The Four Steps of Sulam

In Introduction to Talmud Eser HaSefirot, Baal-HaSulam brings down the key steps in the spiritual ladder that one follows to attain HaShem. His explanation is very complex and I hope that this diagram along with brief summary can help you understand this approach. Click on Diagram to see it in full mode.



Step A – called Hester Kaful, i.e. Double Concealment of face of HaShem. This step is alluded to in the book of Devarim when Moses tells people that if they continue doing evel deeds HaShem will hide His face (Step B), and a sentence later he follows up by saying … and if you proceed with idolatry I’ll “Hester Astir” – I’ll hide [twice the same word is repeated] My face from you. Baal HaSulam explains that in this phase a person doesn’t believe that HaShem rules the world and therefore the person attributes everything that happens to him to forces of nature of unfortunate or fortunate sequence of events around him. This phase is called “Rasha Gamur” – Complete Wicked person and every sin that person performs by being in this stage in considered to be intentional.

Step B – called Hester Echad, i.e. Single Concealment. It’s also called in Kabbalah “Hester Panim ve-Achoraim Megulot”, i.e. The Face [of HaShem] is hidden, while His back is visible”. Baal HaSulam brings a mashal (example) about a person who went to meet his friend. The person sees his friend from behind and therefore while he suspects that it is indeed his friend, he isn’t completly sure. This explains the state that the majority of people are at right now – we logically acknowledge that HaShem exists and rules the universe, however we still have hard time to accept that everything that happens to us and around us is done by Him. We see good people having hardships in their lives while wicked are getting richer, we see people dying in masses (Holocost for example) while crooks get away with their evil deeds and while we suspect that HaShem exists we can’t attribute these events to His ruling of the world. This phase is called “Rasha Eino Gamur” – Incomplete Wicked person and every sin that this person performs during this stage is considered non-intentional.

Step C – called Gilui Alef, i.e. First Revelation of HaShem’s face. When person reaches this stage he is no longer logically comprehends that HaShem rules the world, but he CLEARLY SEES IT. Therefore at this stage, the person ascends beyond material concepts of space and time and clearly sees that everything that HaShem does is done via the system of Reward & Punishment. Baal HaSulam explains that a person can’t reach this level by himself as it is beyond his abilities – only when a person invested all his strength in Torah & Mitzvos and has done absolutely everything that was humanly possible to serve HaShem, then HaShem lifts him up and brings him to this level. Baal HaSulam also brings down a pasuk that says that HaShem becomes guarantee for this person and guarantees that this person never will fall from this level. Baal-HaSulam explains this point by the fact that once person ascended beyond limitations of our physical world, he can clearly see what tremendous benefit each mitsva brings to him and what spiritual damage each sin brings to his soul, thus as any normal person wouldn’t cut his own hand and will always rush to get a million dollar, Tzadik will never pass on a mitsva and will run away of any possibility of the sin as we would have ran from fire. Thus Tzadik comes from the word “Matzdik”, i.e. justice, as he always justifes the ways of HaShem as he can clearly see that they’re being done via the system of Reward & Punishment. At this phase all his privious Intentional Sins convert to be Unintentional Sins on the merit of this stage. The person called “Tzadik Eino Gamur” Non-complete Tzadik when he reaches this stage.

Step D – called Gilui B, i.e. Full Revelation of HaShem’s face. When person reaches this stage in addition to seeing that HaShem rules the world via the system of reward and punishment, he can also see that each action of HaShem comes as pure love toward each one of us – regardless of how good or evil a human being is. At this stage the person sees the picture of our universe completely – all the spiritual roots & worlds in addition to full comprehension that HaShem only does good to His creations. A person on this stage is called “Tzadik Gamur” – complete Tzadik and his previos sins are being converted to MERTIS as person was able to overcome them and get to this highest stage of spiritual development.

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3 Responses to The Four Steps of Sulam

  1. Out of all four steps the one that is called Lehashpia almanat Lekkabel should be very much understood, because it can grab the person for a long time and not to let him to progress. The diffrence between it and the next one Lehashpia almanat Lehashpia is in the field of involvment of our personal Pkhina D, which means, that we may go to Kabbalah lessons and to try to study all our free time kabbalaistic texts, but this work will be neally and without any spiritual results, because we study Kabbalah as a kind of science and not us an instruction for our own correction.

    The difference between studing kabbalah like a science and as the art of our existence in harmony with the purpose of the creation is, that when we study it as a science we may like it or not, we my enjoy its studing or not, and we may understand something or not, but scientific study of kabbalah is in the field of human ambitions of being able or not to understand something.the studing kabbalah as the only way for our survival is absolutly diffrent, because when you FEEL that it is the only way to servive for you and your family and our people and all the humanity, your attitude is as life or death, and you may not say that ” these are very high levels, and we can’t understand them yet” you put all your abilities, you are ready for all hardships, because there is nothing more important, then survival, except the form of the servival.

    This form is made from the original parts of Ratzon Lekkabel by taking each and every wish a given to your by creator,and it means that we start with the right line= we belive that the wish is goven by Creator Himself, BUT at the next moment we must take the responsibility for it as if it were our own wish. We have to analyse each and every bit of it to separet its positive sides and to strengthen them and to separete its negative side and to look for the solutions= this is the work by enlargment of the left line. And when we see that we ourselves are anable to change our negative side we make Hakkarat HaRaar, but not theoretial, but practical one, because by analysing the effects of our negative performance on our life on the life of our children and family and the whole humanity, we now can pray for help from the bottom of the Heart. and here is the differentce, We may speak on the part of somebody and we can repeat somebody, else words as if we understand something in there meaning, BUT we can pray from the bottem of somebody’s else heart, because for me to pray for somebody else I first should feel his pain as may own and only then the prayer will be real.

