Learning Kabbalah

How authentic is Ashton Kutcher's Torah?

Comments (69)

(68) Shulamit, March 23, 2011 3:30 PM

Well Said, Thak You

For thousands of years, no one was allowed to study Kabbalah until age 40 and until they understood Torah at a higher level than most of the well studied scholars. Maybe worse that a being fake is they are going to mess up their lives even more without having the years of Torah study before they even begin Kabbalah.

(67) Ishaq, February 1, 2011 8:41 PM

KABBALAH

Even though the Rabbi could have addressed the question differently, he is still right. Kabbalah needs to be situated within the Jewish Religion. Actually, if you go to the main website for those Kabbalah centers you will find NO MENTION of God. C'mon!

(66) Anonymous, February 1, 2011 5:08 PM

You're judging people too harshly, Rabbi

If you study anything taught by modern kabalists like Rav Laitman -- student of the Baal HaSulam you will find a lot of merit and clearly understand that exactly this kind of learning can lead people --unafiliated Jews and others-- to aish and torah observance. As you say "one man's opinion" yet you sound like an advertisement for Aish. I'm Torah knowledgable and observant and I see MUCH good in the study of kabalistic principles -- espcially for the rich and famous who don't have an average existence and need to understand that ALTRUISM is the key to TIKKUN OLAM.

(65) Keren /henng, February 1, 2011 8:39 AM

right on and kol ha kavod!

You hit this nail right on the head! My rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Goldberger of Baltimore once said that if you see a class listed as "Basic Kabbalah" what you will learn will NOT be Kabbalah. Kabbalah is a mesorah passed on person to person and those who teach it never advertise!

(64) Anonymous, January 31, 2011 10:47 PM

reply to Penny

I was thinking about your comment, and I fervently feel that there isn't so much of a disagreement as a misunderstanding. Rabbi Solomon certainly isn't saying that those who learn kabbalah in these types of centers are bad people and that we should look down on them. On the contrary, I could almost guarantee you that he would probably do whatever he could to help any of them and that he doesn't have any hatred towards them in the slightest. As I was listening to him speak I actually perceived compassion and pity for these people. He seems to care so much about them that it hurts him to see them being misguided. I presume that you would agree that it is possible for someone to appreciate someone else yet still disagree with an action of theirs. Therefore, I don't see any reason for you to be offended that he was creating friction between Jews. By the way, I heard from a massive and very renown scholar both in kabbalah and in many other sections of Torah that one should certainly become proficient in other area's of Torah first before engaging in kabbalah. All of Torah is filled with spirituality and guidance and it just needs to be learned properly. I read some of the other comments that were responding to your comment and I do not agree with their tone. I would however, just suggest to listen again to Rabbi Solomon and try to see if you feel that he is bashing those who attend these centers or if he actually acknowledges how much they are seeking truth and he so direly wishes for them to only attain the true good.

(63) Zev, January 31, 2011 12:14 AM

Thank you Rabbi Salomon

It is about time someone spoke up and told it like it is. Thank you

(62) Chey Myers, January 30, 2011 7:04 PM

What people are searching for...........

What is rubbing some people the wrong way with the Rabbi speech, people don't like being told what to think. This is what brings people to Kabbalah centers to begin with. People seek Kabbalah-spirituality-freedom, and think of Religion as a place where someone is telling you what to think, rules, and punishment. A bunch of DO's and DON'Ts. Kabbalah is a spirituality, a way of life. This is why it is so popular. People are looking for spirituality, not Religion.

(61) Babbi, January 30, 2011 6:53 PM

Love is blind

No expert but when I got wrapped up in Kabbalah years ago, without the Torah, it was wonderful, but left me pretty naive. The things Penny brought up in Torah, it would of been handy to know first before going into Kabbalah head first. For there is wisdom found within Torah, concerning strife etc. The 100% love walk is awesome, but without Torah, my own built in set of beliefs (which we all have) was not being challenged according to the wisdom of Torah. Kabbalah, without Torah, can leave one disillusioned in the end. Until you lay the foundation of Torah. After a foundation of Judaism & Torah, then I went back and built on top of that by adding some Kabbalah. I have gotten more out of both now, after laying a foundation with Torah. It's small, all of it. Now I get into Kabbalah, and I have a better knowledge and understanding to not steer off from the left or the right. I'm still learning though.

(60) R K, January 30, 2011 6:58 AM

comment to #38

Sorry to break the news to you, but in the Zohar itself, we are told that the knowledge within is not only intend for Jews alone, but those who have mastered the entire Torah (written and oral) and are committed to following the mitzvahs. This isn't to say that some concepts don't enter the realm of basic knowledge (like the idea of tzimtzum, things that appear in the prayers of the Sabbath and holidays, reasoning behind customs), but general laypeople aren't the intended audience for the Zohar. Before the Kabbalah Center was big (20 yrs ago), some adherents to R. Berg invited my family to a "learning session." There was no tolerance for any variation from R. Berg's teachings yet no one had the ability to answer the questions my mother and I put...they simply lacked the essential Torah knowledge to do so. (As I became religious, I found these answers at Orthodox shuls and in mainstream religious texts.) My family now lives very close to a Kabbalah Center. We've had many guests, friends, and neighbors who have visited there. Many found it to be a money-sucking, superficial organization wherein people never seemed to get answers to serious questions, but were always invited to attend the next class...which they would have to pay for. Others had a positive experience in that it gave them a little taste of Judaism--which they then followed up by in-depth study at Aish, JLE, Chabad, etc. Those people look back at their time at the Kabbalah Center as a "stepping-stone" to Judaism. My biggest concern is this: Look at the lifestyle of the adherents to the Kabbalah Center. Do they live a lifestyle that you can honestly describe as "holy"? Maybe you can, but I cannot. I see permissiveness, material excess, selfishness, and this-worldly orientation.

