Philip Berg-a Eulogy from a Rabbinic Perspective

The Rabbinic world isn’t what it used to be.  It used to be the great rabbis came exclusively from the yeshivah (study hall) and earned their reputations purely on the virtue of their scholarship.   The great villains of the Rabbinic world also came from there but distorted the message.  Some even fell into both categories and were either vindicated only post-humus such as the Rambam (Maimonides).  Today, the rabbis of greatest note are there as a force of their charisma and popularity rather than their piety and wisdom, what I have called the shin jin ryu of rabbis.

If anyone typifies this latter category, it is Philip Berg.  Philip Berg took the age-old teachings of Kabbalah to the masses and even non-Jews.  In doing so he has left a dubious legacy.  I know in one post I won’t get the whole story but I’d like to at least contribute my own insights and knowledge that I have learned about the man, the Kabbalah center, and the teachings as well as some gleaned from various articles.  I seek not to eulogize, but to analyze this individual whose name conjures up very strong feelings for many different types of people.

I welcome corrections from anyone who would like to contribute:

Philip Berg was actually holding in Kabbalah.  He believed himself to be the rightful successor of  Rabbi Brandwein (possibly his uncle or father-in-law) as Rosh HaYeshiva (head of the yeshiva) of Yeshiva Kol Yehuda, and took the step of publishing the Kabbalistic prayerbook Tefillah L’Ani with his name as Rosh Yeshiva in the front pages before being given the position officially.  Brandwein’s son ended up taking the position and disavowed knowledge of Berg.  My friend has a copy of one of those old siddurim.  He received smicha (ordination) from Yeshiva Torah v’Daat in Brooklyn which is a highly respected institution so he knew the niglah (revealed Torah) as well.  The total picture is that he had some right to call himself a scholar.

His personal life, especially as it relates to the Kabbalah center, reflects something quite different.  Berg was 44 when he married his second wife Karen  in 1971, who is 18 years his junior.  Some sources suggest there may have been overlap between his first marriage to Rivka and his relationship with then-secretary Kathy (now Karen Berg).  At any rate, the fact that Karen was not religious until having encountered Berg raised serious questions in the minds of the rabbinic world both about the relationship and Berg’s religiosity in general.  No rabbi I have ever met has married someone who was not already on board with Judaism for a significant length of time.   In the ba’al tshuvah (newly religious) seminaries, they generally tell the girls not to even date for a year after they first enter so that they have a solid foundation on which to build a Jewish home.

You can read in the various articles about the inspiration and the scandal, Madonna and tax fraud.  The only thing I can offer to the conversation my personal exposure to it:

My first time encountering the Kabbalah Center was in Dizengoff in Tel Aviv.  I noticed a few things: they only had their own books for sale and none of the kabbalah classics except for the famous blue Zohar.  There was a mehitza (dividing curtain) between the men and women but it was so low you could step over it.  There were a lot of people wearing white and they did this weird thing during kaddish where the guy used a pointer to circle around a big poster of the names of G-d on the wall and there was some shouting at random times.  Otherwise it was basically just a regular Jewish service.

The people I have met who are involved keep speaking about “the Light”, obviously referring to G-d.  The difference between the Jewish G-d and the G-d of the Kabbalah center is the personal relationship.  Basically, reward and punishment doesn’t sell books, so the issue doesn’t seem to be discussed in Kabbalah Center literature frequently, despite occupying a feature role in the Zohar.

There is a major argument between the Kabbalah Center and the rabbinic community about whether the Kabbalah Center teaches real kabbalah.  My experience with members is that it does not.  For example, I was sitting with one guy in the sukkah when I was still in smicha.   I asked him what gevurah meant.  He said severity, which happens to be the literal translation.  I asked him what that meant.  Not a clue.  My friend in smicha with me helped make the guy’s head spin, me emphasizing theory and he practice.  The guy probably learned more about kabbalah in one night with us than he did in all of his time and money at the Kabbalah Center.

The other observation I had about the Kabbalah Center was around the stuff they do.  Everyone is of course familiar with the red string bracelet, which you could easily make yourself but then you wouldn’t get the special energy associated with spending $26 on it.  I’ve seen people staring in siddurim with patterns of letters they don’t understand, a guy using his luluv to sword fight the yetzer hara (evil inclination), and heard the story of my friend’s cousin who summoned his energy by wiping the sides of his body.  I’ve been in the company of a number of mekuballim (kabbalists) and spent many a Shabbat at the yeshiva of Rav Yitzhak Kaduri, the greatest mekubal of the last generation.  None of them did this stuff.  Could it be that the Kabbalah Center gets its members to do weird stuff so they won’t fit in with the Jewish community and have to keep coming by them?

Phillip Berg accomplished something very few rabbis have ever done.  He built a worldwide network of adoring followers, Jew and non-Jew and died very wealthy.    While the books the Center sells weren’t terribly expensive, it’s a sweet deal getting your followers to give over 10-20% of their assets as a religious duty.  However, the way in which he accomplished this feat is suspect at best, criminal at worst.  Perhaps that is for the IRS to investigate, which apparently they are.  The facts are clear though: you can get what the Kabbalah Center offers cheaper and better, from rabbis such as myself, and I am not holding at a particularly high level.

The real question however is who is the real G-d, the G-d of Berg or the G-d Israel?  The answer isn’t just theoretical.

http://us.shalomlife.com/news/20474/rabbi-philip-berg-kabbalah-teacher-to-madonna-ashton-kutcher-dies-at-86/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Berg

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-kabbalah-founder-philip-berg-dead-at-84-20130916,0,7617844.story

http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/Hollywoods-Kabbalah-guru-Philip-Berg-dies-326373

http://kabbalah.com/

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-kaballah-founders-story-part-two,0,4137283.htmlstory

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106 Responses to Philip Berg-a Eulogy from a Rabbinic Perspective

  1. houmuss33 says:

    Rabbi,

    Thanks for your insight and experiences. A good article but saying “you can get what the Kabbalah Center offers cheaper and better” lets Berg wriggle off the hook. You’re reinforcing the validity of the message, only suggesting that you can get it better and cheaper somewhere else.

    Adin Steinsaltz is less forgiving: The connection between pop-culture Kabbalah and the real thing “is the relationship between
    pornography and love”

    In other words, along with water and red strings, the other major item for sale here is …heresy.

    • Good point. However, it goes beyond heresy. It points to my major complaint about the American concept of religion: it’s a consumer product, not about the service of G-d. If the issue then is simply what product to pick, then I’m simply saying that on top of anything else the product itself isn’t nearly what it’s hyped to be.

      • NOTARABBI says:

        The Kabbalah Centre calls itself a bookstore. Almost all of their books are written by the Berg family who own & operate the organization. Billy Phillips is a head teacher who represents the organization through his blogs & “bookstores”. He is actually a Christian missionary & the Centre is actually like “Jews For Jesus”. However, the Centre also sells books by a leading Jewish Kabbalist, the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan never endorsed Jesus, as the Kabbalah Centre now does. Nor did Rabbi Kaplan condemn Judaism, as the Centre does. In fact, Rabbi Kaplan wrote an essay, along with other rabbis, refuting that Jesus was the messiah or that Judaism has been replaced by groups like the Kabbalah Centre & Jews For Jesus. Rabbi Kaplan & Rav Berg both received education at Torah V’Daas. Here is an excerpt from Rabbi Kaplan’s essay, which can be used to describe the way Jews should respond to Billy Phillips & the Kabbalah Centre cult, like Jews For Jesus:

        “Very often, in an attempt to respond to a missionary challenge,
        one can make a number of seemingly logical moves which, in fact, play directly into the hands of the missionaries. Therefore, a number of Jewish communal leaders have prepared these guidelines for dealing on the spot with missionaries and their followers.

        A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO
        THE MISSIONARY PROBLEM

        1) You will not win hearts to Torah by trying to convince people that the claims of Christianity are false. Spend your time learning, teaching and explaining the meaning of the Torah and its Mitzvos. Better still, invite a person who is in search of religious values to a Shabbaton, or to your home for Shabbat. Let the truth and beauty of Torah and its way of life restore people to the right path.

        2) Do not argue with missionaries; do not lend credence or dignity to their efforts at soul snatching. There are tens of millions of non-practicing Christians in this country who are better targets for their efforts.

        3) Missionaries are usually closed-minded fanatics. They are trained to respond to your arguments with pat, almost memorized answers. If they can’t handle your objection, they will deflect it by raising another, and still another point. Even if you win—you lose.

        4) Do not debate, dialogue or argue with missionaries. Missionaries often seek to engage Jews in public discussion. Do not be drawn into this utterly fruitless exercise. Above all, do not invite missionaries or their followers to address meetings under Jewish auspices. Such hospitality only gives the missionary cause institutional dignity and legitimacy. On the other hand, do not publicly attack or abuse the missionaries; this merely serves to surround them with an aura of martyrdom, to our loss. Our essential obligation is to shore up our Jewishness.

        5) Do not be taken in by the “Jewish Christian” ploy. Some missionary groups appeal specifically to Jews with the specious notion that those joining them are thereby “completed” or “fulfilled” as Jews. This is patently incompatible with Jewish tradition and conviction. Conversion to Christianity or any other faith is an abandonment of Judaism. We must strive, with loving concern, to restore erring individuals to their own faith and community.

        6) Do not lose your “cool.” The style of the missionaries is likely to be cool and affable. Emulate it. When they come smiling to the door, respond politely—firmly but with no recrimination—“No, thanks, I’m not interested,” or some brief and definitive equivalent.

        7) Get the facts. Fact-finding is a “must.” This is an indispensable step. Until the actual situation in the community has been established, planning cannot proceed intelligently. Are Jews, as Jews, being missionized? By whom, from what centers or sources? In what settings and by what means—in schools, through coffee houses, “drop-in” centers, via the communications media, prayer meetings, home study groups, bookmobiles?”

