History of Kabbalah: Rabash – Baal HaSulam’s Son and Successor

Rabash (Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, 1906 – 1991) was the last great Kabbalist. He was the eldest son of Baal HaSulam (Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, 1884-1954), author of the Sulam (ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar; and was his father’s closest disciple.

From a very early age, he studied the innermost depths of the wisdom of Kabbalah with his father. Baal HaSulam taught a group of students, but his letters reveal that he regarded Rabash as a special student, and not because he was his son. In fact, the fact that Rabash was his teacher’s son required him to make extra efforts during the studies, because to absorb the Kabbalistic wisdom, he had to see Baal HaSulam as a teacher rather than a father.

The day his mentor and father passed away, Rabash knew that he was to be the next link in the chain of great Kabbalists, and that he was to continue his father’s work in disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah. On the very day his father passed away, Rabash set out to continue his father’s work: The first thing he did was publish The Book of Zohar with Baal HaSulam’s commentary.

As fate would have it, Rabash turned out to be Baal HaSulam’s only disciple who continued his path. And like his father, Rabash also taught a group of students, transmitting to them all the Kabbalistic wisdom that he had accumulated during his life. He also continued his father’s legacy by writing books, most notably the book of Shamati (I Heard), a collection of talks he had heard from his great father. This book is a fundamental study manual for anyone wishing to learn Kabbalah in the modern age.

Another major work he produced is Shlavei HaSulam (Rungs of the Ladder), a five volume set of essays and articles. This text is a detailed description of all the possible states a person goes through on the way to attaining the spiritual world. In it, Rabash defined every possible state, step and action of a human being who develops spiritually by the method of Kabbalah. He also described the process of attainment: how to begin sensing the spiritual world.

For a modern Kabbalah student, these books are essential: they are the spiritual guide all along one’s development. When a student already develops the ability to sense the spiritual world, when he achieves even the minimal contact with the spiritual forces, he can look to the articles in Shlavei HaSulam to define his current state, understand what is happening on his spiritual level and how to continue the spiritual ascent.

In this regard, Rabash is a true teacher, even for those who are only now beginning to learn this wisdom. It’s because in Kabbalah, a teacher’s task is to prepare the student for developing his own connection with the Upper Force, the Creator.

In doing so, Rabash had completed Baal HaSulam’s work: he was “the last of the Mohicans,” the last great Kabbalist who attained the spiritual world individually. From here on, as The Book of Zohar states, only a group of people who aspire to attain the spiritual world can break through the “barrier” separating them from it.

Today, The Kabablah Education and Research Institute, Bnei Baruch, named after Rav Baruch Ashlag, continues his legacy. Just as the Zohar predicted, 1995 marked a turning point when many people became interested in the wisdom of Kabbalah. Today, millions of people who desire to attain this wisdom are following the path that Rabash has paved. People all over the world are studying Rabash’s teaching, the wisdom of achieving peace, joy, and balance with Nature. This is the great gift that Rabash has left for us – the opportunity to become eternal and perfect.