(59) SusanE, January 30, 2011 12:43 AM

How Authentic is Kutchers Learning?

I've studied some Kabbalah and only can parrot what I've read. I don't intend to be an information source to anyone. How would we know how much of a base Kutcher has in Jewish learning, until someone has listened to him.? Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he may have studied when he was younger or read a few books. ~~~~~~~~~~~ There are many who are able to grasp a very basic concept quickly. Perhaps he doesn't want to know details of Judaism and just wants to be part of the 'spirituality of the day club'. Or, maybe he is truly searching for meaning and purpose. I don't know about him except for his camera commercials. so, I can't judge his intent.

(58) Marc, January 28, 2011 4:07 PM

To # 53

Hello my friend Penny, Firstly you have to realize that Aish.com is an Orthodox movement. Secondly, Rabbi Salomon was not even saying anything negative about our bretheren. He was saying that learning Kabbalah without learning the basic principles behind it is bogus because you are lakcing the fundamentals. Maybe you should rehear the talk that he said with a different view. Please don't look for criticism in the orthodox community. I'm sure there are many internal conflicts and disagreements you have with the orthodox community. Let us turn to the Torah to learn about all of it. It's not all about peace, its about what the Torah says. Let go of the Liberal Attitude that brings all together no matter what. Judaism believes in love and peace but also in honesty. The Torah portion this week says "Midvar Sheker Tirchak"- stay far away from falsehood. "Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof"- run after rightousness. We must run after peace ("Bakeish Shalom V'radpheihu") and Tzidkus- the Emet- Truth. Kabbalah is true of course but is meaningless without the preemptive knowledge of the Torah itself.

(57) Joe, January 28, 2011 2:39 PM

Reply to Penny

Penny you say: "and our newest members - the Kabbalah. " Are you insane? Kaballah has been a part of our tradition for millennia. Another major part of Torah and Talmud, which you demand the Rabbi reads, is keeping the tradition unblemished and unaltered - particularly the holy books. There is a commandment explicitly forbidding adding or subtracting a single letter from Torah. You would know that if YOU had read them. This is not a new movement of Judaism, it is a cult. It is a sham. A real kaballist would never be part of a pay for play organization that wants you to buy stuff on Shabbos or work for them on Shabbos to pay off your class fees or to buy "holy water." That's Catholicism Penny, and even they don't charge for it. A real kaballist is always the most serious Torah scholar first. That is the way it has been for thousands of years. I am speaking so harshly to you because you are desecrating Torah with your ignorance and your arrogance. You have no right to know so little yet pontificate so much on matters you know nothing of - clearly. We are trying to save you from getting bilked. Possibly the nicest thing I can do for you is point out your utter, stupid, misinformed, ignorance and save you from your arrogant folly.

(56) , January 28, 2011 12:27 PM

The movie stars kabbalah has been associated as being called New Age, more than associated with Judaism kabbalah. In a book store, you can find books on kabbalah in the Judaism section, and you can find some in the New Age section. Rabbi Yaakov is probable right, the kind the movie stars are in is probable not authentic. However, it can be of help to them. Some that had prayed for Madonna, saw the answers to their prayers when she got into kabbalah, and this remark came from people of her church. When someone is perceived as a lost cause, they don't care what it takes to straighten them out. So it's doing some good, even though it's not authentic Judaism kabbalah. On the other hand, can get nitty gritty here and say Judaism in the U.S. isn't authentic either, it's been Americanized. Sometimes we get what we can get, whether it's authentic or not.

(55) Rosalyn Lansky, January 28, 2011 11:07 AM

Can tell who has been intoxicated with Kabbalah and who hasn't here.

(54) Joseph, January 28, 2011 1:08 AM

Rabbi Solomon is correct...I have experienced it...

I have met men who studied kabbalah without even being proficient in the Hebrew language and it was like watching someone speak about politics and lacking a basic knowledge of civics. It may make them feel good and important but in fact they are ignorant beyond words. Kabbalah is a very holy part of Judaism and the real holy kabbalists actually immerse themselves in a mikvah before studying her holy words. Additionally, if not studied properly i.e. with sanctity, it does not serve the purpose of bringing one closer to Hashem but rather is a means of achieving a "high" intellectually. So learning kabbalah while still engaging in a secular life devoid of Torah study and observance, as does Madonah and others, is like feeding a pig with chinaware and silverware.

(53) Penny, January 27, 2011 9:57 PM

United We stand, Divided We Fall

The intolerance and prejudience expressed in your personal editorial must be addressed before any engagement in meaningful dialogue with all branches of Judaism. This includes Orthodox, Chasidic, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructive, and our newest members - the Kabbalah. Maybe you should reread your Torah and Talmud to recall the strife and internal divisions that beseeched ancient Judah. These internal conflicts and disagreemetns between brothers and families ultimately led to two kingdoms. A divided kingdom weakened by hatred, greed, self-righteousness, and pride. Yes, let us turn to the Torah to learn to embrace our brothers and sisters, all children of G-D, to share with our neighbors to create a peaceful world within and without. Let go of the Fundamental Attitude that divides rather than unites the Jewish people.

