1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The source of our kabbalistic understanding..., Oct 25, 2022
This book is a MUST for the serious student of Kabbalah. Rabbi Ashlag revealed the secrets of kabbalah and taught in such a way that was not only appropriate for our generation, but would revolutionize this "secret wisdom" forever. Not an easy read, but definitely recommended as the student begins to delve into the source material of kabbalah.
I read and reread this book often. In fact, it's now sitting on my nightstand. A book like this also benefits from discussing it over, so find a reading partner!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
a fan of the hassidic masters, Feb 26, 2023
I chose to read the book because of the interest that teacher yedidah cohen has managed to present in classes, in print, on the internet, and even on israel radio.
the book contains excellent teachings but the language is complex and requires a good memory. Rabbi Ashlag was born in Warsaw, Poland and enriched jewish knowledge in erez yisroel before he passed away. we are the beneficiaries that his writings survive with disciples to help explain rabbi ashlag's universal wisdom and truth. Rabbi Ashlag held his vision before him at all times and is reflected in his introduction to the zohar. he seems to uphold the vision of peace, a vision of unity, and a vision of love. His understanding may be a key to enter into jewish kabbalistic wisdom. I recommend this book to all level of readers. it's a beginners book into kabbalah that will change you as you read on and persevere.
if any one has an interest in knowing what kabbalah leads to they need only begin by reading the excellent translation and comentary of Mark and Yedidah Cohen.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
An excellent intro to the Kabbalah system of Rabbi Ashlag, Feb 8, 2023
This book is both an introduction to the saintly life and teachings of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag (1886-1955) and a new translation of some of his basic teachings. Although there have been some unauthorized (and in some cases, spurious) translations of Ashlag's work over the years, none has been as accessible to the English-speaking reader as this book. The translations included here were done with the permission of Rabbi Yisroel Miller, who holds the Hebrew copyright to Ashlag's works, and who graciously allowed Mark and Yedidah Cohen to use the original materials. In their introduction, the Cohens discuss their choice(s)of words for this translation, and their struggle to remain true to Rabbi Ashlag's thought. They also include an excellent glossary of "Keywords, Definitions, and Concepts."
Yehudah Ashlag is now regarded as one of the greatest kabbalists of the 20th century. Born into a Hasidic family in Warsaw, he was a child prodigy whose interest in kabbalah was awakened at an early age. In their introduction, the Cohens write: "The story is told that at the ages of eleven, a book fell off a shelf and hit him on the head. His father picked it up and while replacing it, told him that it was a book for angels, not for people. But the young Yehudah decided that if it was printed, then it was certainly intended for human beings!" (p. 20) Thus began his secret study of kabbalah, along with the more usual course of yeshiva studies. At the age of 19 he was ordained as a rabbi by the rabbis of Warsaw, and served as a rabbi in that city for 16 years. In 1924 he moved to Israel, where, in 1926, he began writing his works on kabbalah.
Rabbi Ashlag's best-known work is "Ha-Sulam," (The Ladder), a complete translation of the Zohar from Aramaic into modern Hebrew, along with his own commentary on each paragraph. He also wrote a number of introductory books and articles on basic kabbalistic concepts. Due to extreme poverty, the original self-published editions were quite limited, but still circulated widely enough to attract both disciples and critics. By publishing this material, he went against the convention of the time, which was to limit access to advanced Torah scholars. But Rabbi Ashlag correctly perceived that Jews in our generation would not be satisfied to merely learn the outer forms. The time had come, Rabbi Ashlag believed, to make the inner teachings of Judaism accessible to everyone.
However, we should also note that he also stressed the importance of practicing the teachings in daily life, through Torah and mitzvot (the commandments). Unlike some of the "neo-kabbalists" who have co-opted his writings over the years, Rabbi Ashlag did not break with Orthodox Judaism. Rather, he sought to enrich the experience of the Torah life by revealing the inner meanings of the outer observances. Kabbalah is something a Jew does IN ADDITION TO traditional Torah observances, not "instead of."
Kabbalists from the "Jewish Renewal" school of thought may be surprised to learn that "Four Worlds Judaism" is not something unique to the Renewal movement. Rather, these ideas are clearly outlined in the works of Rabbi Ashlag, who, in turn, took them from the teachings of the 16th-century mystic, Isaac Luria. He, in turn, received them through the Zohar. In his "Introduction to the Zohar" (included in this book), Rabbi Ashlag clearly explains the Four Worlds (levels of existence: Action, Formation, Creation, Emanation) as well as many other basic concepts necessary for understanding kabbalah. That these teachings have now become so widespread is perhaps due to Rabbi Ashlag's courage in bringing them out of secrecy and into the light. I highly recommend this book as a first rung on the Ladder to greater love of God.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A definitive work for our times, Jul 9, 2023
Rabbi Ashlag is now generally recognized as THE major Kabbalist of the Twentieth Century. His work has been badly distorted and plagiarized in English translation but here at last is the essence of his teachings, portrayed in an accurate and authentic form.
The translators have done a superb job of rendering Rabbi Ashlag in readable English while at the same time being true to the original text. They have added extra chapters explaining the basic concepts of Kabbalah so that the reader can fully understand Rabbi Ashlag's teachings even if they have no previous background in Kabbalah.
The two Introductions to Kabbalah that are at the center of this book are miniature masterpieces, explaining the nature, meaning and purpose of human existence.
I heartlily recommend this book to anyone who wants a proper and authentic understanding of Kabbalah. It is a modern classic that one can come back to again and again, constantly finding inspiration and insight.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
a contemporary spiritual classic, May 11, 2023
"In "The Shadow of the Ladder", brings to the ordinary reader the concepts that the Creator is good and only does good, and that we can help manifest this goodness in our own lives.For me personally in "The Shadow of the Ladder" has changed my life completely.I recommend this book whole-heartily.
From a reader in Jerusalem.