NYT on the Kabbalah Center

The New York Times Magazine has an article about the Kabbalah Center, the New Age outfit that peddles dumbed down and de-judaized Jewish mysticism for a price ($26 for a loop of red string, for instance).

A year and a half after I began my explorations, the cynic in me writes the center off as hokum, a brilliantly shrewd commercial enterprise, playing on the existentially orphaned state that is the general condition of many people today, in or out of Los Angeles, offering spiritual cachet for cash. Still, the ever-hopeful, lapsed Orthodox Jew in me wonders whether I might have found my own personal mystically tinged form of antireligious religion had I been willing to overlook the crass reductionism and imbibe the New Age atmosphere of nonjudgmental compassion.

One thought on “NYT on the Kabbalah Center

  1. There are many who purportedly teach Kabbalah. Authentic Kabbalah requires that there be a traceable lineage and that proper texts and studies are used.
    The Kabbalah center of Philip berg claims such authentic lineage.
    In a response to a question about the Kabbalah Center, Philip Berg and their relationship, Rav Michael Laitman PhD said:
    “Personally, I consider Berg a failed Kabbalist. He just didn’t have a true teacher. Berg did not study Kabbalah with any true Kabbalist; you can ask Ashlag or Brandwein about it. No true Kabbalist could have taught him to sell Kabbalah for money. And I never wanted his center. I had a teacher – the last great Kabbalist, the eldest son of Baal HaSulam and his spiritual successor – Rav Baruch Ashlag. I was never connected to the Kabbalah Center. I was there once to give an introductory lecture and immediately understood that there is nothing to learn there. After I was studying with Rav Baruch Ashlag for a year, I offered teaching a class to Berg’s lecturers in the Kabbalah Center, in order to teach them at least something. As a result, they left his center and came to my teacher, and they became Kabbalists. That acquaintance and my visit to his center took place in 1980, but I opened my center only in 1995. Please tell me: what Kabbalistic sources are used for study in those “Kabbalah” centers? What works of the great Kabbalists do they study there? But after all, it’s only by studying them that a person receives the recognition of evil and its correction (Ohr Makif). And about me envying Berg: There was a time when I was giving lectures in LA and he offered me a teaching job in his center. I said I would do it, but on the condition that we study from the original sources. He laughed when I said this to him, and he told me “Who will pay you the kind of money for this that I’m now getting?” And he was right…”
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