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Throughout the history of societal development, countless scientific discoveries have been made by men and women seeking solutions to a wide array of problems. Through experimentation, combined with a keen sense of curiosity, human beings have brought great benefits to their world from these discoveries, and the process is actually accelerating.

But what really is a discovery? It is not actually the creation of anything new; it is simply finding what is already there, even if that is a basic concept or idea. Historic inventions that have revolutionized our lives such as the Guttenberg press, the steam engine, and the computer were culminations of ideas already present and waiting to be acted upon. In other words, all great innovations, whether considered inventions or concepts, are like the last link in a series of links in a chain.

A TV program called “Connections” publicized the interconnection between what most people considered a unique event, and that event’s origins. The narrator led viewers through a series of events that, by the end of the program, were woven together to produce a final result, usually a major invention of some kind.

The origins, or roots of any subject are of great importance, and as a student of Kabbalah, I feel a deep responsibility to convey where the information contained in this book originated. Like everything that has ever been discovered, the roots of my discovery of Kabbalah do not lie in the words of a book, or from attaining some brilliant independent insight. Rather, my discoveries have been a process of regaining ancient information, provided by Kabbalistic writers who, for centuries, have transmitted this wondrous wisdom to all mankind.

Within the depths of each and every one of us lies a question. It concerns the very nature of our existence, and is usually preceded by a cavalcade of preliminary questions. This question remains dormant until a given moment, one that no one can predict. But when this question evolves to the point where it demands an answer, the response is always supplied through the help of an “end supplier” of that knowledge—a teacher.

My teacher, Kabbalist Rav Michael Laitman, PhD, is the author of twenty-three books on the subject of Kabbalah. His books are currently published in nine languages. I can only convey how this wondrous wisdom is transferred from teacher to student by dedicating a few pages of this introduction to Dr. Laitman’s story, as well as to those who were responsible for passing this book on to him.

Dr. Laitman’s journey into the wisdom of Kabbalah began like every other individual’s spiritual journey, with that same burning question deep within: “Why do I exist?” And like all of us, Dr. Laitman’s question was originally ignored or pushed aside by his efforts to lead a normal, comfortable life pursuing educational and business interests.

After immigrating to Israel in 1974, Dr. Laitman, a bio-cyberneticist by profession, led a reasonably normal life with the usual pursuits and hardships experienced by many Israelis in the 1970’s. Yet that burning question still came back to haunt him over and over again. One day in 1975 Dr. Laitman chose to attend a lecture on Kabbalah.

Afterwards, feeling a strong attraction to the Wisdom, Dr. Laitman sought a teacher. Yet even though he began lessons with several instructors, most early efforts were discontinued, as he could not find a teacher who would provide satisfactory answers to his questions. As he wrote in his book, Attaining the Worlds Beyond, “I began to search for real teachers. I looked through the entire country and took many lessons. But somehow, an inner voice kept telling me that all I came across was not the real Kabbalah, because it did not speak of me, but some distant abstract issues.”

In 1979, through a remarkable course of events that lead him to ask a total stranger where he might find instruction in Kabbalah, Dr. Laitman was directed to the man who would become his teacher and mentor, Rav Baruch Ashlag. His initial classes, held between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., began with one of the instructors reading an article, Introduction to The Book of Zohar. The instructor would read a paragraph, then explain what that paragraph meant. And so Dr. Laitman’s initial studies began.

One day, months after beginning his lessons, Dr. Laitman was asked if he could drive the main elder of his study group to see a doctor in Tel Aviv. That main elder was Rav Baruch Ashlag, son of the great Kabbalist, Rav Yehuda Ashlag. During this drive and on subsequent drives to the doctor, Rav Ashlag began instructing Dr. Laitman in Kabbalah. Even when Baruch Ashlag was eventually put in the hospital, Dr. Laitman would go to the hospital at 4:00 a.m. and study with him there. What felt like a rather precarious beginning became a strong relationship between Kabbalist and student that would last for the next twelve years.

The following two excerpts describe his teacher as well as his teacher’s teacher.

Rav Baruch Ashlag – Rabash – (1907-1991)

Rav Baruch Ashlag was the next phase in the evolution of Kabbalah after his father, Rav Yehuda Ashlag. Baruch Ashlag was the eldest son of Yehuda Ashlag. Born in Poland in 1907, he came with his father to Israel at the age of 15. He always worked simple jobs: construction worker, road works, a shoemaker, or a clerk. He was never ashamed to do such menial tasks, treating them as a necessity for survival in this world. He was offered quite a few high offices, but never accepted any of them.

He was very knowledgeable in Torah and Talmud, but he never served as a rabbi. Instead, he spent his entire life following in the footsteps of his father and advancing in the study of Kabbalah. When his father passed away, Baruch Ashlag took his place and accepted his father’s disciples, continuing his work by publishing The Zohar with his father’s commentaries, as well as writing several other books.

I had already been in search of a teacher for four years when I came to Rav Baruch Ashlag in 1979. I was studying by myself and with a variety of “Kabbalists.” I went a long way knowing I needed to study Kabbalah, but not knowing who could teach me. I knew this was the place for me from the first lesson with Rav Ashlag. I remained with him for twelve years, until his death. When he died I was there at his bedside.

Rav Baruch Ashlag followed in the footsteps of his father. He wrote five books of articles, called Shlavey HaSulam ( The Rungs of the Ladder), where he successfully expressed all the inner situations of a person who is on the way for the attainment of the Upper World. He studied every possible situation, every step and movement that we make on the way, explained the exodus to the spiritual world, and how to feel and live in it.

He constructed a system for the attainment of the Upper World for the individual, something that previous Kabbalists did not do. The uniqueness of his articles is especially significant for those who want to attain the spiritual world. Without these, it is impossible to even imagine an exit to the spiritual world.