(52) , January 27, 2011 6:46 PM

to Yossi @ 43

You asked what's the problem, when there are bigger problems. R' Noach Weinberg frequently pointed out that when you build a wall, you put 1 brick on the next. If, at the foundation, it's off just a bit, then with each higher level, it veers further away from "straight" until it falls over. Therefore, one should be concerned, as Rabbi Solomon is here, to ensure that the source of their information should be sound, so they don't end up so far afield they cause even greater damage to themselves and the world. Power attained can also be power to destroy

(51) Sue, January 27, 2011 3:10 PM

Searching

People are searching for meaning in their lives but these "Kabalists" are not authentic.There are real ones out there, but they are not in Hollywood and they certainly don't advertise.Start on the basics and work your way up.Kabalah is not for amateurs

(50) Hugh, January 27, 2011 6:32 AM

Hollywood Cheder

I don't know the Kabbalah aside from reading, or starting to read Aryeh Kaplan's books. I do study Torah weekly through a wonderful set of books called "Torah Anthology" which you can buy anywhere. But I have to admit, I share the idea expressed that knowledge is important wherever you get it. Anything that sparks interest in spiritual Judaism might draw one into eventually studying Torah and attending services, possibly wearing tefillin every day and saying Shema. It's all good...Tefillin especially. I'm going through my own re-introduction after many years of being a non-practicing individual. I was the typical American who got Bar Mitzvahed and then didn't do anything for over 30 years. Again, if Hollywood Judaism inspires people to becoming more observant, that's great!

(49) Anonymous, January 27, 2011 6:27 AM

Is Kabbalah teaching people to enjoy a spiritual trip, find lofty meanings and fel connected? Does it teach them to also worship G-d? Let's take a simple example, one of the Ten Commandments is to guard and remember the Shabbat. True Kabbalah speaks of the Shabbat as the Bride of G--d, keeping the Shabbat as He commanded leads us to this. Does the Center teach how to practice the laws of the Bible, or just enjoy the high that comes from spirituality? True Kabbalah speaks about following Halacha, Jewish Law. Are the followers of the Ceter doing that? Would I ever take an electrian to repair a serious electrical problem if his only knowledge of electricity was from reading a book about the spiritual aspect of elecricity? Why when it comes to being a Jew are we willing to accept anyone that speaks like a preacher. To take the "high" of Kabbalah without taking on the responsibilities that Kabbalah presents is just being naive.Taking money for that service is stealing, not just money, souls. As a side note, for those who would seriously like to investigate the issue, please take a traditional Kabbalah book like the Sulam or the writings of the Ari'zl and compare-notice the deletions, and changes that the Center's book contain. If you want true spirituality, search and know that as it is said, "if you search and you find believe it, if you found without searching, you found nothing'. Rabbi Salomon, you are correct in your coming out about this, and I respect you for having the guts to do so.As we say, Yasher Koach.

(48) José, January 26, 2011 9:01 PM

It's all true, and then some...

My wife was at the Kabbalah Center for a couple of years and B"H she then went on to authentic Judaism. She has first-hand knowledge that their rabbi is a fraudster, who shakes women's hand without giving it second thought, has satellite dishes installed in his bedroom wherever he goes (I guess he doesn't have to watch his eyes either). Also, we have friends who were nextdoor neighbors with this so-called Kabbalist and they know he physically abused his wife and children, and threatened to se them if they called the police. To boot, he dumped his wife, left her an aguna for his secretary (and current wife). Whoever says this is loshon hora, I suggest you read basic Chofetz Chayim to learn that it is not. This man is evil personified and has persistently dodged invitations to an open debate with real rabbis on the pretext that it would cause "machlokes".

(47) Anonymous, January 26, 2011 7:53 PM

It's a cult...I was in it!

Kabbalah is a cult!! I was there for quite sometime. I spent an large amount of money on them. I volunteered until very late at night for them. I was told I couldn't come to Friday night and Shabbos morning meals unless I paid in advance. I did a tremendous amount of volunteer work, and I still couldn't go for Shabbos unless I paid!! I paid $250 for a Zohar set. I was told to just look and point at the words and with that, everything I asked for would come true. Once I told them I couldn't pay the $1000 to go away for the High Holidays to California and I asked for my $200 deposit back, they were very rude to me after that. They were very persistant that If I were to wear the red string, drink the water and look into my Zohars that "The Light" will provide the money for the trip. And at the same time, told me to ask people to help me out and give me money. These people do not call themselves Jews. They say they are Kabbalists. Cult, Cult, Cult!!!! Rabbi Solomon is right and I'm glad to see someone finally speaking out about this.