        – The rest of the essay, refuting Jesus as the messiah & cults like the Kabbalah Centre, can be read FOR FREE here:

        http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/the_real_messiah.pdf

        • So Billy did invent this. Oh wow. I guess he didn’t realize who he started with. 🙂

          • NOTaRabbi, Shabbat Shalom says:

            This is a new quote from Billy’s official Rav Berg-founded, Kabbalah Centre-approved blog, clearly endorsing Jesus as messiah (sometimes only ben Joseph, to leave options open that he’s not truly endorsing an idol). He also characterizes Sephardic Jews as being just like Christians, worshipping Rabbi Shimon, as Christians worship Jesus. He also refers to anti-kabbalists who destroyed the Temple. He means Jews & has previously said so. He ultimately endorses & justifies the Trinity & Christianityas pure Torah, when practiced through his cult’s understanding of kabbalah. He argues that Jesus crucifixion is all a necessary parable & that paganism was necessary to lead people TO Zohar. He doesn’t say Torah. But it’s hard to imagine paganism leads people TO Torah & not AWAY! But that’s his cult’s supposed understanding of kabbalah…that Judaism is the source of all chaos…and paganism in anti-Jewish Christianity both protects Jews & leads them & Gentiles TO Torah. And of course, he defends opposition to Rav Berg’s cult to opposition to Moses, as a way of demonstrating an example of Jews being the source of chaos & opposed to kabbalah. In another blog post, he attributes Karen Berg with being the reincarnation of Eve & the current leader of all humanity. Here’s a short example of his endorsement of Jesus:

            “Like all the Kabbalists of history, up to Rav Berg and Karen Berg, the Kabbalists were slandered, defamed and murdered to keep the truths of Zohar from reaching the people. This is what took place on Mount Sinai with the building of the Golden Calf and the rebellion against Moses.CompositeJesus
            Jesus was a Kabbalist. He was the Messiah, sent to bring salvation to all the pagan nations.
            They will never let go of him — and they are not supposed to — according to Kabbalist Rav David Valle and the prophet Zechariah. The power that the gentile world feels in Jesus is the Zohar. This is the same reason why the Israelites, particularly the Sephardic people throughout history, never let go of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai. They revere Rav Shimon, the author of the Zohar, the way gentiles revere Jesus. Sephardic people seek the help of Rabbi Shimon to bring forth miracles, the way Christians turn to Jesus for their miracles.
            This is the way it was supposed to be.
            The secrets of Zohar were concealed inside Christianity because the Kabbalists knew that the Torah, the Temple and all the secret teachings were going to be destroyed by the anti-Kabbalists two thousand years ago. And it came close to happening.”

    • It seems that you hold of Berg quite highly. I’m not familiar with the Brandwein situation but I know for a fact there are several misrepresentations of the Kabbalistic sages you mentioned. The Ashlag was regarded quite highly and approbations for his work can be found by the great rabbis of his generation: the Belzer Rebbe, the Gerrer Rebbe, and Rav Zunnenfeld, and those approbations are in fact printed in the Sulam Zohars. Moshe De Leon was suspected of fraud because of the questionable origin of the manuscripts which hadn’t been seen in 1300 years. There was very good reason to be suspect. Rav Luzzato got in trouble because his actions came in the wake of Shabbatai Tzvi, who really did damage the Jewish community through his misuse of the Kabbalah.
      So the question is: is Berg a Luzzato figure or a Shabbatai Tzvi figure? You seem convinced of the former. Please explain why.

    • You also conveniently ignore that all Kabbalists are rabbis and most of them never had any issues. The Ramban is one of the two or three most important commentaries on the Torah and he was considered to be the last of having the complete Kabbalah. The Ricanati, the Ohr HaChaim, the Hida, Maran Beit Yosef, the Ben Ish Hai, the Leshem, Rav Kaduri the list goes on and on.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      You present yourself with a lie & still expect people to trust you as a kabbalist!

      • NOTARABBI says:

        More of those “untransformed” Israelites that Billy & his cult blame “all the world’s chaos” on & whose former spokesperson said he was quoting Karen when he referred to Jewish Israelis as “usurpers, occupiers, impostors, & not real Israelites”, when the Kabbalah Centre took their students to “show solidarity with the native people of the land”, by waving Palestinian flags in Shechem while calling their Israeli soldier escorts, “Nazis”, & referring to Zionism as “fanaticism”…even though they claim to have no political agenda & only a spiritual message of removing ego to unite people.
        Yehuda referred to religious Jews at holy sites in Israel, including the Western Wall, as “those others”, “hostiles”, who “don’t even learn kabbalah”, & said he was quoting his father, the Rav, as saying that religious Jews praying at Rabbi Shimon’s tomb & other sites were, “not even human”, but like insects, drawn to heat,” moths to the flame”. Some of his students have since been burnt by getting too close to him:

        http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/01/21/64698.htm

        HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnIAA9UIySM#t=148

        http://culteducation.com/group/1008-kabbalah-centre.html

        http://truthaboutkabbalah.wordpress.com

        https://www.facebook.com/ExKabbalahCultMembers

        • Philip Berg, who worked his whole life to spread some type of Judaism, held this position about his fellow Jews? I don’t believe it. His kids were already raised outside of the community and were probably never accepted in Jewish circles for what daddy was doing so I don’t know you can necessarily attribute it back. I could be wrong. I’d like proof of any of these statements.

          • NOTaRabbi, Shabbat Shalom says:

            I don’t mean to disagree with you, Rabbi Kotkin, but I learned in that organization for years & you were right not to, as you were correct in writing this article. You can see that the Centre is not Jewish, as it promotes Jesus & denounces traditional Judaism right here on this comment section, even condemning you along with the rest of the religious community that the Centre portrays as “anti-kabbalah”. They clearly designate Jesus as messiah & blame Jews for still rejecting him. That’s not Jewish. But that’s what Billy, a representative of the Rav’s Centre & his close student, has written.

            As for my experience, my own teacher told me these things in the name of his teacher & the Rav. Specifically, we were in Jerusalem & my teacher told me that he was interested in understanding how & why I “connect” or pray at the Western Wall, since his teacher taught him that it was a negative place because of the religious Jews who pray there. He said that some of them were not even human but something like shape-shifters. It’s bizarre, I know. I didn’t just accept that. I was determined to prove him wrong. So, he agreed to check at the Kotel, so long as I’d escort him. I was amazed that he needed me to escort him & that he was obviously fearful, for his life even. He rushed through, nervous & rushed out, I think confused, since he seemed already convinced to be afraid of something I’ll never quite understand.

            I’d been praying in a minyan that was lead by one of the other students of Rav Brandwein, for years before going to Berg’s group, right there by the left side at the entrance to the men’s section, before Shabbat. And I would have kiddush at his home. I prayed among hundreds, if not thousands, of minyanim comprised of an ever-turning selection of Jews from around the world & Israel, everyday. They are not “hostiles”, or “moths”. They ARE ALL human. Berg’s students are the ones who don’t really “connect to the light”. But I hope you can see that Yehuda is not talking about just some people. He’s calling the average Jew at Rabbi Shimon’s grave, “others”, etc. I always prefer to pray at the Kotel, because it’s where I feel most connects us to each other & the land, the Torah, our history, & of course, HaShem. Shabbat Shalom.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs5NOldXj2s&feature=youtu.be

          • I hope you’ve found traditional Judaism more to your liking. Shavua Tov.

          • NOTaRabbi, Shabbat Shalom says:

            And just to point out, you just wrote of Berg,

            “His kids were already raised outside of the community and were probably never accepted in Jewish circles for what daddy was doing…”

            And you refer to his Centre’s work as spreading,

            “some type of Judaism…”

            But the Centre itself does not claim to be spreading ANY “type of Judaism”. I quoted Billy, from the link you posted above, when he said that kabbalah & religion (meaning Judaism) are opposing forces.

            You already know that Berg raised his family “outside” of Judaism, “for what daddy was doing”.
            So, why are you asking me? You seem to accept that Berg was outside of Judaism, as the basis of your article.

            And again, during my first year at the Centre, a longtime student who donates her skills to recording the Centre’s classes, explicit ally told me that she learned, directly from the Rav, that Jesus was the messiah. The head chèvre had to convince me she was incorrect, for me to continue going there, because I’m Jewish. But she insisted the Rav taught that Jesus was the messiah, as Billy also, clearly has.

            Respectfully, what “type of Judaism” is the Centre promoting Jesus & denouncing religious Judaism as “anti-kabbalah, hostile, others”, in your estimation, Rabbi Kotkin?

          • What I mean by some type of Judaism is not that it’s Judaism that I would acknowledge as authentic Judaism but any one of the various split-off groups: Sadducees, Karaites, Reform etc… That it would have still preserved some Jewish trappings. I think the three groups I’ve mentioned have also spent a considerable amount of time trashing and being hostile to traditional Judaism, but would still be a Judaism. Introducing J pops it outside.

          • NOTaRabbi, Shabbat Shalom says:

            I’d been shomer Shabbat for years, before going to the Centre. And when I first began going there for classes, I was still keeping Shabbos with my religious friends & family. But my Centre teachers confronted me about it, and quite clearly told me to stop attending Shabbat with Orthodox Jews, in order to unify with the Centre community. I was told to drive to the Centre on Shabbat, rather than hear the Torah reading anywhere but at the Centre. Since my former community necessarily lacked connection by virtue of being traditional religious Jews whose scrolls were likely not even kosher & whose followers must lack consciousness, I was better off driving to a place where there is no mehitzah at all & where non Jews who only “scan” the siddur call themselves Israelites & jews impostors, lacking consciousness, hostiles, others, anti-kabbalah, untransformed, & the source of negativity in the world by separating the genders during prayers, as Karen stated in the video posted below.

  2. Berry Helfand says:

    Dear Rabbi:
    It’s hard for me to understand why you felt it necessary to write this article, other than to assassinate someone’s character. Having said that, you invited comments and corrections…so here are mine.

    First, in full disclosure, I am a long time student of the Kabbalah Centre going on 14 years. I not only took classes with Rav Berg and many of the other teachers at the Centre, but I was privileged to know The Rav personally. He was an incredible soul who’s teachings significantly changed my life and the lives of thousands like me… for the better. He was an inspirational leader and role model who talked the talk… and walked the walk. While he could definitely be considered a rebel who bucked the “religious establishment”, he did so in order to spread wisdom and light and making ancient teachings available to as many people in the world as possible… without judging who they are or how they live their lives. He championed the cause that Kabbalah is for everyone…. man, women, or child. This, of course is in direct defiance to the religious establishment who would have loved to keep Kabbalah just for themselves and those they saw as “worthy”. He spent most his life tirelessly teaching and practically writing an entire library of scholarly works. While there are those from the “religious establishment” – seemingly like yourself – who would accuse The Rav of teaching an illegitimate form of Kabbalah… nothing could be farther from the truth. There is hardly a concept, precept or proverb that is in one of his books or that I learned in all these years that couldn’t be directly attributed to a great Kabbalist… from Rav Ashlag… to the Baal Shem Tov… to The Ari. The only thing that seems to be illegitimate here is your self-professed lack of expertise about the The Rav and the Kabbalah Centre… yet you apparently feel obliged to comment on when you haven’t even taken one class. I admit, as a long time student, I’m probably not without bias. Nevertheless, I will attempt to stay away from any personal feelings and simply stick to the facts.

