About The Author
Kabbalist Rav Michael Laitman, PhD, has a doctorate in philosophy and Kabbalah from the High Institute of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, and an MSc in bio-cybernetics from the Faculty of Biology and Cybernetics at the Institute of Science at St. Petersburg University.
In addition to his work as a scientist and a researcher, Rav Laitman has been studying and teaching Kabbalah for the past thirty years. As a Kabbalist, he has published more than thirty books and numerous academic essays on the subject, which have been translated into ten languages thus far.
Rav Laitman was the disciple and personal assistant of Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (the Rabash), the firstborn and successor of Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag, known as Baal HaSulam (Owner of the Ladder) for authoring the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar. For twelve years, Rav Laitman devotedly studied with the Rabash, and absorbed from him the teachings of Baal HaSulam.
Baal HaSulam is considered the successor of the Holy Ari, author of The Tree of Life. Yehuda Ashlag also paved the way for our generation to be admitted into Kabbalah. Thanks to his methodology, anyone can benefit from the knowledge within the (authentic sources of) Kabbalah, the legacy of the ancient Kabbalists.
Rav Laitman follows in the footsteps of his mentor and continues to fulfill his life’s mission: disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah to the world. After the Rabash’s demise in 1991, Laitman established Bnei Baruch, a group of Kabbalah students that studies, teaches, and implements the teachings of Baal HaSulam and his son, Baruch, on a daily basis.
Over time, Bnei Baruch has grown into an extensive international movement with thousands of members in Israel and around the world. Rav Laitman’s lectures are broadcast live daily on satellite and cable TV in Israel, in the U.S., and on the Internet at www.kab.tv.
Additionally, Laitman is founder and president of the Ashlag Research Institute (ARI), whose goal is to cultivate open discourse about Kabbalah and science. His extensive educational activities awarded him the title Professor of Ontology from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. In recent years, Rav Laitman has been cooperating with leading scientists in research concerning Kabbalah and contemporary science.
When asked how he fits both Kabbalah and science into his life, he replied:
“When I finished high school, I looked for a profession that would allow me to research the meaning of life. I felt that studying Nature through a scientific lens would help me find the answer. This is why I began to study Bio-cybernetics, a field of knowledge that researches life’s systems and the order that dictates their existence. I had hoped that by studying how we live, I would eventually find what we are living for. This is a question that finds its way into the heart of every young person, but dissipates in the rat race of day-by-day living.
“When I concluded my studies, I took a job at the Institute of Hematology Research in Leningrad. Even as a student, I was in awe of how organic cells sustain life, and how each cell is perfectly integrated in the whole body. It is customary to research cell structure itself and its different functions, and ask about the purpose of its existence and how its actions relate to the whole organism. However, I could not find an answer to my question about the purpose of the existence of the whole organism.
“I assumed that the body, like the cells within it, is part of a greater whole. But my attempts to research this hypothesis were repeatedly turned down. I was told that science does not engage in these questions.
“All this happened in the 1970’s in Russia. Disillusioned, I decided to leave Russia as quickly as I could. I had hoped to be able to continue the research that so captured my heart in Israel. And thus, in 1974, after being a “refusenik” (one whose request to leave Russia for Israel is refused) for four years, I finally arrived in Israel. Alas, even here I was only allowed to engage in research that was limited to the single cell level.
“I realized I had to look elsewhere for a place to learn about the overall systems of reality. Consequently, I turned to philosophy, then to religion, but found answers in neither. Only after long years of searching did I find my teacher. It was the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (the Rabash).
“I spent the next twelve years alongside the Rabash, from 1979 to 1991. To me he was “the last of the Mohicans,” the last great Kabbalist in the great dynasty of Kabbalists that endured for many generations. I did not move from his side that whole time; I wrote my first three books in 1983 with his support, and when he passed away, I began to develop the knowledge I had received from him, and to publish it. I considered this work then, as I do now, a direct extension of Rabash’s way and the realization of his vision.”