Baal HaSulam – Rav Ashlag

Baal HaSulam – Rav Ashlag

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Rav Yehudah Leib Ashlag known as the Baal HaSulam after his magnus opus called HaSulam, the ladder commentary to the Zohar, was the most famous modern day Kabbalist. While he was born in Poland into Hasidic dynasties, including Belz. He chose to emigrate to Israel in 1922, and learned with such luminaries as Rav Kook and the giants of Torah in his day. He became the Rabbi of the Givat Shaul section of Jerusalem, himself teaching some well known Rabbis like Rabbi Brandwein, one of the first to settle in the Old City.

Rav Ashlag often stressed the importance of the study of Kabbalah even over what he called practical Torah, like the Oral Torah (Talmud). He felt that our ignoring of this ancient wisdom was holding back Moshiach.

To show you how significant a concept this was in his own life, there is a story that at seven years old, he himself would hide pages of Etz Chaim the work by the Arizal within the tractate of Talmud was supposed to be learning.

While we should never ignore the practical texts of Torah, which should include daily learning in halakha, we should spend as much time as we can in this day learning as much of the ancient wisdom of Kabbalah that is possible for us. It is the wisdom that will allow one to overcome his yetzer hara, ego, evil inclination, or whatever name one chooses for the enemy of our souls.

This is the way that we can transform ourselves, help to gather the holy sparks, and bring true Tikun Olam.

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