    Rabbi Brandwein:
    It is a matter of public record that Rav Berg was a student of Rabbi Brandwein and related to him by marriage to his first wife. The nature of the relationship between Rabbi Brandwein and The Rav is also a matter of fact… not speculation… as can be gleaned from the personal, hand-written letters Rabbi Brandwein sent to The Rav, always referring to The Rav as “Beloved of My Soul”. Whether or not Brandwein’s son disavowed knowledge of The Rav as you have reported, it is also a fact that one of Brandwein’s sons not only attended the wedding of The Rav and Karen…. he helped organize it. He did so, not because he wanted to, but rather because he claimed his father, Rabbi Brandwein came to him in a dream and told him to do it. The wedding photos tell the whole story… but you can watch the video here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb_XECubih4

    Kabbalistic prayerbook Tefillah L’Ani :
    What you neglect to mention about this siddur, is that your beloved Kabbalist, Rav Yitzhak Kaduri actually wrote a letter endorsing that siddur. While it is true that Kaduri later rescinded that approbation — in my opinion, because of political pressure rather than religious prudence – It’s hard to believe that such a well respected Kabbalist could have simply “made a mistake” in endorsing the siddur.

    YOU WROTE:
    ….”Some sources suggest there may have been overlap between his first marriage to Rivka and his relationship with then-secretary Kathy (now Karen Berg)”.
    No one except the couple could ever know the truth about this… Therefore, it’s pure gossip. Shame on you. Is this really what you want to teach your students? You make implications of impropriety, yet you have absolutely not one shred of experience or proof. Do you study the Perkei Avot? There is a teaching that I think could help you with this:

    Do not leap to judge another person
    “Judge every person favorably” (1:6) “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.” (2:5)

    YOU WROTE:
    “The people I have met who are involved keep speaking about “the Light”, obviously referring to G-d.”
    I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR APPARENT PROBLEM WITH THIS?
    Certainly, as a Rabbi, you must know that every respected Kabbalist refers to “The Light” or “The Light of the Creator” in this fashion.

    YOU WROTE:
    “There was a mehitza (dividing curtain) between the men and women but it was so low you could step over it”.
    As a Rabbi, I think you are aware that there are many varying customs and practices that are as legitimate as any Law in the Torah. (called Minchag) amongst different congregations. Many “orthodox” sephardics eat rice on Pesach while I suspect you would consider that wrong for yourself. Do you condemn this practice too?

    YOU WROTE:
    “There is a major argument between the Kabbalah Center and the rabbinic community about whether the Kabbalah Center teaches real kabbalah. My experience with members is that it does not.”
    Honestly, any congregation, even at the Orthodox level can have students at various levels from advanced… to basic. I’m sure I could go to any Chabad and find students who knew next to nothing about what they are studying… and those who are scholars. The same can be said about the Centre. Perhaps, if you are interested in being fair, you should interview one of the teachers at the Centre and put them to your “test”. At least this would begin to approach a decent and honest opinion.

    RED STRING
    You say that anyone could “easily” make the red string themselves… BUT THIS JUST ISN’T TRUE. Every Red String The Centre sells has been taken to Rachel’s Tomb located in the West Bank under Arab control. The Centre must travel to the grave site, under armed guard, then wrap the string around the tomb 7 times, reciting meditation and prayers to help imbue the string with the qualities of protection — a significant amount of work… and a tradition which is practiced by many Orthodox Jews, who then also sell the string for a profit. If one wants to buy official Chabad Tzit-tzit made in Israel, Ben’s Tallit Shop will sell it to you for almost $100… yet it’s just a piece of wool and some string that anyone could “easily” tie themselves. http://tzitzit.tallit-shop.com/chabad-tallit/

    On the issue of money and tithing. YOU WROTE:
    “While the books the Center sells weren’t terribly expensive, it’s a sweet deal getting your followers to give over 10-20% of their assets as a religious duty. However, the way in which he accomplished this feat is suspect at best, criminal at worst. Perhaps that is for the IRS to investigate, which apparently they are. ”
    As we just learned in this week’s parsha, Lech Lecha, it is a mitzvah — or as you might call it a commandment — to donate a percentage of every penny one makes.
    (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/92248/jewish/Lech-Lecha.htm) This, again, is common practice in Orthodox circles. Chabad has a branch in almost every major… and minor… city around the world. They do this through… you guessed it… donations and tithing! Chabad has amassed a fortune far exceeding anything the Centre has ever collected… yet, you don’t seem to have a problem there.

    As to the IRS allegations… many legitimate religious establishments have had their fair share of tax issues…. including a Chabad School which owes the US Gov. almost a half million dollars in taxes… which they’ve neglected to pay for almost 10 years.
    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2012/12/irs-seizes-chabad-yeshiva-synagogue-345.html
    The difference being that the Chabad Yeshiva was actually found guilty of tax-evasion, while there have only been allegations and accusations with the Centre. Either way, according to the press, the Centre is completely cooperating with the IRS investigation.

    Also, you seem to have a problem with The Rav’s so-called wealth. Yes, The Rav resided in Beverly Hills, as do MOST OF THE ORTHODOX JEWISH RABBIS IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD because that’s where their Synagogues are located. The Rav’s house is average in comparison to all the other houses in the neighborhood… and about the same as most of the Rabbis’ I’ve seen. The big difference… the Rav has hundreds of thousands of students all over the world (According to the press) and most of the other Rabbis supervise a congregation of a few hundred. In light of that, The Rav’s house is quite modest. Nevertheless, if you’re still worried about wealth…one of the greatest rabbis in Jewish History, Rabbi Judah HaNassi, was also one of the wealthiest men of his day, yet you seem to equivocate wealth with wrong doing.
    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/69937/jewish/The-Big-Deal-About-Rich-People.htm

    Lastly, as the “College Rabbi” here’s an important lesson, courtesy of Jewfaq.com:

    “…Lashon Ha-ra is equal in seriousness to murder, idol worship, and incest/adultery (the only three sins that you may not violate even to save a life).

    “It is forbidden to even imply or suggest negative things about a person. It is forbidden to say negative things about a person, even in jest. It is likewise considered a “shade of lashon ha-ra” to say positive things about a person in the presence of his enemies, because this will encourage his enemies to say negative things to contradict you!

    One who tells disparaging things that are false is referred to as a motzi sheim ra, that is, one who spreads a bad report. This is considered the lowest of the low.”

    Rabbi, despite the fact that it’s difficult not to feel hurt by the things you printed here I do not seek to hurt you. I simply think it’s important to tell the truth… and I wish you and your family nothing but blessings and love. And, if by chance, I have hurt you… please forgive me.

    • Reb Berry,

      Thank for writing this and accepting my invitation to comment.

      I understand that for many people, many Jews even, who have been personally touched by Berg and would defend him to the death. I understand that my exposure to the Kabbalah Centre has been minimal. Not non-existent but minimal. What I have been exposed to has led me to certain conclusions. You have given me plenty of places for me to properly explain my position.

      I understand my explanation will be perceived as an attack. Like you, I will try to stick to facts:

      The fact is is that it is not an elite group of scholars who “wants” to hold on to it: it’s a mandate from the Kabbalists before them. The Mishnah in Hagigah says that “Matters of Creation can only be discussed in front of two, and matters of the Chariot can only be discussed with one, and even then in front of one provided they can already understand on their own.” Bar Yohai himself takes an even stronger position in the Idrah Rabbah (part of the Zohar) where he debates with himself even revealing what he was about to, and that was just to a select group of scholars.

      Something you just said supports my point well. You claim all of Berg’s teachings are found within the works of the Baal Shem Tov, the Ari…I haven’t met one non-Israeli Kabbalah Center member who could check his work i.e. read the sources in the origin Hebrew or Aramaic. That’s a big deal. He could be telling you anything and he’s not giving you the tools to question.

      Rabbi Brandwein:
      I received all of my information about him from the articles I found on the ‘net, which I listed at the bottom of the article. There were conflicting reports on their relationship. I never said they weren’t father-in-law son-in-law. It is an undeniable fact he did not take over for his father-in-law. If he was as esteemed a kabbalist as is claimed, he should have. Getting passed over for the position is significant no matter what the circumstances.

      I have to retain professional skepticism to whether his father-in-law visited him in a dream or not, meaning I can neither prove nor disprove the claim, just like I can’t prove or disprove Paul’s vision of Jesus, Joseph Smith’s visit from Moroni, Muhammad’s visit from Gabriel etc… No one was there to substantiate his claim because no one is in his dream. It can not be used as proof that he was doing the right thing or what Brandwein told him.

      The Siddur:
      I didn’t say there was anything wrong with the siddur. I have a siddur called Avodat HaKodesh which is mostly the same. I had a problem with Berg printing his name in it as the Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Yehuda if he never held the position, and that I have seen. That’s massive huztpah (audacity). I haven’t seen the endorsement. Get me a copy and I’ll be happy to comment on it.

      Berg’s relationship

      The laws of lashon hara (gossip) permit the repetition if ten people are aware of it, especially if one makes clear that they are not repeating it as true, as I was careful to do. Nonetheless, the Kabbalists were all exceedingly careful in the areas of shmirat habrit (sexual purity) and tzniut (modesty). Even the hint of suspicion of such a violation would have removed him from good standing in the inner circles.

      The Light

      That’s a massive problem that you don’t understand the problem with saying G-d is the Light. In my humble opinion, you could ask for all of the money back that you paid over the past 14 years. Every dime. In the first book of the Tanya Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi makes it as clear as day that just like light is just a pale reflection of its source (the Sun), and yet is not separate from it, so too is the permeation of G-dliness in this world just a pale reflection of G-d that is not detached from Him. Berg’s not only equates lowly worldly spiritually with G-d but cuts off the light from its source (a problem called kotzetz hanitiot by the Ramban, which he holds was Adam HaRishon’s sin).

      The Mehitza (Partion)
      You are correct that there are different minhagim among Jews. Some are legitimate and some are mistakes, and some are not minhagim at all but one particular individual (rabbi or not) decided to just start doing something. It doesn’t make it legitimate. The purpose of the mehitza is the subject of a discusion between Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yoel Teitlebaum (the Satmar Rebbe). Rav Moshe said the purpose of the mehitza is to keep men and women from talking while the Satmar Rebbe held it was to keep guys from checking out the girls. According to what I have learned Rav Moshe held the minimum was 48″. Even if you want to use the absolute minimal partition possible, the smallest opinion is about 32″ (which is the smallest opinion of what is called 10 tefahim, fist sizes). Below that isn’t considered to a partition at all according to Jewish custom.

      Teachers at the Centre
      You’re right. I think I should pop my head in at some point. Should I give you a head’s up when I do?