(46) Anonymous, January 26, 2011 7:44 PM

Shocking

I have attended orthodox synogague, chabad and the Kabbalah Centre. My time spent at the Kabbalah Centre is the time I treasure the most. It has opened up my understanding and appreciation and desire to learn more and be a better person than anything else. I saw alot of comments about what is being taught or not taught. I have just spent weeks and weeks in a class studying the first parasha of Genesis- and we are still studying it. They have plenty of intro level classes to get people in the doors which are fine for the masses and some people will assume that is all but there is plenty there for the serious student of Torah, also. I don't think you should criticize what is offered, Rabbi Salomon, without finding out directly before you use such words as "farce". The Kabbalah Centre is trying to make the world a better place through deeper understanding of Torah. While at the Kabbalah Centre, I have studied Rashi, the Rambam, The Ari, the Apte Rebbe, Rosh LaChachmim and others. I read Torah, Talmud and Mishnah there. I don't really care who walks in the door but if they leave better than they came in and with a desire to change the world for the better, who cares what you call it. Open your mind......

(45) Ariel David, January 26, 2011 5:37 PM

I Think The Saying Is True :)

What do you get when you put 10 Jews into a room to debate an issue? Answer: 15 to 20 opinions. I hope everyone understands, the good Rabbi's job is to try and help people steer clear of things that don't follow Torah and Talmud. Now, one of my experiences with the Kabbalah center involved one of their speakers telling me (at a conference in Denver) about an experience he had as a child. The neighbor kid who was a friend of his was enjoying some bacon, and it smelled great, and he accepted some and liked it - and his outcome was that what he ate wasn't really important. Do I, as a Jew, accept his proposal, or the Word of G-d, Who said "Don't eat that"? We all have decisions to make. If you aren't in agreement with someone about theirs, have a loving and understanding one-on-one talk about it with them. It's hard enough to try and understand and follow haShem's commands at times - don't be one who takes a follower away from doing as He commanded. May the Almighty abundantly bless, nourish, and watch over you and your loved ones.

(44) Joe, January 26, 2011 3:42 PM

These comments are fascinating

Upon looking at the angry comments in defense of the "Kaballah Center" and the description of "kaballah water" the business aspect of it, and in particular Robin's comment, it seems really clear to me that the Kaballah center and Scientology have a lot in common. There is this cult like focus on one personality. There are the vapid and self obsessed movie people gushing about their easy path to enlightenment, there is the desecrate Shabbos to come to them aspect, there is the shoddy pseudo-intellectual clap trap aspect, there is the money aspect. There is the we are an "in group" who will sell you the "real secret knowledge" aspect. Well, some fellow Jews, I am ashamed to say found the formula of L Ron Hubbard. For the record. Kaballah is deep and beautiful and glorious. If you want to learn it, you can for free, from people who know it. You just have to learn Torah and Talmud first and have some sort of grasp of Rashi and the Midrash. From there, you have the vocabulary and framework to delve into the mysteries. This is not said as a put down. This is reality. The Ramban for example (one of the greatest kabbalists) can not possibly be understood without knowing Rashi. Rashi makes no sense without knowing Torah, Midrash and the Hebrew language. You can go up that ladder for free. You can't buy a shortcut.

(43) Yossi, January 26, 2011 2:58 PM

Other issues in the world are more worrisome

I don't see the big deal about people finding ways to learn Kabbalah. No everyone has the time or priviledge of learning Torah and even more so having it explained to you in the same manner. I have attending orthodox synagouge's my whole life and have never had the Torah explained to me, we just read the Hebrew and Aramaic text and that is all. I recently purchased the Power of Kabbalah book by Yehuda Berg and I'm finding it interesting becuase it is just a simple introduction, that is all. There is really no harm by people learning the basics of Kabbalah there is much more troubling issues in the world, so why does it bother other Jews. If anything the popularity of Kabbalah can make the world better as it attracts people who would normally not be exposed that the knowledge. Let's not forget that the Torah is meant to be shared with the world, and even if it's just some basic principles and not thw whole Torah that people will learn from Kabbalah, it is better then no exposure at all. Tikkun Olam is not a bad concept to teach.

(42) Don L., January 26, 2011 6:18 AM

ditto x's 10

ditto to Avi Orlan, January 25, 2011

(41) , January 26, 2011 4:45 AM

Why do you have to make a person's small spark of Kedusha -- holiness -- invalid? Try seeing the good in everything.

(40) RH, January 26, 2011 3:31 AM

Jonathan C

Unfortunately you are mixed up from all the 'places' you are learning about Judaism. It is you who should be ashamed of yourself for speaking about Rabbi Salomon that way. He is only stating what all of the authentic Rabbis teach, not the phony ones. If you have a problem with his non-acceptance of your 'conservative' Rabbi's views maybe Aish is not for you. It is certainly not meant for everyone. If you are indeed Jewish, I pray for you to find the right path to Torah. By the way, someone who stands up for what's right in Judaism is a most respected individual and deserving of great things (this is actually in the Bible). Lashon Hora?!

(39) J.D., January 26, 2011 2:43 AM

Roie, your notion that knowledge of kabbalah begins and ends with the Kabbalah Center speaks volumes. Between your post and the story Ruth Housman shared this is sounding more and more like some kind of cult to me. As far as your comment about religion bringing only war, the Torah tells us an interesting story about the very first murder. Abel's sacrifice was accepted while Cain's was rejected - so Cain murders his brother. On the surface it looks like religion was to blame, right? But the fact is God never told Cain to kill anyone - the negative traits of jealousy and anger were the real cause. Throughout history people have used religion as an excuse to shed blood but it has nothing to do with the true will of God and everything to do with not struggling hard enough against the yetzer hara, the negativity within us all. I'm no expert on Torah so i hope that what i posted here is straight and true. Finally, thank you Dr. Salomon for all you do, please keep up the good work.

