Rav Yehuda Ashlag was one of the greatest Kabbalists of the twentieth century, and certainly was one of the most famous and prolific. He authored a groundbreaking commentary to the Zohar, which is the classic Kabbalah text. Written in Aramaic, The Zohar is designed as a commentary to the Hebrew Pentateuch, the five Books of Moses. Not only is the Aramaic text of the Zohar difficult for even the keenest student of Hebrew, but the philosophical structures and school of thought of the Zohar and its relation to the Bible are quite complex. Thus, in his commentary entitled “The Ladder,” Ashlag translated the Zohar into Hebrew while also explaining the deep concepts of the content.
Rav Yehuda Ashlag’s students including his own sons as well as others, and among these was Rav Yehuda Tzvi Brandwein. Seeing the great potential in the young Brandwein, it was Ashlag to suggested his sister-in-law, his wife’s sister, to Brandwein as an option for marriage. They were married, and thus, Brandwein became Ashlag’s brother-in-law.
Rav Brandwein passed away in 1969, having established his Yeshivah (Jewish institute of higher learning) – Kol Yehudah – in Jerusalem and then having moved it to the Old City of Jerusalem immediately following the Six Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem. Rav Berg of the Kabbalah Centre studied under Rav Brandwein in Israel, and Rav Berg spent many years studying with him, both while in Israel, and also on frequent visits from America to Jerusalem.
Rav Berg opened the Kabbalah Center in America after having taught Kabbalah for a period in Israel, and Rav Berg has seen great successes with the Kabbalah Center, which in some ways he modeled on Kol Yehuda. Rav Berg has reported that he had a very close relationship to Rav Brandwein, and that he continues Brandwein’s traditions. Rav Berg is joined by his wife, Karen Berg in leading the Kabbalah Center.