      The Red String
      If what you are saying about the red string is true. I would remove it immediately. You’re wearing an evil forces magnet right on your wrist. The Gemara in the sixth chapter of Tractate Berachot makes it clear it is forbidden to benefit from anything that serves the dead, so making a protective charm by using a tomb would be a very bad thing to do. Also, while the color red offers limited protection from the Evil Eye in cases where attention is already on you, like a bride customarily wears it at a wedding in some Jewish communities, for the most part red draws attention, the source of Evil Eye, which is why the Shulhan Arukh forbids it in the Laws of Sorcery. This is the problem learning “kabbalah” without the other bodies of Rabbinic literature. It’s not a complete picture and it’s the holes in the equation that are not only wrong but potentially dangerous.

      However, I don’t believe you that they do this. I can’t imagine any Orthodox rabbi allowing this blatant disrespect of the sanctity of Kever Rahel this way. It’s not Jewish tradition and we never did it. None of the kabbalists I’ve met have I seen wear one. Not Rav Kaduri, not the students of Yeshivat Beit El in the Old City, not Rav Gamliel Rabonitz, not Hacham Hillel, not any of the Chassidishe rebbes. None. Shouldn’t this raise an eyebrow?

      It’s a mitzvah to give tzedakah, a tenth is the proper amount. However, Jewish custom doesn’t dictate the individual you have give it to. A tenth of crops grown in Israel must be given to a Cohen (priest). However, no priest has a right to go and take it for himself or demand that an individual give THAT cohen. That’s the problem with what Berg was doing.

      The Chabad yeshiva isn’t allowed to engage in tax fraud any more than the Kabbalah Centre. Two wrongs don’t make a right. However, it’s one Habad yeshiva, not the entire movement. If 770 was directing the activities it would put cast aspersion on the entire movement in a way that one installation would not.

      I repeat. I have no problem that Berg had money. I had a problem that he used the holiest parts of the Torah as a cash cow. The Mishnah in Avot says “Do not use the Torah as a spade to dig with.” Of this he is unquestionably guilty, because he violated the prohibition of teaching Torah to non-Jews and he did it for a profit as it says in the Torah “Moses has commanded us the Torah, an inheritance for the community of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4). The Zohar mentions a similar prohibition. See http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Judaism/Ask-the-rabbi-May-a-Jew-teach-Torah-to-a-gentile

      I hope this clarifies my position more. Please let me know what you think. Kol Tov.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      Here’s a link to the video of Karen blaming the Jewish Ministry of Israel for blocking the protection that she apparently believes only her presence at holy sites in Israel can provide. She claims that her organization was the first to begin visiting holy sites in Israel. And she claims that these sites are no longer accessible. She also criticizes any separation between men & women. She even says men & women should use the mikveh together, since G*d does not separate between men and women. And finally, she says, “maybe there should be a war”, in response to Israel being in danger from Iran. She seems to explain that the Creator wants a war against Israel, since the danger Israel is in was brought upon itself through discrimination, particularly against her group. But I’ve always been able to visit the places she claims are locked. And I was going to them three decades ago with very old religious Jews who had been going to these sites for decades before me. And it’s possible that since Israel is relatively young & growing, that these changes at holy sites are just part of Israeli society developing & evolving. Maybe Karen just doesn’t like change. The country is building & changing. Perhaps there’s nothing nefarious going on at all, but Karen seems convinced otherwise & admits it’s not from kabbalah but just her opinion.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS97glfIeHs

  3. Do you want to reveal Light in this world? Do you want to truly uproot the Evil Inclination? Or do you want to be right and win an argument? If you want to truly live the life the Torah commands us to live, find your Evil Inclination in your article and your responses. That is what reveals Light in the world and nourishes all the other nations. We are commanded to be a Light unto all the Nations. We do it, according to all Kabbalists and the Zohar, by changing, transforming and finding the Evil Inclination in our deeds. There is ZERO Light and transformation when we prove our point in an intellectual argument, even if you are right. The purpose of the back and forth, according to Chaim Vital as it applies to debate in Talmud, is to break Klippot, not to become smarter. The Torah becomes the drug of death when we use the path to become smarter and right. The Torah becomes the Tree of Life when we use its Light to illuminate our Evil Inclination, our jealousy, ego, anger, envy, evil eye, conceit, arrogance and other negative traits. So you received responses from myself and Berry Helfand. Instead of proving yourself right, try to find where your ego, your dark side came into the debate. This is where the Israelites have failed and why the Messiah has not yet arrived.

    Chaim Vital explains the teachings of the Ari concerning the gentile world: The exile is not a punishment for the sin of the Golden Calf and the destruction of the Temples. The exile was for the Israelite nation to bring the Light of Torah, the soul of Torah to the gentile world because they are immersed in the Klippa and they cannot extricate themselves. Only the Israelites by living Torah, bringing those nations Light, can elevate the Holiness out of the darkness. This is why we share Kabbalah with all nations, all races of people. Only the Israelites among us are asked to keep Shabbat and perform all the mitzvot. Only the Israelites are asked to look within and find that inner Evil Inclination that must be uprooted. If you want to find bad in another, you will find bad. Its a reflection of what is inside of you, says the Baal Shem Tov. If you want to find good, you will find the good. You will create your reality with your consciousness. Find the bad in your comments and find the good in others if you want to truly embody the teachings of the Torah.

    Do speak negative of a Kabbalist is a sin worse than murder, according to Kabbalah. And now you speak negative of a tzaddik who left this world. My article that i posted earlier says it all. There is no need to further dignify your responses because if that article didn’t open up something with in you, if it did not puncture a tiny hole in that shell that covers your soul, and if this response of mine also fails to, then we agree to disagree.

    Find your ego in your responses. Find it. Apologize. Humble yourself. Not for us. Not for Rav Berg. As Rav Brandwein taught the Rav, if you go upstairs and you tell the heavenly court that everyone loved you, it will get you the first ticket to hell. Those who change the world must awaken enemies and hatred. So humble yourself, don’t defend yourself and apologize and that action will ignite a tremendous blaze of Light in the world, beyond what you might dare to imagine.

    Come visit the Centre, meet with a teacher, see what we do, let go of your opinions and ego and viewpoints and ask Hashem to guide you and open your heart.

    Do not blame the messenger. Take the message.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      QUOTE FROM BILLY PHILLIPS IN THE LA TIMES OCT. 16, 2011:
      (in response to the point that there are other kabbalist in the world outside of the Kabbalah Centre & who disagree with the Centre’s path)

      BillyPhillips at 3:58 PM October 16, 2011
      “I respectfully disagree. There is only one lineage of Kabbalists and one line of teaching. The same way a single seed can evolve to form a root, then a trunk, then branches, leaves and a final fruit, all of the entire tree is still contained within the seed, though each part may look different and serve a different function. Kabbalah has one lineage from the renowned Kabbalist Rav Berg, his teacher Rav Brandwein, his teacher Rav Ashlag all the way back to Rav Isaac Luria, back to Rav Shimon bar Yochai. These are the key Kabbalists, nothwistanding the Baal Shem Tov, Ramchal and others. One lineage. If someone sees anything different its because they are lacking in the knowledge of Kabbalah and thus are not privy to the true teachings. The other schools outside this lineage was merely an attempt by disgruntled students to start their own chain of teaching. This has happened throughout history, dating back to the Second Temple Era. the truth of Kabbalah’s history and teaching are revealed to the student in direct measure to the diminishing of ego, selfishness and transformation. The Kabbalists of history were all defamed by the religious establshiment as Kabbalah is anti religion and recognizes the corruption. Kabbalah empowers the student to establish a direct relationship with the Divine. Therein lies the reason why the establishment slandered the Kabbalists.”

      AND THIS IS WHAT BILLY WROTE ON OCT. 18, 2011:

      “The Jews called Moses an adulter and a murderer. They called Mary Magdalene a whore. They called the great Kabbalists of history charlatons, heretics and every other name in the book. Why? Because Kabbalah says religion is corrupt and that the ego of man must go. Kabbalah teaches each indivudal how to establish their own relationship with the Divine. We are taught “believe nothing. Test everything.” Organized religion and those in power hate that idea. In the middle ages, one of the great Kabbalists of the 13th centur wrote a profound truth that says it all His name was Abraham Abulafia. He wrote: “If God brought the Kabbalist to the point where rabbis and the whole community make up lies about him and call him crazy, and even children in the street scream and call him evil, he should make himself strong as a lion and not seek revenge. He should do this for the sake of God and not for the sake of honor. Because God does this with all the true Kabbalistic sages of truth.” Therefore, those with ego despire Kabbalah. The real problem with the Kabbalah Centre is this: The same way the human ego incites wars between brothers, friends, businesses, religions and nations, it wages its greatest war against the very wisdom that targets the ego in all of its crafty and clever disguises. It wars against Kabbalah! Such has been the case throughout history.”

      But Billy doesn’t act strong like a lion. Instead, he does seek revenge.

      • NOTARABBI says:

        And I think it’s worth pointing out that while Billy clearly speaks lashon hara against Jews, he goes even futher & blames Jews for the sins of the Catholic Church, like slandering Mary Magdalen as a “whore”, even though it was the Church leaders in Rome who did that in order to diminish the role of women in Christianity’s leadership. Yet, Billy seems to endorse Christianity & obviously, according to his own words, not Judaism or “religion”. He uses the accusations that some of the Israelites made against Moses to deflect criticism of Berg’s own alleged adultery, as if Berg is equal to Moses, because Billy believes he is/was.

  4. Berry Helfand says:

    Dear Rabbi Kotkin:

    Thank you for your response and your candor.

    If you are truly sincere about being fair and meeting with one of the Kabbalah Centre’s teachers… then this is something I can look into and perhaps set up.

    The purpose of my comments were not to get into an argument with you… and I don’t want to further an ignoble conversation about someone who has recently passed, specially out of respect for family and devoted students who are still grieving over their loss.

    Please let me know how you would like to proceed.

    The ball is in your court.

    • Sorry. Didn’t realize the comments were posting without my approval. Yeah, I’d meet with one of them no problem. I’ll be honest though. I don’t want to pay for the privilege. I would do it only to give a fair representation.

  5. Berry Helfand says:

    btw…

    here are links to photos and a video of Rabbi Eram Brandwein, a scholar in residence at Rachel’s Tomb, wrapping red string around tomb and reciting the root and basis of this practice.

  6. Rabbi,

    To ignore the profound and historic publication of the Kabbalah Centre’s siddurs filled with the ancient meditations and prayers of Kabbalist Rav Isaac Luria, for the first time in history and the Center’s Shabbat, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Passover services and every other Torah connection reveals a troubling and tragic ignorance. To slander and trivialize this once-in-a-generation Kabbalist by talking about red strings and students who have been touched by Rav Berg is merely parroting the shallow, inept and morally bankrupt media from where most of your accusations are based. And your lack of knowledge about the red string, though it is but a tiny aspect of the full breadth of Kabbalistic Torah learning, practice and study the Centre offers, is proof of your own ignorance and the ignorance of others not privy to the kabbalistic wisdom known to the true lineage of Kabbalists. Students from around the world were brought back to Torah and observance the correct way by Rav Berg, not the self-aggrandizing and “traditional” ways of mainstream Judaism, which has pushed 90% of Jews away from Torah.

