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Michael Laitman, PhD

The Great Commentator

Born in 1884 in Warsaw, Poland, Baal HaSulam studied Kabbalah with the Rabbi Yehoshua of Porsov, and absorbed written and oral law. He became a judge and teacher in Warsaw as early as the age of 19. In 1921, he immigrated to Israel (then called Palestine) with his family (including his first-born son, Baruch, who later succeeded him) and became the rabbi of Givat Shaul in Jerusalem. While writing many other important works, such as The Study of the Ten Sefirot, he also began The Sulam Commentary on The Zohar in 1943. He finished just 10 years later, in 1953. He died the following year and is buried in Jerusalem.

Baal HaSulam is the only one who succeeded in composing complete (and updated) commentaries of The Zohar and the writings of the Ari since they were first written. His books allow Kabbalists to study ancient texts in modern language and are indispensable tools for those who aspire to achieve spirituality.

In his article “Time to Act,” Baal HaSulam explains that before the printing press, when scribes were in vogue, no one would bother bending their back to copy a book with wild claims; it wouldn’t be worth the time, expense, and candle wax. As bookmaking advanced, theories and connections to Kabbalah were enhanced by authors, which were easily published.

With many people trying to define it, an atmosphere of frivolity developed around Kabbalah. Therefore, Ashlag’s goal in his writing was to reveal what he could of its true essence.

In his “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Ashlag says that he must write Kabbalah books because every generation has its own needs, and therefore its own books. Our generation, too, requires books that we can all understand. Since the books of the Ari were written hundreds of years ago, and The Book of Zohar was written almost 2,000 years ago, he has taken it on himself to interpret them for us. This way, we can come to know what these ancient Kabbalists knew, and experience the spiritual worlds for ourselves.


Off Course

These days, Kabbalah has attained a kind of popularity and notoriety often ascribed to the latest fads. If that is the reason for your study, you will likely be disappointed for two reasons. It does not provide easy answers, and to approach it as the latest fad is to completely misunderstand what it’s about. On the other hand, if you study it with an honest desire to come in touch with your spiritual nature, you’re likely to be thoroughly satisfied by this study. However, even if you’re looking for easy answers and something resonates here, that’s all for the good as well.


Call of the Hour

But the spreading of Kabbalah is happening today not only as a result of the appearance of incorrect and inaccurate books. Ashlag explains, in his “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”and in many of his essays, that the spreading of Kabbalah is a must today. He explains that now is the time that Prophet Jeremiah referred to when he said, “for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.”

We can take our time and let it happen naturally, but Ashlag says that such a decision will cost us heavily, because we would be compelled to evolve into spirituality by nature itself. He says that the other option is to study what nature wants of us and do it. This, according to Ashlag, will not only prevent the suffering he was talking about, but will show us how to receive the pleasures that the Creator wants to give us. Ancient Kabbalists called these two choices in due time” or “accelerating time.”

Today, according to Ashlag, it is no longer a mere “good idea” to share the knowledge; it is the call of the hour. Hence, without further ado let’s dive into the heart of the wisdom and its concepts.

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