Education of a Kabbalist

Kabbalist Rav Berg
The Kabbalah Centre, 2000
UnknownThis promising book of less than two hundred pages was a bumpy read that alternated between being interesting, informative, repetitive, and also an invitation to the reader to follow studies in centers located worldwide. I have always been intrigued by the Jewish religion because of its age and deep roots in world history. Equally, I’ve been dismissive of it because of its clannish inbreeding that seemed so similar to the young organized religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) I grew up around. To me the attitude of both churches “reek of elitism,” as Berg wrote of his church. He is attempting to be more open and inviting.
Berg documents his years of study under master teacher Rabbi Yehuda Tzvi Brandwein

Temple in Jerusalem.

Temple in Jerusalem.

during the tumultuous time in Jerusalem around the 1967 Six Day War. He begins brusquely by stating a few facts and then plunges into a Kabbalah definition of the Messiah. I understood Messiah to mean the one who returns to save the world from destruction, such as Jesus Christ. Berg writes that the “Kabbalah teaches that humanity itself is the true Messiah. When humanity achieves a level of spirituality that merits our redemption, that redemption will have already been realized by the spiritual transformation that has taken place.”
I found this an interesting twist and worth thinking about. It is also belief in this definition that has led Berg’s establishment of The Kabbalah Centre around the world. He is bringing teachings out of the shadows and following what he was taught to make The Kabbalah and its teaching more accessible. This, he believes, will help the world achieve the level of redemption that will save us all.
The book is an odd little blend of esoteric teaching, cool, near boring description of daily life during his tenure with Rabbi Brandwein, and a sprinkling of platitudes. “Pay in advance for a future debt,” jumped at me as a platitude, that is now reduced to the popular phrase “pay it forward,” but then I reconsidered. The phrase has been repeated so often in the current popular culture it is now a platitude, but a few years ago when this book was published it wasn’t. I’m never against giving someone earned credit, so perhaps Berg is seeing some results.
Curious readers who want an easy introduction into The Kabbalah’s teachings would enjoy this book. If this was a break-out book to bring The Kabbalah into mainstream consciousness, it did so with well-planned baby steps. Serious students of comparative religions would find it simple. There’s an interesting tale that gives understanding to the concept of the religious desire to suffer more and worthwhile ideas about the psychology of hate and desire. It is packaged in an easy to read book and I’m sure it has brought more people to The Kabbalah Centre.

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7 Responses to Education of a Kabbalist

  1. Sounds interesting. Nothing wrong with learning all kinds of new things in this world.
    Thanks you for an eye-opening review, Rebecca. You do these so well. Thank you for sharing. ❤

  2. Interesting comparison between the Mormons and the Kabbalah, Rebecca. In addition to being ‘elite’ I would add secretive, almost cult like. –Curt

  3. Yes, I would agree. I’ve told myself to not so easily or quickly pick on the Mormons. It’s just that I grew up around them so closely they’re what I know. But I also think I know as much about them as I don’t know!

  4. Argus says:

    Sadly the infections spread and too often we see washed-and-brushed Mormon ‘missionaries’ desecrating our ignorant heathen streets down here in God’s Own Country (NZ). I was once importuned by a very attractive young damsel in the evening streets of some American (or was it Canadian? Memory falls short sometimes …) port, blatantly using sex-appeal to lure me into a ‘friendly meeting’ with some Children Of God folks. Wanting nothing more than to get back to the ship and out of the cold I declined, and so my education is incomplete. (Do they still ‘whore for Christ’—? I have no idea.)

    I imagine that behind Cabbala lurks also the need for a buck—any buck and often please, at someone else’s expense. We gullibles get around, you know; and all religion is Big Business and all sects/cults mere franchises. No?

    Kabbala may share a common ancestry with Scientology or the Tarot … and the Tarot dwells on the ‘Hero’s quest’ too. If I had to identify my current status in the Tarot I’d go along with Douglas’s take on the ‘Hermit’; dammit, I still see that card as wrongly drawn by almost all others. You have it spot on when you say “losing Faith in God is a Hero’s Journey Step”. An essential first step.

    • Nice to meet you and thanks for coming by and commenting. Yes, the Tarot does deal a lot with the hero’s quest and helping people grope along. It’s been around a long, long time in various forms and I would think how it’s interpreted is very dependent on who is doing the interpreting. Scientology I don’t know because it’s only been around since the early 1900s. Yes, I agree religion is too often a business or very closely related to one, at least in the “civilized” world and the newer ones like Scientology and the LDS. I’m not up on the numbers, but I don’t think the LDS missionaries are as successful in New Zealand as they are in countries in South America and parts of Africa. Someone used sex appeal to lure you in to God? Wow. I missed that experience. Best I’ve gotten offered is a free meal.Thanks again!

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