    Our lives were not touched by Rav Berg. Our lives were transformed by Rav Berg, our lives were given Light and Life by Rav Berg because he taught us how to repent, change, walk the walk and talk the talk and embrace the difficult challenges that a life of Torah requires in order to become a human being.

    Spiteful, jealous comments and shallow insights that you offer only spread darkness to others who might be searching for a way back to Torah.

    This is why the Holy Zohar and 2nd century Kabbalist Rabbi,Shimon Bar Yohai says the religious authority, courts and rabbis desecrate the true Torah through their ignorance of the Torah’s underlying Kabbalisitc wisdom and by virtue of their envy, jealousy, selfishness and slander of the great Kabbalists. The Zohar says they use Yeshivas and Synagogues to make a proud name for themselves among their colleagues and the community instead of finding their own Evil Inclination and living a life of true, painful humility (painful on the ego, not the soul).

    Do you have a love of Torah enough to humble yourself publicly and apologize? Or would you rather make a proud name for yourself and defend your opinion with intellectual arguments that only make you more vain as opposed to showing remorse, contriteness and repentance for your actions?

    All Kabbalists of history will tell you ONLY through Kabbalah will the Torah become the Tree of Life bringing peace to all mankind. Without this wisdom and technology of Kabbalah, the Torah becomes “the drug of death”.

    Look around. Death and persecution has been the trademark of Judaism for 2000 years. You cannot deny it. You cannot hide from it. Its been a tragic and utter failure in terms of bringing global peace and the Messiah.

    All because of the jealous eyes and slandeous words like yours and a small handful of Rabbis who speak like you do.

    Do you have the courage to accept that this is not my view but the view of the Zohar, Ramak, Ramchal and other greats?

    Ironic that Rav Berg is beloved by Muslim and Christian leaders and students from all over the world from all religious faiths and only the Rabbis and mainstream media find fault and overlook the historic influence Rav Berg has had upon the world.

    The Ari, in the writings of Chaim Vital says, we suffer in the exile not for punishment but rather because we have failed to bring Kabbalah to the Gentile nations; because we have failed to repent and change and bring the soul of Torah to all those imprisoned in the Klippa. They wait for us to redeem them. The Ari says, if we don’t THEN they will persecute and slaughter us and THIS is why we suffer in the exile. Instead of redeeming the world with our repentance and inner change by eradicating our ugly ego, we feed our pride, we nourish our ego and this is what brings darkness and pain to us.

    For the first time in human history, the world has become aware of the greatest secret and solution to our pain– the Holy Zohar. Only because Rav Berg had the guts, courage and will to endure the slander and pain and as Rabbi Abulafia says:

    “”If God brought the Kabbalist to the point where rabbis and the whole community make up lies about him and call him crazy, and even children in the street scream out and call him evil, he should make himself strong as a lion and not seek revenge. He should do this for the sake of God and not for the sake of honor. Because God does this with all the true Kabbalistic sages of truth.”

    The last Kabbalists to have the effect upon the world that Rav Berg had was Moses, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and Jesus.

    Not surprising, in the Torah, the Jews accuse Moses of murder and adultery with their own wives and all other kinds of slanderous, outrageous claims.

    But at least, after Moses left this world, he attained a high status in the world.

    The only Kabbalist who continues to be reviled by the Jewish religious establishment is Jesus.

    But that’s a whole other article.

    Billy Phillips
    Los Angeles, CA

    • Jesus wasn’t a kabbalist. It’s highly Jesus was anything particularly special. The fact the Kabbalah Centre is teaching you there’s a shred of historical truth to the NT is very telling indeed. I also see a massive issue with the fact you have no problem saying this and that about the Jews when ALL kabbalists are rabbis, universally. Berg didn’t change that.

      • It is the Kabbalists such as Abraham Abulafia and the Ramchal’s teacher and then colleague, Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe David Valle, the great scholar and Kabbalist, Rabbi Eli Benamozeg, and other’s who say Jesus was the Messiah and a Kabbalist and it was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who gave Christianity all of its teachings. Take up your argument with these great Kabbalists. Not me. I just share what is written in their manuscripts. See my lecture on Kabbalah and Christianity to find out the truth. Find me on youtube. or my blog http://www.kabbalahstudent.com

        • NotARabbi says:

          Billy, kabbalah is not self-help, correct, even though that’s really all most people get from it, year after year, dollar after dollar?

          Kabbalah is the wisdom of the universe and a kabbalist is one who masters it & is able to perform miracles.

          I was eventually told by my teacher that if I was not manifesting miracles that I was not a sharing & open enough person to receive the wisdom & should give up learning there. But that was his way of silencing my doubt about the Centre. Since I had questions, he turned into, “well, if you can’t demonstrate a miracle like all the other happy students, then maybe you aren’t meant for kabbalah.” I asked him for an example & he used that against me to by saying that if I needed to ask then it was proof I wasn’t able to perform miracles. He was saying that everyone else there apparently performs miracles and I was just too blinded by my ego to witness any of it. My friends were plentiful but none of them were performing miracles. Everyone I knew there was struggling with understanding, had questions & were not performing miracles but were regular people interested in the interpretations of the weekly portions in the Zohar class.

          The only kabbalist I’ve ever known are not opposed to calling themselves Jews, even if they are opposed to the Kabbalah Centre. But Berg & his crew are not kabbalists. Berg, no matter where he received his early Orthodox education was brilliant. But he chose a new path on his own & it got lost going in Hollywood circles. That’s why your leader Karen laments opening the Centre up. The students can’t commit because that’s too judgmental. The cult might not lose it’s real purpose of making money, just authenticity & credibility. And it tarnished & diluted the word “kabbalah” so that, at best, it’s mostly associated expensive with self-help for celebrities & at worst associate with the true corruption that occurs there, including alleged immigration & welfare fraud, as well as general fraud, anti-Semitism & now alleged sexual assault & death threats from the co-director & rabbi to the stars. Berg didn’t perform miracles and neither do his students. But I’m sure you will claim otherwise.

      • Here are some quotes from Kabbalists and great scholars such as Rabbi Eli Benamozegh and Rabbi Moses David Valle who were privy to the teachings of Ramchal:

        “RABBI SHIMON IS THE AUTHOR OF KABBALAH, AND KABBALAH HAS GIVEN CHRISTIANITY EVERYTHING!”

        – KABBALIST RABBI ELI BENAMOZEGH

        “Kabbalah gave these ideas to Christianity: The doctrine of the Word, and the Son of God and the Trinity.”

        – KABBALIST RABBI ELI BENAMOZEGH

        “Ultimately, Kabbalah alone is capable of restoring harmony betwee the Children of Israel and the Christian world.”

        —KABBALIST, RABBI ELI BENAMOZEGH
        “It’s repugnant to see how the falsification of Jesus’
        teaching was done, to prevent what was going to be
        the redemption of the gentile nations. He was sent
        to save them from their miseries.”

        —KABBALIST RABBI MOSES DAVID VALLE
        (Ramchal said Valle was Mashiach Ben David of their generation, so here we have the Messiah himself telling us the truth about Jesus and his teachings. This is NOT an endorsement of the NT but rather proving that the true teachings of Jesus, not the pagan elements in the NT, but the true teachings are from Torah/Zohar.)

        • NotARabbi says:

          Billy, none of these quotes endorses Jesus as the messiah. At best, they only suggest that the good values of Christianity were naturally influenced by Jesus’ own background. Jesus, in the gospels, tells the Temple rabbis that he does not mean to change the laws of observance. He says “Shema”. Jesus endorses Jewish tradition & Jewish tradition influenced Christianity. However, you do say Jesus was the messiah & that he was Rabbi Shimon. You are misrepresenting the words of Jewish rabbis to endorse Christianity’s claims about Jesus being the messiah, when those quotes do not say that. If Jesus was sent to save Gentiles & his message was distorted, then blame those who distort it, not Judaism for continuing to exist after Jesus failed to save the Jews. The rabbi you quoted as saying Jesus was sent to save the Gentiles, obviously didn’t think he was the messiah because then he would have said he had been sent to save the Jews. But it’s good to hear you are officially endorsing Jesus, because it shows both that you want to be separate from Jews & that you will change kabbalah to do it.

          You call all of the Jewish rabbis “kabbalists” as if you wish to ignore or minimize their Jewishness as incidental. Do you think Rabbi Shimon, or any of the sages would deny they were Jews or endorse Jesus the way you do? Those quotes don’t do it. And I asked that question clearly several times. I was told in no uncertain terms that there would never come a time at the Kabbalah Centre when I would be taught that Jesus was the messiah.

          Your pop queen also compared the president to the messiah, “the stone that the builder refused”, but my own teachers were saying that he was “pulling the wool over American eyes”. And I know you only zero in on easy marks, so just to clarify, no, I’m not agist or sexist, even though I called the pop queen an old lady that likes to strip in public for her kabbalah centre teacher. We’re all adults, except the kids in the audience. And I never cared about modesty, outside of religious events & children’s venues. So, I don’t think being immodest or gentile or female bars anyone from wisdom or equality etc. I just know that even my hair cut & choice of kippot was criticized, harshly. But celebrities flaunt their cheekiness to their teachers. I was really emotionally abused there & even manipulated into things I really didn’t want & should never have been asked to do that hurt me & those around me. I was once told that I was the worst person who ever entered the Kabbalah Centre, by my teacher who serves the pop queen her dinner on Shabbat.

          I also noticed that you wrote a story about a rabbi who criticized your cult. You pointed out that he choked on food & died in an airport years after warning people against Berg. What caused the Rav’s strokes & deterioration? The same thing that killed the other rabbi? No? I know you believe the Rav told you he had to die to help bring salvation, perhaps like Rabbi Shimon. But that’s convenient for you to remember that only after he died. You know he promised not to die. Kabbalah water didn’t heal him or nuclear fall out. You just keep changing the script to create a mythology for the RAv to match other recognized Jewish kabbalists. You’ve made a new Jesus & a new idol to rally around in Tzfat, like you’ve invented a new religion.

          Your organization focuses on immortality, especially through nano-technology, as if to avoid death at all. You suggest things to attract people with hope & string them along with tantalizing signs of the coming of the messiah, who you say isn’t a person, not literally “son of David ben Jesse ben Peretz” but a metaphor. But then in your endorsement of Jesus as messiah, you do identify both Jesus & that rabbi as messiah. But they were men, not metaphor, not seals after we’ve done our tikkun. You also suggest that Berg was the messiah. You seemed very confused.

