What’s the Straight Dope, as it were, about the (in)famous Kabbalah Center? Money-making opportunists or sincere Qabbalists? People who want to improve the world at large or just people who want to improve their world and bank account? Good, pure Qabbalah or watered-down New Agey claptrap? Seeking tiqqun haolam and following yetzer hatov or following yetzer hara?
What makes me skeptical is the fact that most Qabbalists don’t mess with the 72-lettered Name (sometimes also known as Shem haMeforash) unless one’s advanced, whereas the Kabbalah Center seems to want to broadcast, popularize, and offer it to all who will listen. Christians aren’t the only ones who have a “cast not pearls before swine” attitude to higher doctrines and practices.
I’m somewhat of a Kabbalah enthuesiest myself so here’s my take: the K.C. is essentially a kosher version of the church of scientology. Extremely intelligent charismatic people running a buisiness (as well as an organization to exert influence).
They mean no harm, and aside from taking a few dollars from upper-middle class midlife crisis cases they’re cool. I suppose they are technically bastardizing something holy to make profit, but one can’t really hold that against them, after all they are of course jewish
As for why they aren’t a legitimate vessel for god’s word (or whatever), its like this: jewish mysticism ain’t for sale, nor by its very nature could it be put in a book and sold. Not the simplest topic to boil down into a thought but I assure you that the original meaning and messages behind holy texts such as the Zohar are not being taught through the K.C.
Well, I’m surprised that the Kabbalah Center offers the text and translation of the Zohar online for free (if one registers, of course).
Zev,Thanks for pointing out what Shem haMeforesh really refers to.
[hijack] This reminds me of a major pet peeve of mine: the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in most of its many divisions, has taken elements of Jewish mysticism and perverted them. According to the Golden Dawn, the Shem haMeforesh “refers to the seventy-two fold Name of God, or to be exact, the seventy-two Names of the Expounded Name of Tetragrammaton.” Another manifestation of ignorance of what they’re dealing with is the translation of the words used in the ritual of the Qabbalistic Cross. They translate “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory” as “Atah malchuth vegevurah vegedula leolam amen.” First, the pronunciation is all wrong. It’s “mal-koot” (Sephardic) or “mal-koos” (Ashkenazic) and not “mal-kooth.” It’s “ah-meyn” and not “ah-men.” And the translation is “You are…” and not “Yours is…” (For “Yours is…” it should be “Lekha hammalkhut vehagvurah vehagdula leolam amein.”) I could go on and on, but will stop. At least the Kabbalah Center is keeping true to Judaism and Hebrew, rather than skewing it like Golden Dawners. [/hijack]
When I called the KC some time ago, they seemed very keen on me buying something substantial (tapes, more books) in addition to or instead of getting the free book they were offering.