(38) Adam Rosenbloom, January 26, 2011 1:12 AM

What a terrible slanderous, shameful broadcast

Firstly, your broadcast seems to imply that that study of Kabbalah is intended for Jews only. "Religion" as is well known has been the cause of war and strife between peoples. "Spirituality" seems to bring people together. I am very proud of my religious education at Temple Israel in Great Neck, NY. I was in the intensive classes three days a week after public school. I took Hebrew, Torah, and Judaism classes. I became a bar mitvzah. In grade Vav Dr. Ben Sorek gave us an introduction to kabbalah. He explained to us the doctrine of tzimtzum and drew a big circle on the chalkboard to represent G-d's contraction of the Light. Years later, when I took the kabbalah I class at the Kabbalah Center the instructor drew the same exact circle and gave the same exact explanation. But that's just one small example. I've done a lot of independent readings from "authentic" Jewish sources like Ayreh Kaplan, Gershom Sholem, and others. Every time I thought I spotted an inconsistency with the basic teachings of traditional Judaism at the Kabb. Center I asked a question. I tried to pin them down, but I couldn't. You should go there and try, really. I have been astonished to see men wearing Hasidic dress in their "war room" (synagogue room with pews). I didn't have the courage to ask them why they were there. Surely, the Hasidim, with their entrenched views wouldn't fall for the Kabbalah Center if it were a bunch of hokum. Do they try to "guilt" you into donating money? Sure? But so do traditional synagogues, especially around the High Holy Days. The Kabbalah Water? Just a way to bring in revenue. My understanding is that this Kabbalah Water is just New Jersey tap water. Red String? I have sources for Jewish folk healing dating from 1759. Mitteilungen Zur Judischen Volkskunde. You should challenge the teachers in person before you criticize them online. Take 10 sessions of Kabbalah 1. Request a one-on-one conference. You can do that. You'd be surprised at what's there. Adam

(37) m, January 26, 2011 12:32 AM

For #22, Roi

Should Jews then decide "what" is Christianity and "what" is Islam? Non-Jews are welcome to interpret any Jewish text they wish, but it makes no sense for them to then label their opinions as Jewish.

(36) Joe Harris, January 25, 2011 9:54 PM

For once I completely agree with R. Salomon

Kabballah is serious stuff to be undertaken in a serious manner by someone who is already firmly grounded in Jewish Thought and Jewish Law. All of those who are commenting here about how somehow the Rabbi has taken a narrow view are arrogant to the point of stupidity. Please let me explain. There are all too many who feel that they are such special snowflakes that their opinion on *all* topics matters as much as the facts, learning, hard work and dedicated study of those who took the time to actually learn a difficult subject. This is arrogant and wrong. In the physics world, my field, you will encounter many "mystical" "new agey" types who hold all manner of imaginative views about quantum mechanics. They get very offended when it is pointed out that their views about the actual real world of QM are simply silly fantasies that make no sense at all. Too bad. G-d forbid I say that one should not learn physics! But please understand there is no shortcut. That pop science book you read on Quantum Mechanics does not mean you now know how to calculate the hyperfine splitting or can adequately discuss spinors. It means you have a dumbed down, to the point it was wrong in most cases, beginners view of a very deep topic. If you want to learn actual physics there is no short cut. Learn the mathematics you need: vector calculus, linear algebra, differential equations and Green's functions first. Then get a firm grounding in classical mechanics and basic E&M through the notion of a Poisson Bracket. If you do that, we can teach you actual QM. There is no "fluffy" easier, shorter path of equal merit that you can take because you are *that* special. No such path exists. No such arrogance should be given *any* respect. In exactly the same way, by all means learn kabballah, but learn Torah and Talmud first.

(35) Samson, January 25, 2011 8:56 PM

Funny how actors impress people so much these days

That they follow them around like sheep and pay them millions of dollars every time they do something they call a job. And then listen to their every word like they are prophets.

(34) Ariel David, January 25, 2011 8:49 PM

Note to Roie

Roie - this is just my belief, but the Kabbalah Center in LA (yes, I've been there) doesn't teach Torah-based Kabbalah, and that is wrong. Only in the wisdom of the Torah can one begin to gain some degree of understanding of mysticism. If you listen to many of these celebrities today, they would have you believe that they've enjoyed some magical or holy experience that sets them apart from you and me, and this just isn't so. Mysticism IS mysticism because of man's inherent inability to comprehend the mind of G-d, and His intentions. There is no magic. There is no hocus pocus, magic wands, or other paraphernalia. G-d reveals real truth based on His wisdom that we are ready to receive at various stages. Some actor or singer didn't just walk into the Kabbalah center and become enlightened and privileged to behold the secrets of the universe and all of creation. But you can see where it makes their fans and followers even more enamored with them. You want real Kabbalah? Start with Ramban and go from there. Just my opinion.

(33) Anonymous, January 25, 2011 7:41 PM

It's known what kabbalah is. You don't have to learn it to know what it is about. You don't have to go to doctor school to know what a doctor does. Kabbalah is mystical. It's a deeper understanding. A person can't learn/understand a deeper understanding if they don't know the basics. One can't start learning how to perform exact heart or brain surgery before learning how the body works.