          The teachers at the Centre are messing with peoples lives & making their students so dependent on them that if they truly listened to the teachers, they would become complete cult zombies to their own detriment. There are those who take from the Centre what they want. My teachers criticized them as takers. But those are the ones who use is as self-help & or a placebo to give credit to for changing their lives, even though theu changed because they wanted to. These tools the Centre sells are free & not new. It doesn’t require what the Centre does. To truly give to the Centre, you need to trust the teachers & not fear losing anything but you “connection”, meaning to them really, not the “light”. The Centre truly wants to turns students into chèvre, full time volunteers, free labor, modern slaves by their own “choice”, even though they are in a cult that’s taking advantage of them. I was told that it reveals selfishness to believe it’s even possible to be taken advantage of. I was told that it was not possible to give back enough to the Centre for the connection to the light they facilitated for me. It is a cult of personality, revolving around the Bergs who revolve around the stars.

          • Funny, the Arizal said that Jesus was a reincarnation of the man who cursed G-d in Leviticus 24:10-12. I don’t supposed that piece of Kabbalah is ever quoted at the Kabbalah Centre.
            If you really accept Kabbalah you have to accept the whole package.

        • Yeah so I don’t know where you got any of these ideas about Jesus, but the trinity can’t be found in the Zohar. It actually can’t really be found in the NT either. There’s no foundation for Christianity in Kabbalah, not in the Zohar, not anywhere in Jewish tradition. These rabbis quoted clearly understood neither Kabbalah nor Christianity.

          • The Zohar has many profound passages about how 3 are 1 and the structure of the three column system in the Tree of Life (Ten Sephirot) and Kabbalists and Kabbalistic scholars and Rabbis like Abraham Abulafia, Rabbi Eli Benamozegh, Rabbi Moshe David Valle, teacher and then colleague of the Ramchal, and the actual Mashiach ben David of his generation according to the Ramchal, all point out how the trinity and other christological elements are rooted in the Zohar. See my lecture on youtube on Kabbalah and Christianity where i quote the Zohar on many of these elements that are undisputed and irrefutable. Your comment merely demonstrates your lack of knowledge in the Zohar and your lack of study of the rabbinical Kabbalistic authorities of history as it relates to this subject matter. Even modern scholars such as Yehuda Liebes have published scholarly papers and written books on this subject matter. There’s nothing to question here. At all.

            Here is a link to the Kabbalah – Christianity lecture

            http://kabbalahstudent.com/jesus-and-kabbalah-euro-lecture/

          • Stop plugging your blog on mine. I knew there was a reason I stopped responding to you.

          • In case you did not understand, the Zohar in no way, whatsoever, validates Christianity. On the contrary, the teachings of Jesus (not the pagan elements in the New Testament, but the true teachings of Jesus) validate the Torah and Zohar. The Christian Kabbalists got it all wrong as well during the renaissance. They tried to use kabbalah to validate Christianity. As the Messiah son of David, Rabbi Moses David Valle said in the 18th century said, both Jews and Christians have it all wrong. The ultimate truth underlying Torah, the Koran and Islam is only to be found in Zohar. Christianity merely took the literal meaning of the Kabbalah into Christianity and thus, from the literal perspective, its idol worshipping. Through the lens of Kabbalah, it is pure Torah. See my lecture for details.

          • For you to say the Rabbis/Kabbalists got it wrong about Christianity is the ultimate of arrogance and chutzpah. Are you suggesting that i should listen to the college rabbi and ignore the words of Kabbalists like the Ramchal, R. Moses David Valle, Abraham Abulafia and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who revealed the idea of a trinity, of Three Being One to convey the profound unity of the Creator?

            I choose to ignore your words and follow what is written in the Zohar and the writings of the esteemed sages of Torah.

          • R’ Moses David Valle’s name doesn’t come up that often in rabbinic circles. Actually the first time I heard of him was these posts. While I have to defend the opinions of the Ramhal, Rav Abulafia, the Bar Yohai, each to certain extents, I don’t have to explain away someone who hasn’t been accepted as one of the bearers of the tradition. The fact he thought he was the Messiah himself, if what I read is true, is usually a good way to get yourself disregarded and marginalized in the Jewish world.

          • Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai also writes in the Zohar that Keter, Chochmah, Binah, collectively are called the Father (Abba) and Zeir Anpin (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod) are called The Son, and Malchut is the Holy Spirit.

            Words of Zohar.

          • The Zohar says in the beginning of the Idrah Rabbah that anyone who personifies the Sephirot, even in their mind, is guilty of idolatry.

          • In light of that Idrah Rabbah I can safely say what I already have, and that you simply don’t understand what’s going on in the Zohar. Not my mistake or my questioning of authoritative sources.

          • NOTARABBI says:

            Billy’s view of Christianity is that it’s an ark to preserve the Torah, inside of a pagan idol, to safeguard it from the Jews who only use it for spreading destruction through their selfishness. He says that Christianity only looks idolatrous, but that through the prism of kabbalah, it’s “pure Torah”. It’s concealing Torah, as a lifeline for the world, so that while the Jews are in exile to keep them from using the Torah for evil, the Gentiles won’t be anti-Jewish. He says that Christianity was “set up” so that Jews in exile would be in a familiar, friendly world based on Torah values, so that the Jews will be safe.

            Not only does that justify idolatry, so long as it conceals Torah concepts, it simply ignores history. The Jews were not safe & in a friendly, familiar world. And Christianity is not so similar to Judaism that Christians protected Jews. Quite the opposite is true. The Christian students at Billy’s Centres do literally worship Jesus, the man, as a divinity, a demigod, a god, an idol, and his mother, too. Isn’t that idolatrous? Billy is actually feeding into that. He is elevating & justifying Christianity as a legitimate practice not just for Gentiles, but for Jews, since it’s “pure Torah”.

            It’s a fascinating theory that Rabbi Valle wrote in those page about the parallels he draws between Tablets/Temples, the dove & the raven. Is the messiah a dark, scary bird & not a light, peaceful one? But first he says the dove was Jesus & then he says it was Moses. But the Noah story has two birds, not three, not two doves who failed & one successful raven. Why not, if the dove represents the failed messiah. Oh, maybe because the dove is one soul, but two individuals. Okay.

            And the best part, is when he says that there’s no negativity in Gentiles, only in Jews. So, Christianity, cannot be used to do harm, only Torah can, only Jews do evil. But the world is safe from the Jews, so long as the Jews are in exile, where the Christians protect them. Apparently, everyone alive & all humans are actually Israelites, since we know not only Jews are capable of negativity. So, why do they bother to differentiate at all?

            Rabbi Valle apparently believes that Jesus was sent to save the Gentiles & that the Jews conspired to prevent that & so Christians forgot to understand the deeper meaning of the Torah that was hidden beneath idolatry that comes from the names of the levels of the Tree of Life in the Zohar. Billy claims, in Valle’s name, that the world has been kept, by Jews, from understanding that they are practicing Torah, concealed, by Jews, in idolatrous concepts that are metaphors for kabbalah ideas.

            The main point is that Jesus, being Rabbi Shimon, is the legitimate messiah, and that secret was kept from Christianity, by Jews, to keep us all apart & suffering endlessly, to place Jews in an exile & to keep Gentiles mired in idolatry instead of being unified with Jews.

            And finally, Billy reveals the great “secret” that I.N.R.I. (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews) matches rabbI.shimoN.baR.yochaI. Is that enough evidence to link the two? Why would the Churches all keep this secret for the Jews to oppress the world with, when the Jews were under the thumb of the Christian world & not the other way around? Billy says the Zohar was placed in the Ark of the Covenant until the 13th Century. Who had the Ark in that era? It was last written about seven years before the Babylonians came to Jerusalem some 2,500 years ago.

            Billy sounds & acts, even looks like an older incarnation of the Wolf of Wall Street, in that rather bizarre video.

            Here’s one comment he made on his own video, in response to a question about who bares responsibility:

            “Paul said the Law and Torah was no longer required because Jesus did all the work for us and now there is no more work to do. Not true. Jesus said he did not come to negate the Torah but rather to fulfill it in its entirety. However, the spiritual, Kabbalistic reason why Christianity negated the Torah is because the Israelites who were exiled into Christianity and assimilated, they lost the merit to have the Torah and their negativity would have destroyed the world if they kept using the Torah, so they were forced to live among the gentiles who do not need the Torah anyway because they are not negative like the Israelites. But again, Paul is wrong about Jesus and the end of Torah for the Israelites. Get it? It’s both.”

            So, he says both that the Christianity was set up/ Jesus sent to save the Gentiles, but also that they don’t need saving, because they aren’t negative. It sounds like what he means is that since the Jews were too dangerous with Torah, that Christianity was created to give Jews a way to assimilate away from Torah, while still secretly being tethered to it, under the guise of idolatry. I guess that means that most Christians, especially ones drawn to kabbalah, are actually hidden, assimilated Israelites who might just finally be diluted & shallow enough to finally transform.

            Even if it is all true, that Rabbi Shimon was Jesus & that Christianity is really an ark to preserve Torah & protect it from Jews, those rabbis Billy quoted aren’t here to endorse or oppose Billy’s use or misuse of their intentions. And it also doesn’t justify the tactics & practices of the Centre. They just use everything as a shield to deflect criticism of their business & cult agenda. Besides, the students there won’t give up Jesus, either literally or as a code. They will continue to worship him literally. Does Billy want them to transfer their worship of Jesus to devotion to his cult, as the true representative of Jesus’ message? They want to co-opt everything under their umbrella, just like the Church founders. They claim to be universal & non-profit. We’ve heard it all before. Billy isn’t going to revamp Christianity, after 2,000 years.

          • I don’t think he made this stuff up himself. Valle is not a recognized authority in the Jewish world. I’ve never heard the name before this conversation. It filters into another argument I’ve been having with another group of people over a similar idea that once you’re a rabbi you’re opinion is equally valid to those we consider the greats. You will always be able to dig someone or something up that will support your opinion if you try hard enough. I’m going to try and discuss the issue with a higher up, when I get the opportunity to really put something together.

          • NOTARABBI says:

            And wasn’t it the raven Noah sent out first that did not return & the dove he sent second that did? So, then how is Jesus the dove?

            He both endorses Jesus as messiah and says Christianity & its founders were illegitimate. He says Paul was wrong. But Paul represented the anti-Jewish elements that built a non-Jewish religion that didn’t protect Jews in exile.

            And he blames everything on the failure of Israelites to transform. The religious Jews I’ve known are the most transformed, liberal, progressive, compassionate, sharing, generous, peaceful, loving & wise people I know. The world is filled with Gentiles that kill each other, even within the same culture, over minor issues. Jews are not prone to civil strife or antagonists against others. They’ve been targeted for being different, just like the Centre claims is the source of its troubles, along with a religious Jewish conspiracy against the cult.

