“I am still unclear as to where you stand on Bnei Baruch. Do you think the whole thing is a waste of time or even harmful? Do you think all the Laitman’s writings are useless? What was the cause of your change of heart? You say, “but at some point I felt that I’m not advancing anymore.” Does that mean that you made a certain amount of progress but were unable to progress further – or that it is a completely wrong and false path?I am very confused and agitated – partly because I was so hopeful that BB may have been the real thing. I am so tired of being disappointed.”
“Is Laitman’s way of teching Kabbalah what Rebbe Baruch Ashlag would had wanted to be?
Laitman claims he was Rabash’s personal assistant, and that he (Rabash)left a notebook labeled “shamati” (that contained Rabash’s annotations of Baal HaSulam’s teachings) to Laitman on his deathbed, Is this true? What is this notebook?”
I keep getting messages on this topic and since the same question seem to be repeating itself I will try to be more precise with my answers.
Fist of all I would like to start by putting forward an important disclaimer.
It’s written in Gemara “Make yourself a Rav, buy yourself a friend and always judge others favorably”. A lot has been written by both Baruch Shalom and Yehuda Ashlag on the first portion of this statement (i.e. Rav/Friend) and with your permission I won’t repeat it, but I do want to stress the third point – always judge others favorably. What this statement implies (and I’m merely repeating the explanation of sages to it, so you’re free to verify it yourself) is that you’re not to judge unfavorably different ways to serve HaShem. It is said “Brati Yetzer Ra, Barati Toraht Tavlin ki Ha-Or She-ba Machzrio Le-Mutav” – “I created evil inclination and I created Torah as its medicine, as the light (hidden in it) returns a person to Creator. Therefore anyone who is pursuing Torah to cleave to the Creator is on the right path – Kabbalah is a shortcut to get there faster, but by no means the ONLY way to get to this stage. You can read more on this point in Introduction to Ten Sefiros by Baal HaSulam.
With that said I personally respect anyone who follows the way of Torah to achieve this goal, thus I don’t judge individuals and groups that follow a certain method. The problem with Bnei Baruch is that they claim to follow Sulam’s methodology, where in fact they follow their own version of Sulam. Frankly saying I would have cared less, but by presenting their own framework as Sulam’s approach they push away people from Kabbalah and shed negative light to anyone who is associated with Ashlag’s groups. As one of the students of Rabash said to me after looking through BB site and I quote “It’s a shame, a shame to the whole group of RABASH – we should tear or garments and seat on the floor to mourn the group”.
Here is a short version of key disconnects between Laitman and original Sulam’s methodology. All key points can be easily checked in various Introductions by Rav Ashlag, though it would be hard if you can’t read Hebrew and would have to rely on the translation of BB.
- Machsom. How many times during the lesson do you hear this word? 100? maybe 1000? maybe more? The goal of BB is to cross machsom and to do it NOW! 90% of lesson is spent talking about means to cross machsom and people run around like crazy freaks trying to break through it. Very nice, the only problem is that you will NEVER find this term in ANY books by Sulam. Surprised? Hugh – so was I. Go ahead, pick a book that has original articles and find at least one occurrence of this word.
- Other “people beyond machsom” – don’t you find it peculiar that Laitman is the only person out of many students of Sulam that managed to cross this “machsom”? If we were talking about a math here, I might have agreed that most of the class can fail when a certain course it taken, but all of them except one?! Now, there is something also to remember – both Yehuda Ashlag and RABASH where on the highest level of spiritual ladder. They were what normal people call “Tzadikim” (righteous). Do you really think that after investing years and years into their students only one of them managed to cross so called barrier into spirituality??? Come on, you can do better than that! And the claim that Laitman is the only one that crossed the barrier and he doesn’t see anyone around really makes an interesting doubts about the person’s psychological state
- Enough with machsom, now to the point that will be unpleasant to most of the readers unfortunately. If you didn’t know it yet, Kabbalah is series of commentaries on Torah. It is the 4th and the deepest level of Torah of information that is concealed behind stories of Jewish people (PARDES – orchard, also means Pshat-simple meaning, Remez-hint, Drash-in-depth, Sod-secret [Kabbalah]).Whether you like it or not, Torah was given to Jewish people and therefore you must be Jewish in order to be able to study it. Now, before you start accusing me of discrimination, simply refer to the Book of Zohar which has extremely well defined warning that clearly states prohibition to teach Torah to anyone who is not Jewish. According to Zohar, a non-Jew who studied even the SIMPLIEST concepts of Torah is subject to death, and the person who taught him Torah is transgressing fundamental Torah commandment of not putting an obstacle in front of blind person. If Zohar is so blunt here (and this point isn’t been brought as an allegory but as very precise instruction!) can you realize now what damage you’re causing yourself – whether you’re a non-Jewish student or Jewish member of Bnei Baruch that distributes “Kabbalah” to masses?
- Wait, but Jewish and Israel doesn’t really mean being Jewish but merely implies that your “good forces” take over the “bad ones” and mitzvos don’t have to be observed as they’re meaningless in this word (oops, except maaser – tithe of your salary that must be paid to Bnei Baruch”)! I love this statement the most and this is the key contradiction between Beni Baruch and Sulam. Yes, there is always a deeper meaning in everything that you read in Torah, BUT none of the four layers of Torah contradict each other – they complement each other! Thus when Kabbalah refers to Jewish/Israel it indeed refers to a specific forces within us and the universe, however it also uses the word for its simplistic and basic meaning! Thus, saying that mitzvos and requirements of being Jewish to observe them and study Torah & Kabbalah (which is part of the mitzvos if you didn’t know yet) is simply contradictory to the Torah itself! Same as stating that Kabbalah is a science and Creator is some ambiguous force in the universe. Look at Yehuda Ashlag, look at his son RABASH, look at ARI – they were so focused on perfecting their mitzvos to the smallest details that they went to extreme! And now Laitman comes and says that Mitzvos in this world aren’t really necessary? Did he surpass ARI and Sulam already to make such statements??
I can continue this list with additional points, but I think I covered the fundamental ones. Laitman is a great psychologist and a very smart person that knows how to motivate and control people. By being in the group you will start have certain “feelings” that might lead you to conclusion that you’re advancing, yet it will be far from the truth. You can reproduce the same feeling of Unity by going camping with your close friends – yet it doesn’t mean that you advanced spiritually.
You don’t need to believe anything I wrote here, moreover I encourage you to check these facts yourself. I merited to find people who studied with Rabash and talked to them. Once I heard their story I saw how far Bnei Baruch deviated from Sulam – now that I started to study with Rabbi I see how absurd their concepts are, but when you’re in the group and have peer pressure that brainwashes you on daily basis you simply can’t account to where you are and where you’re going. If everything that I written here doesn’t make sense, consider only one simple fact – no one except Bnei Baruch considers Laitman anyone worthy of even discussion – you’ll not find anyone outside of BB that believes that he knows what he is talking about. You have millions of people and thousands of years of proven methodology – do you really want to put your life in risk by trying something that only one person seems to know and comprehend when the rest of the world claims him to be a lunatic? Risk is always part of us, but are you trully willing to Risk your soul? We’re not talking about fiscal damage here (ignoring 10% of your salary for the moment) – we’re talking about eternity.
My apologies if I offended anyone.