    So we see that studing Kabbalah as a science involves your mind only , but studing Kabbalah as the way for survivel, as the art of life involeves you Heart, because it isn’t said that my stone mind will be changed into meat mind ,but it is said that my stone heart will be changed into Lev Bassar.

    So if the study of Torah= Kabbalah doesn’t make you feel the study in your heart, if it doesn,’t make you cry, scream from pain, from regret for all you done to your family, nation and humanity in general, if you teacher looks indifferent, and only get nervous by your questions, you should know that you are stuck in Lehashpia almenat Lekkabale foem and sometimes it can be the most difficult form of Hester Kafful, because one thing not to be involved in Torah study, you at least have a chance to beging this study, another form is when you study, and study authentic texts and in group, and with the teacher, but you don’t realise that you are sitting in such strong Klippa which is Klippa to the work Lehashpia almanat Lehashpia, that you may not awake for a long time. SO if you finished your lesson with the feeling of unbelievable breathtaking ascend and in a minute after it felf the most difficult descend, you worked with your Bkina D, but if you feel descend during the lesson and ascend after it, that thank G-d the lesson is over this is the mark to pay your attention, because you may fool yourself easily by saying that you felt “down” during the lesson, not because it wasn’t interesting, not because you were told again all the same phrases which you here or read all the time, and you are sick and tired of them, but you may find out all kind of logical explanations, but listen to your heart it is very difficult to cheat and listen to your instincts, if during the lesson you thought of all other kind of things, if you felt that but for them group, you wuold satnd up and go away, that you yourself have nothing inside you exept iretation , and you just dream when it is all over, you are in most dangerous form of Klippa, which says to you that it is enough, you are just human, the moment you accept this agument of being human and so allowered to behaive yourself us the rest of the poeple- sometimes to be nevous and to rise your voice of somebody amd sometimes just doing something becuase the rest of the people ,or the members of your group are doing you finished you spiritual development and became as all the rest going with the stream, as opposite takinf extrem= against the stream way of the development. And if you do your heart will sink once and again with the fright and feeling of being alone and lost, then you will FEEL the need of Creators help, but till you have your lessons and your group and you Rav, and everything is so sure, without any doubts, these are the signs of Lehashpia almanat Lekkabel, and the block=Makhsom on your spiritual way.

    So again pay attention to this step in BaalHaSulam’s explanation to TES, and learn to know that your real enemy isn’t Lekabbel al manat Lekabbel, but Lehashpia al Manat Lekkabel, because it is better to have a mother that think only about herself, and I mother that thinks that she thinks and does everything for the best of her child and actually destroys his individuality, independent thinking, making his neurotic, if not psycotic,may be such a person will manage to please his mother, but her will hate his life deep inside and will finish by fulfiling his mother’s wishes and not his own.

  2. yehudith says:

    As we know there are of course much more steps to be taken to get to the point of correction though their general devision is called four steps of Sulam.

    As for the multy-step ascend to the spirituality, there are some to be mentioned first.

    We have to understand that if we don’t make a physical exercises at a certain age our life will go more and more disapointing way and we will get fatter and more regid and there are a lot of desaeses waiting for us on this way.

    Exactly the same happens to our soul, if we don’t do spiritual gymnastics- perfroming Mitzvot and don’t follow the recomendetion of the experts-Torah our soul will become regid and so packed in Klippot, that we would hardly remember that there is one we were born with.

    So the first step is to begin the spiritual gymnastics for the soul- perfroming Mitzvot( a physical one is also highly recomended).

    The second step is orginizing a group of the people ( of course observing jews, men and women separatly, because as we said earlier there are different ways of study for them) and to find a rav-kabbalaist or a student of such a rav and to make the plan of the study.

    As for the plan( the third step), it should include the study of the articles of Rabash and the Ptikha for the beginners and the article of Zohar and TES for advanced students, we start from Ptikha or TES and finish the lesson with the articles, but you may do the way you think it is better for you, the main recommendation is to start the lesson with TES is because first the letter should be read, then the explanations of Baal HaSulam studies and then the explanation should be given for the students to understand the projection of the spiritual laws studied at the lesson on their everyday life.

    And the forth step should be, that no matter what IS THE SITUATION, THE LESSONS SHOULD BE HELD UNDER ANY CURCAMSTANCIES, and shouldn’t be moved to “any other day”.

    If we do these first four steps the next ones will come according to our intention and the wish to get correted, but these first four ones are crusial for any of us and for spiritual work in general.

  3. yehudith says:

    As for the explanations for the studied letter from TES or Ptikha, we of course begin with the explanations of Rabash and then read the explanations of rav Gottlieb, but if your lesson may last only for two hours( ours goes for five hours), then these explanations should be read at home or in smaller groups as a homework, and next lessons the questions should be asked and answered.

    If there is a serious problem with a person who may teach your group, you may find a person who will at least give you one lesson a month, then you will be responsible for the rest of the lessons and to master the studied material at the lesson.

    I am sure that if you really want the group and lessons FOR THE PURPOSE OF CORRECTION, then there will be alternative found, because there is no unanswered bestowing wishes.

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