            I do understand that we Jews lost our Temple & went into exile because of the sin of “sin at chinos”, hatred for no reason, free hate. And I agree with the simple idea of “ahavat chinom”, “Love without condition”. But that is not what the cult really practices, even if we Jews always need to remember the teaching of Hillel who said, “That which is hateful to you, do not unto others, all the rest is commentary & now go, learn!”. The cult teaches that Jews never learned this lesson & that all their troubles & all the world’s problems are rooted in our lack of transformation. They point to massive Jewish secularism & assimilation & anti-Semitism all as proof that religious Jews have failed & that the Torah was taken away from them & that Torah authority rests with the Bergs who will reveal to the world the secret truth that Christianity & Jesus are an ark of true Torah & the real messiah that Jews have concealed so everyone can suffer.

          • I really don’t think Billy invented this. This needs to be addressed at the top, because praising Jesus is implicitly praising the fact that he, or his followers, overturned the law. This is something I’ve observed from Kabbalah Centre followers. I plan to address the issue.

          • NOTARABBI says:

            From : The Real Messiah, By Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan:

            “Among Paul’s major teachings, we find the following:
            1) Jesus was the Messiah or Christ predicted by the Prophets of the Bible and awaited by the Jews. He is also the Son of G-d, and like any son, is essentially the same as his Father.
            2) Man is evil and sinful. All mankind is damned because of Adam’s sin. The Torah cannot save man, since its many commandments make it too difficult to keep. The only thing that can prevent man’s utter damnation in hell is the belief in Christ.
            3) The Jews were originally G-d’s chosen people, but they were rejected when they refused to accept His son, Jesus. The name “Israel,” G-d’s chosen people, is no longer carried by the Jew, but by those who accept Jesus as the Messiah. Only these share G-d’s love. Everyone else is damned in hell.
            4) There is only one law now that Christ has come, and that is love. One must follow the example of Christ’s sacrifice, and patiently hope that G-d will be gracious in return.

            It is enough to state these articles of Christian faith to see why the Jews
            could not accept them. Taking them one by one, the Jewish viewpoint would be:
            1) Jesus could not have been the Messiah. The Prophets predicted a world of peace and love after the Messiah’s coming, and this certainly does not exist today. Furthermore, any talk of the Messiah as being the “son of G-d” is totally unacceptable. In no place do the Prophets say that he will be anything more than a remarkable leader and teacher.
            2) Although the Torah does speak of Adam’s sin, it teaches that man can rise above it. Man might not be able to perfect himself, but it was for this reason that G-d gave us the Torah. It is absurd to think that G-d would give a Torah that was impossible or too difficult to follow. In no place does Judaism teach that one can be saved from damnation by mere belief. Any true belief in G-d must lead a person to also follow His commandments.
            3) It is impossible to imagine that G-d would ever reject the Jewish people. In many places, the Bible clearly states that His covenant with them will be forever.
            4) In many places, the Bible says that the Torah was given forever. It is therefore impossible to say that it has been replaced by a new law or testament. Love alone is not enough, for one must know how to express it, and for this, we need the Torah as a guide. Love is only one of the Torah’s commandments, and good deeds are its necessary expression.”

    • NotARabbi says:

      Billy, I was taught in Zohar class that “kabbalah is not self-help” & that if we are there for that then we can go somewhere else. Helping yourself is not the purpose of kabbalah. The lesson was about how a priest with a physical defect cannot serve in the Temple & how that means anyone who is less than perfect cannot truly grasp kabbalah, which is not self-help. Self-help is basically selfish, too, because it’s all about helping yourself, not others. So, that Zohar lesson taught that nobody in the room was going to be able to justify continuing studying there. It meant none of us should have been there at all. Since we weren’t perfect enough to receive or channel this energy & it wasn’t self-help, then what was it? A religion a cult? Why waste our time, since according to the Zohar only perfect vessels can receive the wisdom? Yet, you trucks have the logo “IMPROVING PEOPLES LIVES” & “LOVE, LIFE KABBALAH”, as if that doesn’t only imply self-help.

      The students who join you in these comment sections to defend the Centre often claim that kabbalah, meaning the Centre, saved their lives. Is that the purpose of kabbalah, to rescue drug addicts from their addictions by replacing it with 72 Names & trickets or with the Jewish rituals you claim are unique technology to the Centre & kabbalah but that they can find in any community?

      Many rabbis try to learn about psychology & are also counselors or therapists, even psychiatrists, like the rabbi I’ve known for years & who warned me against your cult. What qualifies your staff to call themselves “kabbalah teachers”? Are they kabbalists? No. But you can teach kabbalah without being an expert in it or a kabbalist. We were actually taught in class that anyone can teach kabbalah. We weren’t being taught that anyone could become a kabbalist, just that even without being a kabbalist, a person can teach kabbalah. Ok, maybe, if you mean doing what at least one of my teachers did, which was to repeat practically verbatim classes the Rav gave. It was interesting. But when I asked him questions, he response was, “I have no idea what you are talking about”, even though it wasn’t a difficult question. It was a class on the “Shema” prayer. He claimed it had 248 words, like the columns in the Torah & parts of the body. But I asked how he arrived at that number, since there’s less than 248 words in the “Shema”. I asked about the “-l Melech N’eman” or whatevef else was included to arrive at 248 words. But it was like I was causing some great offense to him.

      We were taught that only 1 in a thousand of the students at the Centre would ever achieve this wisdom, if that. So, why not try to identify those students & foster them, rather than allow them to drown in a sea of sycophants that would just as easily follow celebrities elsewhere? It couldn’t be the perks, the agenda, or just the brainwashing taking it’s effect, could it? You only act as if you want to get along with these rabbis. You already have your mind made up and are always ready to make your mind up, again, and again. But it will only ever be to suit your delusional agenda. You argue that these rabbis just have intellectual ego & aren’t trying to help or clarify. You sow more confusion & deception than anyone I’ve ever encountered & you do it with righteous certainty, with pure obsession. This College Rabbi gives you far too much credit & platform. But he also untimely allows you to reveal yourself & for us to help you do it.

      • It’s not possible for anyone in the Kabbalah Centre to get where Kabbalah is supposed to take you. Kabbalah is a deeper level of understanding of the standard Jewish texts, including the Bible. If you have no familiarity with these then the Kabbalistic language is meaningless, much like String Theory is meaningless to someone who doesn’t even know Newtonian physics. Still, the Kabbalah Centre is very appealing to a lot of people and I think it’s important for people to see what it is and get the other side before they decide to commit (and IMHO waste) large amounts of time and money to it. I want to hear what he has to say, and I’m open to having my mind changed. I just have a few conditions before I agree to meet with a Kabbalah Centre official.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      The Real Messiah, By Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (whose books the Centre sells):

      http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/the_real_messiah.pdf

  7. The purpose of Torah is not the observances, the keeping of Shabbat, the study of Talmud, the The Mehitza or any other precept. It’s Love Thy Neighbor. Nothing else. All the other Torah observances are only there to bring us to that level and state of consciousness. Your slanderous, unconscionable, disrespectful article was the antithesis of Love Thy Neighbor. Period.

    Apologize and plead for forgiveness on the memory of Kabbalist Rav Berg and from his family, publicly. Take darkness and turn it into Light. And watch the miracles unfold.

    • NotARabbi says:

      Billy, you should apologize for your slander & lashon hara against the Jewish people. I understand that there are rabbis that say things you don’t like. I understand that Karen always despised religious people & authority. I agree with women’s rights & equality for all. I was happy to make friends, Jewish & not, among Kabbalah Centre students. If I was a Jewish supremacist or coming from a religious point of view, I would never have been open to going there. I practically allowed myself to be turned anti-Semitic just to prove to my teachers that I was only loyal to them. However, there’s at least two Kabbalah Centres. One where anyone from anywhere can come & go as they please with no strings attached, red or otherwise. Then there’s the Centre for those who are told that a person cannot truly be loyal to two masters & that kabbalah is not just a companion to enhance your outside religious experience but a way of life that requires commitment. So, there’s the track for those who don’t like religion & want the freedom to meander endlessly while calling it “label-free transcendence”. And then theres the other track that resembles Orthodox Judaism in every way, except you are eventually groomed to teach & recruit this to the other group who never truly commits.

      The second group of committed Kabbalah Centre members, we’ll call them the religious ones, live like religious Jews. And they depend on religious communities for the infrastructure it provides, such as producing kosher food, ritual items & sages who write scrolls for “connections”. So, even though the head teacher of the LA Centre says religious Jews lack consciousness & their scrolls aren’t kosher, his staff & fellow members all rely upon the Orthodox community’s networks & standards.

      The non-Jewish students, like the minor celebrity who was attacking me & Jews according to your script yesterday, don’t seem to grasp that they were once not welcome at Shabbat in your organization & before that were not even thought of by Rav Berg as potential students. It was Karen who changed the Rav, not his teachers who advised going to Hollywood. Rav Bradwein didn’t teach anyone. The Rav left his kabbalah community. No matter if you support his vision or not, it is not Rav Brandwein’s path. Berg made his own path with Karen. The students of Rav Brandwein still oppose him, according to the ones I’ve spoken to. But there is one other prominent student of Bradwein who is now doing new things with kabbalah that may be criticized, even he doesn’t seem to approve of Berg’s path. Berg’s first wife’s Rivka’s family also reject his organization, according to a respected rabbi I’ve known for years who is her cousin. I know the Rav’s children spent time with him before he died, as anyone would want to reconcile with a parent, but the community of Rav Brandwein does not endorse your organization.

      I also want to point out that the rabbi in this article claims Rav Berg was educated at Torah V’Daas in Brooklyn, NY & so he has scholarship that is respectable. However, I asked the Rav’s son Yehuda about it and he denied that. Rather, I mentioned that I knew Rav Pam, the founder of Torah V’Daas & was friends with his family for years. The rabbi I mentioned earlier, who is cousins with the Rav’s first wife Rivkah, is also cousins with Rav Pam. Rav Pam inspired the rabbi I learned with to become the outreach rabbi he is with the organization he has which freely shares time to educated Jews in Torah. 58,000 secular Jews are learning Torah with Orthodox volunteers because of this free program. And I was close to one of Rav Pam’s grandsons. They also told me that Berg was educated at Torah V’Daas. But Yehuda seemed to be angry that I mentioned Rav Pam, even though I was only making conversation. He seemed to act as if I was making an accusation, as if he could not admit his father was ever connected to that community. Yehuda claimed that Rav Pam’s community & school only taught Berg his aleph-bet. He said that the Rav received his ordination not from anyone besides Rav Brandwein. Yet, the relatives of the Brandweins & the students, as well as many others, all reject your organization, Mr. Phillips.

