What is Kabbalah? Is Baal Husalam an authentic Kabbalist?
I am trying to find my way spiritually speaking but I don't find anything in charms and red strings. Where should I go?
It's Jewish mysticism.
The Jews believe in three sets of scripture:
--the Tenakh (the Old Testament)
Zohar is a collection of writings that make up the body of Kaballistic teachings.
(There are also a number of fake "kaballah" disciplines that are entirely occult and entirely non-Jewish. Madonna studied these, not the Jewish version. No rabbi would have accepted her until she first mastered the Torah and rabbinic teachings.)
Not all Jews believe in the Zohar, and there are more Kabbalistic texts than just the Zohar. There's also the Sefer Yetzirah, the Heichalot, the Bahir, the Sefer Raziel HaMalakh, etc.
The whole red string thing is not authentic Kabbalah. Real Kabbalists spend years and years studying the Tanakh before they ever even ATTEMPT to study Kabbalah. Kabbalists have to know the Tanakh inside and out, and, traditionally, Kabbalists are supposed to be married men over 40 who have stable family lives.
And, yes, the Baal HaSulam was an authentic Kabbalist and an Orthodox rabbi.
Was the Baal HaSulam an authentic Kabbalist? Yes. Is he considrered a "great Kabbalist"? It depends on to whom you speak- many disagree with some of his teachings.
A more important issue is that of those who claim they are teaching Kabbalah using the teachings of Baa HaSulam. here the biggest culprit is "Rav" Michael Laitman- a person who is NOT a Rabbi (yet using the title falsely) who claims to be teaching what the Baal HaSulam taught. However- comparing what the Baal HaSulam wrote vs the English translation and commentary of "Rav" Micahel Laitman available on his website, one thing becomes clear- Michael laitman either did not understand what the Baal HaSulam said or is not even ustilising his works!
The Baal HaSulam called for more opennes in teaching Kabbalah- but he required his students to have the necessary knowledge to understand the Kabbalah! he did not state that ne could suddenly start studying the Kabbalah out of context, nor did he cliam that one could divorce Kabbalah from Judaism and teach it as a "science"! He merely called for Kabbalah teachers to take on more students- to get their seniour students who had demonstrated a clear knowledge of areas to teach those areas they were familiar with! In other words- the baal Hasulam wanted more Kabbalah taught, but he still wanted it taught properly!
Where should you go to study Kabbalah? Nowhere. First tudy the Torah properly- then the Talmud, followed by the Remez and Midrashic literature. Once you have that done- THEN you ready to study Kabbalah. before that, anything you learn would be divorced of context, meaning and relevance.