(32) David Schulman, January 25, 2011 7:08 PM

Rabbi's Like You Cause Pain & Suffering in the World

The Zohar is very clear about people like you. You act self righteously and yet you are dark and judgmental inside. You spout alleged wisdom and words of warning and yet you offer no solution yourself. It is so easy to attack something you don't understand. It is the sign of a small and scared mind. I feel sorry for the people who listen to you. You pray every morning and say the bracha "Techiyat Hametim" and you have no clue what it means. You wrap yourself in your Tefillin in the morning and for you it is Avodah Zarah. You open the Aron Hakodesh on Shabbat and think you are actaully doing something? Your colossal ego has created such a gap between yourself and the Creator and yet you open your mouth with such a lack of human tolerance and disdain? Shame on you, Yaakov. Your lack of wisdom and insignificant pontificating only causes pain and sorrow to those that have been led by the Yetzer Hara to listen to you. You think learning another blatt of gemara will save your soul? The world is burning and you wear a fur coat of mitzvot, exhorting people to do as you do. If you had any sense, you would do Teshuva immediately and stop speaking Loshon Hara.

(31) Robin, January 25, 2011 5:44 PM

The Kabbalah Business

After my boyfriend (now my husband) and I took the first introductory Kabbalah course, we learned what the Kabbalah Center is all about, It is a business! They sell "blessed" (BS) water, all kinds of paraphenalia and books written only by their Rabbi Berg. They preferred that I desecrate the Sabbath by driving to their services on Saturday when I had the option of walking to a local synagogue. I had to PAY for the Kiddush lunch which I was expected to help set up and clean up. They would not let me bring in a friend of mine that was staying with me to one of the lectures, because she did not pay for the course. If this was NOT a business they would have welcomed her. The information was very interesting and I did enjoy the lectures very much, but I wanted real Judaism and not a Kabbalah cult. I call it a cult because they seem to have this one Rabbi Berg who they regard as 2nd to G-d. I don't. I became observant and I attend my orthodox shule three blocks away where we have many books by different authors and there is no one that is 2nd to G-d.

(30) Michael S., January 25, 2011 5:23 PM

Follow directions.

Thank you Rabbi, for the guidance. You gave people the map, it's now up to them to follow the directions.

(29) Anonymous, January 25, 2011 5:21 PM

uninformed

Sounds like you're jealous that the Kabbalah Centre has more attraction for people than aish. You have never been to a class at the Kabbalah Centre so what you are spewing is lashon hara. And uninformed as well. You don't know what you are talking about.

(28) Susan, January 25, 2011 5:08 PM

Tainted Torah

It is wrong to study tainted Torah. You need to be very sure of your sources. Recheck several times. For a while, I studied with someone. It turned out to be a horrible experience for me. To give a false impression of who they let us believe they were...To unlearn everything and relearn. Their voice was very convincing, the knowledge was by far superior, it was hard to walk away from that teacher. I now study with an Orthodox teacher, from the beginning, taking the Chumash, line by line and making us think about it, dissecting it. I commend you for speaking this Rabbi Solomon. This is not at all Lashon Hara. It is a warning to protect our souls from incorrect teachings. It is being done for a small group of Noahides who have no real place to go. We are finding our way. Thank you.

(27) Anonymous, January 25, 2011 5:07 PM

Is it so bad to bring people in on another level?

I agree that it may not the true essence of Kabbalah, which I Have not studied to any extent because I don't have enough Torah knowledge at this point in my life. But if it brings people to want to learn and study more Jewish texts, is that so bad?

(26) mgoldberg, January 25, 2011 5:00 PM

But you didn't tell them why it's not the real deal. You see... if you jazz up someone, and it feels 'good' then they can't really understand what's not 'right' about that 'feeling good'. You essentially stated platitudes- no matter how accurate and well intentioned you are. That is the problem with such critiques as you presented here. The average person says- 'So... what do you have that will make me FEEL so good' and you don't have something like that. Of course, the analogy is the sexual thrill that is obtainable that might 'FEEL GOOD' but does nothing for the long distance race, or the meaningful relationship but it is analogous to the problem of explaining that kind of 'restraint' to someone

(25) Amy, January 25, 2011 4:48 PM

Who is to judge?

Jews dont go banging on doors for converts or standing on street corners. Anyone who starts *somewhere* in a positive light can not be bad for the whole. If the most influential and popular people in pop culture are embracing even a smidge of Judaism, it is a good start. Or would you rather have Mel Gibson?

(24) Yochanan, January 25, 2011 4:32 PM

Ditto

Ditto to Avi and Ruth as well as what Rabbi Salomon stated. There is a reason why the study of Kabbalah is not started until 40 years of age and after learning the Torah in depth and at least an intermediate exposure and learning of the wriitings of our Chazal. Kabbalah and Judaism becomes cheapened and watered down. If one does not observe Torah to the best of his/her ability and knowing why they observe Torah, how can they even begin to grasp the deepest understandings and explanations of Ha'Shem's Word to us? eh?

(23) Johnny, January 25, 2011 4:08 PM

Rabbi Salomon is right, studying Kabbalah in this way is wrong. It is not that Kabbalah in and of itself is bad, but one should not start with it. That is like trying to stand up with no legs. Kabbalah is the last and 4th level of study.

