philosopher_prince (yitz) wrote,

the Kabballah Center

I've always heard about it, and there used to be one on Emek Refaim near where I used to live.. but it closed down. I never really paid it much attention, it's a fad. But, I didn't realize it was expanding too such an extent that it's become like Scientology. The shocking part was the (alleged) fact that they are required to give 1/10th of their income to the Kabbalah Center. Which is a scary abberration of the real Jewish requirement which is to give (if you can afford it) one tenth of your income to charity.

Note, this (the actual Jewish requirement) includes any charity at all, none of the money goes back to a self-serving organization. There are guidelines however, that you give charity in the following priorities (from highest to lowest): first to those relatives who need assistance, then to one's friends, then to one's neighbors and those of the same town, then to one's own people, and lastly to anyone else in a distant town whom you have no specific connection with.--in other words it is pretty intuitive---except that it implies we _are_ more responsible for the well-being of those close to us than those further away. This in turn is an actual Kabbalistic concept that God (generally) brings those who need your help to you, rather than having to go and find them. Of course there are circumstances in which in order to perform a tremendous act of charity one might have to put in great efforts (ie. travelling to distant places etc).. but at the same time, the same Jewish requirement really limits the maximum charity one can give to one fifth of one's income. [Side note: The first Chabad Rebbe suggests a method (based on earlier precedents from the AriZ"l and general Jewish practice) in the Tanya whereby one can give more than a fifth. (in place of fasts meant to make up for past sins) Here, it is important to add an additional note that Chabad too _does not_ require it's members to contribute money to the organization. (This goes both ways, Chabad representatives around the world receive no money from the organization)]

Now that I've covered a whole side-issue of charity (Tzedaka in hebrew), back to the subject, which is Phillip Berg's Kabballah Center. There is blessed Kabballah Water that they must drink? ? Things of this nature are not beyond the scope of Kabbalah but, it definitely sounds in this case like an aberration meant to make money. Similarly the red-string bracelets that are sold for ~20$ ?? The Jews who wear red-string bracelets usually get them from little poor old ladies who travel to Rachel's Tomb daily and give them out to people who give them whatever little change they have on them when they pass in the street. Even if you don't give them anything chances are they might tie one on you. It's just yarn, there's nothing special about the string itself. Many people disregard the whole thing as superstition anyways, though I imagine if I asked my rav he would tell me the source of where it came from -- will try to remember to ask.

Anyways I remember my Rav explaining a year ago about Philip Berg (The whole community of actual Kabbalists isn't very large and they all know eachother. Philip Berg studied under some real Kabbalists and then went off on his own.) and how he started off with very lofty and good intentions but that he became too entrenched in the klippoth, literally 'the shells'.(as in: goodness comes with a shell or skin that protects it and the skin itself is meant to be removed before one can get at the beneficial stuff on the inside just as in the case of a citrus fruit or a legume, essentially he fell in with the 'dark side', got too involved in the transient or 'shells', the packaging, the marketing), I took it for granted that the Kabballah Center was a little shady, but I figured it did more good than harm, at least some Jews who had never been exposed to Torah might get their first taste from him.. but after the casual things i've read on the net (from non-jewish sources), it sounds much scarier. What will happen to the people who get chewed up by the Kabballah Center machine? the disillusionment that follows might turn them in even worse directions. God forbid.

In Judaism it is wrong to speak badly about another person. (For all I know Philip Berg still believes he is doing good, that he is helping people.) but it is more important to protect people from being misled, especially when it will cause them great harm. If one wants to study Kabbalah there are many legitimate sources, the best in english are the books of Dr. Aryeh Kaplan (Alternately one could look into the study of Hassiduth (Chassidus) which is actually the safest way to learn it), from there the best thing to do is come to Israel and find a proper Yeshiva in which to learn (for a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years) more under a real Rav who continues the tradition that has been passed down through the ages unabridged, unadulterated, unabbreviated, yet still refined.
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