He also left us a manuscript of sermons he had heard from his father, which he called Shamati (I Heard). Using these articles, one can define one’s situation, its characteristics and how to continue the spiritual ascent in that situation. The book is the basis for all the situations in the spiritual worlds and their many combinations, all of which can affect the soul of one who aspires to attain them.

The works of Rav Baruch Ashlag are essential to anyone who wishes to open to the spiritual world. After the death of Rav Ashlag, a group was established carrying his name – Bnei Baruch (The Sons of Baruch) – that continues to study in his steps.

Rav Baruch Ashlag obtained this great wisdom through his father, Yehuda Ashlag, also known as Baal HaSulam. The following excerpt from Interview with the Future provides information on this great Kabbalist.

Rav Yehuda Ashlag, Baal HaSulam (1885-1954)

Neither The Zohar, nor the writings of the Ari were intended for a systematic study of the Kabbalah. Although the Kabbalah is indeed a science, before the 20th century there was never an actual textbook. In order to fill in the gaps, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, the great Kabbalist who lived in Jerusalem from 1922 until his death in 1954, wrote a commentary on The Zohar and the texts of the Ari. He evolved while writing the commentaries, and published his primary work, Talmud Eser Sefirot (The Study of the Ten Sefirot), considered the predominant study book of our time.

It is only in our days that the great Kabbalist, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, established the comprehensive and concise method suitable for all souls that descend to this world. Rav Yehuda Ashlag was born in Warsaw in 1885 and came to Jerusalem in 1922. He was appointed the rabbi of one of the neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and began to write The Study of the Ten Sefirot. He gave his composition this name because the spiritual world and this world, the souls in the Upper Worlds and indeed the entire universe, are all comprised of ten Sefirot.

This textbook of six volumes contains more than two thousand pages. It includes everything that Kabbalists have written since the dawn of time, from the writings of Adam (the First Man), Abraham the Patriarch, Moses, Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai to those of the holy Ari. This book displays Kabbalah in a concise manner, fit for study. Thus, we have with us today everything needed to learn how creation was made, how it comes down to us and how we can influence it from below all the way to the highest world, to have the future we desire. This is why today Kabbalists study only the books of Rav Yehuda Ashlag.

When we learn from The Study of the Ten Sefirot under the right conditions, meaning in the right way and under the right guidance, the Upper World opens. There is a special approach to the material in the book, and a special key that explains how to read the text, to make it open correctly. When we study in this way, we begin to feel the universe, to see and feel in every sense what exists beyond the range of our senses, because our senses are corporeal and limited, and can perceive nothing beyond their scope.

Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag writes in the introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot that, thanks to the permission he received from Above to write the book, anyone can attain the highest point of soul evolution in our world, and anyone can attain equivalence of form with the Upper Force, i.e. the Creator. We can attain the highest spiritual levels while living in this world, because the body no longer stands as a barrier between us and our souls. It doesn’t matter if our soul is clothed in a body or not, because we can freely move from world to world, existing in all the worlds simultaneously, in a state of eternity and perfection. Then, we become timeless, motionless, and spaceless.

Baal HaSulam writes that by using his method, all these situations are attainable; he writes that his method is suitable for everyone without exception. Besides The Study of the Ten Sefirot, he also wrote a commentary on The Zohar and on the writings of the Ari. Baal HaSulam writes about himself, that he is a reincarnation of a soul that starts with the First Man, continues through Abraham the Patriarch, Moses, Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, the Ari and finally to himself. Because of this, he could take the compositions of these Kabbalists, process them, and present them to us in way that suits our generation.

Although Baal HaSulam lived in our generation, what happened to his writings is much the same as what happened with The Zohar and the writings of the Ari: some of his writings were concealed and are only now being published.

And so the knowledge has been passed from one Kabbalist to the next. Through countless generations this great wisdom has flowed from giver to receiver, from mouth to mouth, and from teacher to student. This great legacy of teaching from Rav to disciple is presently expressed through two organizations, Bnei Baruch, carrying the name of Baruch Ashlag, and the Ashlag Research Institute (ARI). I am immensely honored to belong to both groups.

Why is Kabbalah learned in such a manner, passed down from teacher to student? The answer is simple: there is no other way. Kabbalah is a method, and that method is instruction in a process, not instruction in a philosophy or a religion. It is not a matter of discovery, but rather a matter of learning that process. For this reason, no one can discover the spiritual world alone.

Throughout the pages of this book, you will read words that I cannot claim, for the teachings within this book were handed down to me just as assuredly as they were presented to my teacher by his predecessors. This book is made up of the information from many articles, classes, private discussions, and books by my teacher Michael Laitman, or from those who have instructed him. True authorship of such information can never really be claimed, and even the style in which the material is presented has been strongly influenced by the style of that source of information.

This information is available to anyone and everyone who has the desire to open a book, to turn a page, and to listen to a lesson. Certainly one may pay a small price for the paper it is written on, as well as the cover that binds the pages of Kabbalistic texts, but the wisdom contained within those texts is priceless.

Why was this book written? Thomas Jefferson was once asked for why the Declaration of Independence was written. His reply—“To place before mankind the common sense of the subject in such terms as to command their ascent”—describes my exact purpose for this humble work.

The reader should not consider the book a textbook in learning Kabbalah, but rather an accurate introduction to the Wisdom. For readers wishing to further their studies in Kabbalah, Bnei Baruch provides a massive amount of information at the largest internet site in the world,

Bnei Baruch and the Ashlag Research Institute are non-profit organizations with a singular goal: to spread the Wisdom of Kabbalah throughout the world to all of humanity. Classes are provided to all levels of students via the internet and are absolutely free. Texts are currently provided in twenty-two languages.

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