(22) Roie, January 25, 2011 2:32 PM

One thing is for sure

You never being to the Kabbalah Centre, and You do not know / understand what is Kabbalah. Your lecture is exactlly like me speaking about health and I am not a Dr. First go there and learn. then you will have the abilty to place your opiniion. At the momment. your thoughts are based on empty platform. Kabbalah is the only way to change the world, and our lives. Religion as YOU think it is - will not. It brought only war. I hope you willl publish this comment of mine.

(21) Avi Orlan, January 25, 2011 2:20 PM

Right on the money

Thank you for being the only one that I know of with the guts to publicly state what is the truth. You deserve a lot of credit.

(20) shimon, January 25, 2011 2:18 PM

long spiritual jurney

Nistarot hen darkei hashem. the ways of hashem are clandestine to us. and every soul has a jurney that it goes thrugh in order to fulfill its Tikun or correction.some people go and try all different religions and end up in judaisim because that is what talks to his soul. this jurny also has to do with our experience from previous life. it is a long jurny over numerous life cycles that the soul goes thrugh in its altimate correction and placement in the large puzzel which is the original soul of adam.

(19) ruth housman, January 25, 2011 1:45 PM

one person's "take" on the CABAL

When the Kabbalah Center opened up in Newton, MA, next to Bill's pizza (reminding me in this context of the movie, Mystic Pizza, and Bill's now expanded into this space), well I was excited and took myself to the Center to look around. I saw ONLY books by Rav Berg, and so I said, You know, there are so many writers on this subject, and you only sell and promote one person. The following took place: The woman behind the desk said, "If you don't leave right now, I will call the Police!" I am saying, this was a very mild question, and not really meant to provoke. After this I was thinking, you do not sell Jewish mysticism because this is a profound journey of soul, and to go into these depths takes a deep learning and comprehension that this is a very delicate journey, that must be undertaken with good guides, or in solitary study, but not an enterprise that is the cheapening, or selling of what is at the core of all spirituality. I did call once, to ask a question, to test this out, and the young man had really no knowledge of his subject. This I did know. On the other hand, why is G_d, promoting this? I say this because I see a movement, a definite timing to history itself and to uncovering of truths about ourselves, and I do believe that in this dialogue, on line, and elsewhere, among ourselves and in solitary, that something is "happening". I think there are seekers, and yes, we find our way to places, sometimes we stumble into them, and at other times there is a definite feeling of being led. And so I put codicils on what I am saying, knowing and feeling, as you do, that this is not the Royal Road to the deepest of knowledge. For me, it's a sacred act, to study Kabbalah, and to sell it, so blatantly, in this way, feels to me, wrong, and to not promote others, whose works are equally deep and beyond, is not right, and not in the spirit of the study itself.

(18) David Merrill, January 25, 2011 1:36 PM

Narrow view Salamon.

While these things may not be the Kaballah in the same sense that you understand it, these people are learning and enjoying a spiritual path. It may be obvious that certain people do not have the time and energy around their professional careers to develop a Torah understanding the same as you but just the same they are finding and pursuing a deeper knowledge and relationship. I certainly can appreciate that you do not like the word to be hijacked like this, especially when the alleged rabbi is making a killing. What I really hear in your video is that you want to preserve the essence of the Kaballah and historic traditions that Jews who have the time and energy enjoy as a mystical spiritual path. I have no training except books about Kaballah - Gershon SALAMON mostly. But I explored into some of the physics of the Sepher Yesirah and found the 72-Fold Name everywhere! It was a wonderful experience for me. I am glad that nobody tried discouraging me to "stay away". Regards, David Merrill.

(17) Anonymous, January 25, 2011 1:02 PM

Finally a voice of reason

Thank you Rabbi for speaking the truth. Spirituality without understanding of Torah is vainity.

(16) Dori, January 25, 2011 1:01 PM

Well put -mainstream Jewish standpoint

What Rabbi Salomon says is succinctly put and firmly rooted in traditional mainstream Judaism. His using this Aish platform is immaterial. He could say it from anywhere mainstream Jewish. People - Jewish or otherwise - who are looking for meaning/spirituality/mysticism and feel attracted to this so-called Kabbalah need to be alerted. I suspect few people find the way to real Judaism from here; in my book the example cited by "Anon" is very rare. Perhaps most stop attending because it is just a fad. What interests me is all those Jews going to Buddhism, failing to realise they could have all the spirituality they want right here at home. You want a short Mantra? Say the Shema three times in a row. Or even just some of the phrases used at Yom Kippur, such as Adoshem Hu Elokim You want a long one? Try the Amidah...

(15) Anonymous, January 25, 2011 12:03 PM

A start

There are many paths to Judaism. Even if someone starts doing something for the wrong reason, it may eventually turn out to be the right reason. Has anyone thought that perhaps someone may embark on an eroneous path, but when they discover it is fake, then because a seed has been planted they will seek out the real deal? I know of a woman and her family who started with Jews for J, but as soon as they realised it was simple idolatry with a veneer of Judaism they left it, never to return, but are completely shomer mitzvoth Orthodox Jews now years later. Everything is created for G-d's glory, and so one never knows how those people will as a result of this realise that they should seek G-d first, and as such then embark on learning about the true Torah basics.

(14) Anonymous, January 25, 2011 11:49 AM

important to say and well said.

important to say and well said.

