Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (1884-1953), Baal Hasulam (Owner of the Ladder), name attributed for his Sulam (ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar. Baal Hasulam dedicated his life to interpretations and innovations in the wisdom of Kabbalah, disseminating it in Israel and throughout the world. He developed a unique method to the study of Kabbalah, by which any person can delve into the depth of life and reveal the roots of reality.
Baal Hasulam was born in Warsaw, Poland, 1884. At the age of nineteen he was ordained as a rabbi by the greatest rabbis of Warsaw, and for sixteen years he served as a Dayan (Jewish orthodox judge) and a teacher in Warsaw.
Baal Hasulam’s teacher was Rabbi Yehoshua of Porsov. In 1921, Baal HaSulam immigrated to Israel and settled in the Old City of Jerusalem. The word of his coming quickly spread among Jews who emigrated from Poland, and he soon became known as an authority in Kabbalah. Gradually, a group of students formed around him, attending Kabbalah lessons. Later on Baal HaSulam moved to the neighbourhood Givat Shaul in Jerusalem, as the Rabbi.
Baal Hasulam spent the years 1926-1928 in London. During his time in London he wrote the commentary to the Ari’s Tree Of Life— Panim Meirot uMasbirot, which he printed in 1927. Throughout his stay in London, Baal Hasulam conducted extensive correspondence with his students in Israel, which were assembled in 1985 in a book titled Igrot Kodesh (Letters of Sanctity).
In 1933 Baal Hasulam published the tractates Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah), HaArvut (The Bond), and HaShalom (The Peace).
He’s two major works, are Talmud Eser Sefirot (The Study of the Ten Sefirot), a commentary on the writings of the Ari, and Perush Hasulam (The Sulam Commentary) onThe Book of Zohar. The publications of the 16 parts (in six volumes) of Talmud Eser Sefirot began in 1937. In 1940 he published Beit Shaar HaKavanot (The Gatehouse of Intentions), with commentaries to selected writings of the Ari. Baal Hasulam wrote a series of introductions that prepare the student for proper study of Kabbalistic texts. Some of these introductions are Preface to the Book of Zohar, Introduction to the Book of Zohar, Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah, Preface to the Sulam Commentary, General Preface to the Tree of Life, and Introduction to Talmud Eser Sefirot.
In 1940, Baal Hasulam published the journal HaUma (The Nation), a journal that placed the fundaments of the ideals to build a rectified society in Israel. Persuh Hasulam on the Zohar was printed in 18 volumes in the years 1945-1953. In 1953, he completed the writing Perush Hasulam and Talmud Eser Sefirot bringing various additions, but did not begin writing new books.
On his death, the Day of Atonement, and during the words of the prayer ”אורך ימים אשביעהו”, his soul departed.