of the aveiroh has disappeared from your forehead."
In his sefer Shem Hagedolim, the Chida wrote that he heard that it was Rabbi Avrohom Galanti who built the great cave over the tziyun of the Tanna Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. It is for this reason that no one has ever attempted to change the building at all, for it was built in complete holiness according to plans that are beyond our scope.
He also quotes from a ksav yad of Rabbeinu on the Zohar Hakodosh Parshas Bo: " . . . we give praise to Adon Hakol that it has been fulfilled in our days that all my friends and myself among them, we go to be mekabel pnei Rashbi three times a year to delve into his secrets, already for twenty years. And may Hashem Yisborach in his great mercy reckon it for us as though we ascended to Har Zion leheiro'os pnei ha'Adon Hashem."
One of his works that have been printed is the sefer Kol Bochim on Megillas Eichoh. In his introduction, Rabbeinu writes: "One who thinks into the events of the golus and the churban — does his soul not contract in grief? He'll spread his hands and cry out in a bitter voice. He'll be distraught and say, `Look what sin causes, what transgression causes,' and then he will confess all his sins and do teshuvoh."
He stresses a remarkable point — that he wrote this sefer so that we should study it on the right day and be moved by it to teshuvoh, "and not to read the book Yosifun whose reading has no purpose. For I have never seen someone aroused to return to his G-d from hearing those words."
(Actually, it is disputed whether one can rely on the truth of the book Yosifun or not. In his sefer Or Zorua Latzaddik, Rabbi Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin writes, "Its author was neither a prophet nor a baal ruach hakodesh; he only wrote what he saw and heard and according to how he felt, whereas Chazal were all baalei ruach hakodesh and knew everything that was not public knowledge too, and only the truth led them.")
To cite one or two of Rabbeinu's gems from his writing on Megillas Eichoh is most appropriate at this time of the year.
On the words (Eichoh 41), "You heard their mocking, Hashem, all their thoughts are against me," he writes:
"I heard that in Portugal (at the time of the Inquisition) when they led the precious children of Yisroel to be burned at the stake they would mock at them and tease them saying, `Call to G-d, to the One you call all the time, that He should save you.'
"The posuk alludes to this: `You heard them mocking Me with the Name of Hashem, their thoughts (the oppressor's) are against Me that chas vesholom I cannot save them.' "
In another chapter (3:31) he writes:
My teacher (the Remak) used to say that of all methods of teshuvoh in the world, the one that is the most effective in erasing the sins is bearing mockery, shame and humiliation. These are far more effective than all the fasts, whipping and self-affliction in the world, for if a person tortures himself he will become weak and will not be able to learn Torah, whereas with humiliation, his sins are atoned and he continues life.
Towards the end of his life, Rabbeinu moved to Chevron, city of the Ovos. There he was niftar and lies buried.