(13) Jennifer, January 25, 2011 4:40 AM

Right on - search for spirituality

Well said! Most people are searching for meaning and spirituality in their lives. Unfortunately, in our society today we are looking for the 'quick fix'. True sprituality is gained by hard work, study, tears and introspection and it is not gained over night, and it is not easy to attain. May Hashem guide us all who are searching and growing, myself included!

(12) James Kendall, January 25, 2011 4:09 AM

Well said Saloman

Ever since the kabbalah began in the US, the very first thing that stuck out to me was: What Rabbi was teaching this to Madonna? I have very little knowledge about kabbalah, but I know enough to know that Hollywood celebs don't have the background or time to understand any deep spirituality on their own. While I agree that understanding the Torah is first and foremost in beginning one's journey into understanding Judaism, I would recommend to my fellow non-Jews out there to pick up the writings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Many of his writings are quite easy to pick up and get a lot of good information from them.

(11) Dman, January 25, 2011 12:25 AM

It is not loshan Hora if it is used to teach the masses an important lesson. The Torah itself speaks down about certain individuals throughout the bible, is the Torah speaking Loshan Hara? No, it's there to teach us a lesson. Don't be foolish and nieve Mr Jonathan C

(10) Andy, January 24, 2011 8:02 PM

Does it work?

I've read that the relationship between popular kabbalah and the real deal is like the relationship between pornography and intimacy. I've also heard Rabbis say Madonna and other media stars can reach people that Aish and similar organizations have not so maybe that's a hidden positive. A question I would like to know the answer to is that after many years in existence what has been the effect on those who have studied Kabbalah without first having experienced a more basic Torah education? Have they grown as defined by Torah values?

(9) malka, January 24, 2011 1:21 PM

Jonathan Cymberknopf

people who openly flaunt thart they will "no longer donate to a cause" because one person said something they dont like is in effect an adult tantrum. Also, it is in poor tase to flaunt your donations. And rest assured, that if you don't donate to Aish, Hashem will make sure that someone else will pick up where you left off.

(8) Leila, January 23, 2011 10:16 PM

True Kabbalah cannot exist outside of Torah. The way I understand through my studies is that Torah is our guidebook. It gets us in the habit of obeying Hashem- of conforming our lives to His will. It is an instruction manual for living holy. My studies in Kabbalah have functioned to explain even further the things I learn from Torah, reconciling my faith my science and giving me a more clear understanding of Hashem.

(7) Anonymous, January 23, 2011 6:50 PM

Who is teaching it?

Who is the teacher? That is the question to ask whether the kabbalah that is being taught is authentic. There is all different kinds of kabbalah being taught out there, by alot of different types of teachers. Some Jewish, some not Jewish at all. You can find kabbalah teaching in christian and muslim also. If you say Ashton isn't into the real thing, does Ashton care if he isn't? The Torah is full of examples of what NOT to do by our people that made wrong choices. Give people some credit of having some brains. Does one only study what they agree with, being the case, would we study Torah agreeing with the bad choices we find in it?

(6) Rabbi Gabriel, January 23, 2011 3:13 PM

He is absolutely correct...

1) this is not in any way Lashon Horoh...See Kitzur Shulchan Oruch, Hilchois Loshon Horoh...See Seifer Chofetz Chaim. 2) To keep people form false worship and idolatry Loshon Horoh would be permitted.

(5) LS, January 23, 2011 3:04 PM

The point was not to attack anyone and this doesn't constitute Lashon Hara. Rabbi Salomon is explaining the reality that it is NOT Kabbalah that's being studied by these celebrities and it IS, as he stated, a farce. There are parts of Kabbalah that can be understood at a rather superficial level without memorizing the entire Talmud. However, to make something meaningful and functional out of those deep Kabbalistic ideas a very basic understanding of Torah (at the very least) is required.

(4) Chavi, January 23, 2011 2:45 PM

the truth hurts

to #1: It is not lashon hara when something is said for a beneficial purpose, which this blog certainly does. Learning from all sources, across the spectrum, will only lead to utter confusion. I suggest that you stick with Chabad and Aish if you really want true, authentic Jewish values and thoughts.

(3) Anonymous, January 23, 2011 2:34 PM

Thank you Rabbi

This needs to be said , again , and again ,,,,, Let these Movie Stars , or anyone , study what they like ,,,, But , DON'T call it Kabbalah ,,,, because it isn't ! ,, Thank you Reb

(2) Uri Yitzchak, January 23, 2011 2:18 PM

Rabbi Salomon is 100% correct in his statement. Plain and simple, any ideas that don't have their source in Torah True Judaism are just bogus. By the way, it is a Mitzvah to warn others about dangerous things, not at all Lashon Hara. Let's learn the facts in depth before judging others

(1) Jonathan Cymberknopf, January 23, 2011 12:55 PM

disapointed

I'm very Disappointed on this 2:54 assessment by this Rabbi. Lashon Hara is a terrible thing. Personally I learn from all sources, from aish.com, from my Conservative Temple, from Chabad and yes from the Kabbalah Centre. Very disappointed witht his attack ad from aish and if it continues I wll have to stop donating money to aish. This "Rabbi" should be ashamed of himself.

Sarah, March 7, 2015 1:10 PM

Agree

I totally agree with you.

 

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