      Billy, you know Jenna, the woman suing Yehuda for assault. You know that she’s being attacked as a liar who’s looking for money by suing Yehuda for alleged sexual assault & then threatening to beat her to death. Right now, your fellow students, and I believe teachers, are defending their leader & their organization by destroying this woman all over the internet. She was the most loyal defender of the Centre. Not everyone has access to Yehuda as their teacher or in private for meetings, readings, headings, etc. Jenna was a dedicated student who trusted her teacher. I believe her completely even though I cut contact with her when I left the organization. What are you doing to stop Ingrid & your other devotees who are speaking lashon hara against the woman who is accusing your leader of attacking her & threatening to kill her if she talked? Your entire community defends itself by speaking lashon hara against their former students & employees, as well as religious Jews in general.

      You always try to silence people like me by saying that if we disagree then we should keep it to ourselves. Why don’t you do that? Why don’t you eat your humble pie, instead of waging war on every article about your cult? How do you have time to focus on restricting? You tell us to go away. You go away! You teach that we are not victims. You are not victims! You obviously portray Arabs as victims of Jews & Jews as victims of their our narrow self-interest, even though Jews are tolerant (with partial exception to anti-Semitic cults & such) where as you require Jewish soldiers to protect you from your Arab friends. That’s not to say peace & unity with Arabs is not good & possible. It’s both good & possible. Arabs are not my problem. My problem is that your cult shows solidarity with them for politics & it’s divisive, not unifying. Jews want & are ready for peace.

      I’m from a mixed family of Christians & Jews. That’s why I was open to the Centre. I wanted to be part of bridging the gap between people. I think we can all benefit from learning each other’s cultures & their respective wisdoms. But the Kabbalah Centre failed to achieve this & is a false expression because it harbors hatred & resentment of religious Jews & denies the Jewishness of kabbalah. Of course wisdom is not exclusively Jewish, but the Torah as practice & learning has been the exclusive realm of rabbinic Judaism from the time of Jews like rabbi Shimon who wrote the Zohar. Yet, even though every single kabbalist’s grave that the Centre brings its students to are religious Jewish rabbis buried in Eastern Europe, Northern Africa & the Levant, and even though the entire staff of Kabbalah Centre teacher are basically born-Jewish & living like Orthodox Jews, the non-Jews & secular Jews actually believe that religious Jews outside of their cult are are all not really Israelite or practicing true Torah. These same students don’t seem to notice that they aren’t called upon to do things that Jewish students are allowed to. However, I hear they do allow non-Jews to have a full aliya to the Torah on Shabbat. Why shouldn’t they be allowed, if Israelite doesn’t mean Jewish? Can they become kohanim now, too? Your student told me yesterday that it’s racist to believe anyone can be born a Kohen. I said, “check the phonebook, if you don’t believe the Bible you read in your war room!” How do you explain to these people that the codes are also real & literal, too, & not just metaphors. Your students pay to eat kabbalah-water infused matzah for 72$ a box & then literally go home & eat chametz & terufah after the seder. A student who had been learning for 12 years called the Passover Seder “black magic”. You might expect him to know something after a dozen years a tens of thousands of dollars.

      Many of your students are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because they believe the messiah is coming at any moment & it won’t matter & because their teachers encourage them to give til it hurts & tell them that to question the Centre is ego, that to protect themselves from financial ruin is yetzer hara. Of course, you really do want them to be successful so they can tithe, only to your organization, as I was pressured to do. My teacher wanted to meditate on the money before I tithed it. So, I brought it to him. He meditated on two of the 72 Names & then I said thank you & meant to bring it to a charity I like to give to. But He put it inside his suit. He noticed I looked surprised. So, then he guilted me into letting him by asking a question that itself was meant to shame me. So then I stopped tithing to him & things got ugly. I was tossed to another, bigger, more aggressive & confrontational teacher who told me that he & the other teachers were basically starving & depended on the generosity of students. I had not known that, until then. He also taught me not to question but to emulate, which the Centre likes to say only religious people do as they lack consciousness. He said instead of questioning why the Centre hold one way or another on any issue, just see what the teachers do & imitate. Otherwise, he said, I doubted the Rav & kabbalah. Specifically he said that wearing tzittzit showing attracted klippot. But I liked showing just the strings & so I was offending everyone else, apparently.

      I know Billy will say that this is all about me being bitter & he may pretend there’s still a place for me there even though there isn’t because I don’t want there to be. You actually lose serious students in order to keep the ones who spend kore, which is the new turn over always being recruited.

      Again, I relate to many of your students, because I was one & come from a mixed background that created in me a desire to unify people. I admire your celebrity students for their artistic talents, even though it’s often really only their ego that motivates them to seem to be spiritual & charitable. It helps their brand. And I know you can call that cynical, like I know you will disagree with the reason for my next point. You once wrote that your most famous students & arguably the most famous person alive, the Queen of Pop, keeps kosher & Shabbat, when you must know that is false. You wrote earlier, in this comment section, that Torah is not about mitzvah observance. The pop star agrees. So, why did you claim she observes those mitzvoth? You know that after nearly twenty years in your organization, even your most famous student, the reason you basically still pay your bills, isn’t even remotely close to the lifestyle of her teachers.

      I was once urged to reconsider where I wanted to be, because I asked a chevre about why it wasn’t ok for me to doze off in the Shabbat services but no one told the pop star not to answer her cell phone during the Torah reading. There’s simply a double-standard. Rich & famous people don’t get judged. I got judged & was judged for judging, too. I had to avoid doing anything that you could all judge me for, especially questioning celebrity treatment. I was literally sitting next to the Queen of Pop’s teacher, Eitan, & her two adopted children at her concert when she wore the 72 Name of G*d that you use at Rachel’s tomb & when tying the red string. It was tattooed on her back as she removed her clothes during her striptease of “Like a Virgin”. I don’t think Eitan will ever tie her string without imagining her in lingerie. I know, I’m judging. I really don’t care about her modesty. I’m not religious. I do admire artists but that wasn’t art, so much. I’m just a curious former fan. But that show lost its luster, and like your cult it’s a waste of time & money just to hear, “love thy neighbor”, from you or an old lady who likes to undress in public for her kabbalah teacher. But you don’t see her teachers promoting kabbalah that way. Her teacher all dress modestly, like religious Jews. However Karen likes her short skirts & luxuries, like a celebrity & not like any Orthodox rabbi’s wives or female Jewish leaders.

      The real point is that even your biggest students aren’t restricting from easy things even after decades of learning, and yet you claim Jews lack consciousness & aren’t really practicing. If Jews are treating others as they want to be treated, then their observance is not in the way. But why, if all you need is love, do you even need a Kabbalah Centre? Why do you hold such long connections & seders, like religious Jews, if all you need is love? Why does your love cost so much? And no this is not all about money. I know that’s another thing you project onto detractors. Yes, I wasted tens of thousands of dollars for your love when I could have loved being Jewish & calling it kabbalah for practically nothing.

      Your organization says that Orthodox scrolls are not kosher but buy your tefillin from Orthodox Jews to resell to both Jews & non-Jews for a hiked priced.. Selling tefillin to non-Jews might be a problem, too. But it wasn’t my issue.

      Billy, you once wrote that Rav Berg has the only legitimate lineage of kabbalah from the Ari until now. You wrote that. You dismissed all other streams completely. And just like you wrote that Jews aren’t in the Bible & that Judaism is the source of all chaos, the comment was removed either by you or because it was deemed inappropriate. Now, your organization is trying to be both anti-religion & a companion to it. Maybe you should just drop the kabbalah label. Maybe that’s to specific & too Jewish anyway. Better off just teaching new-agism. Better yet, since you are not a religion, pay taxes & sell your face-reading at the carnival, where it belongs.

      Finally, I heard Karen announce over a microphone to hundreds of us gathered for the Rav’s birthday that she regrets opening the Kabbalah Centre to the general public, that means to uneducated people unready for the wisdom. It has become cheap & you know it. When you google “kabbalah” all you get is celebrities & scandals, but not wiser. We won’t be visiting pop stars graves for connection to “the Light” in the coming centuries. Your organization may limp along forever. But it will never be respected. It’s toxic. Anyone who doesn’t know your cult is dubious at best,is either not even aware or concerned with the subject or they don’t want to know because they want to hang out with you coo kids & your famous friends. I’m happy to be a human who also happens to be a Jew. I’m not living in bitterness. But your teacher, my former leader, allegedly attacked someone you & I both know. And you always blame accusations on Jews. So, I knew you’d be doing what you do. You could have had better allies, if you didn’t want rich, famous friends whose politics & agenda you must reshape kabbalah to suit.

      • I just want to say that my permitting you to comment is not an endorsement. I assume you have a source for these stories that would not make it lashon hara?

        • NOTARABBI says:

          Rabbi, thank you for allowing my comments. They are true & known to more than ten people. And if Billy denies any of it, it’s only because he is a liar. Everything I said he wrote, he did write. He blames religious Jews for his cult’s controversies. I would really advise you not to meet with him or anyone from his organization. I don’t know you, but you should know that leading rabbis have declared the Bergs cut-off from Klal Israel. Meeting with upikorsim is not something a rabbi should do, in my opinion. This cult is so far gone & has no intentions of finding its way back to Judaism. It broke away & sees Judaism as the enemy. I’m surprised you don’t already know that & bother to give them any credit at all. I’m not religious. I just love the Jewish people. The Centre does not.

  8. Jeffrey says:

    The Video is a myth. I knew them both then. Phil (aka now the Rav) was STILL married when Karen started an affair with him. They went to Israel where they married- WHILE HE DID NOT HAVE A DIVORCE FROM HIS WIFE RIFKA BRANDWEIN. They lived there in fear of prosecution for years before returning. Your “RAV” left 7 children (one had died of leukemia) without child support for years. Now their spawn Yehuda is being sued for sex abuse. With a father, a known philanderer and a mother an operator is there any wonder . I may not know as much about spirituality as you, but I sure know morals and understand Torah generally does not countenance people like this. Shame on the whole scam. I once heard the “Rav” say his favorite parsha was parshat pinchus- where Pinchus slaughters the prostitute. Perhaps a shred of guilt? who knows. But that video certainly is a fairytale

    • Do you have any sources backing these accusations up? Pretty hard core.

    • To spread such filth and lies so recklessly is exactly why the Talmud and Zohar say it’s the Jews who caused the destruction of the Second Temple with their Hatred for No Reason, their jealousy, their intolerance and their rare ability to only find the bad in a situation. This is why the Zohar says the Jews are responsible for all the world’s chaos, suffering and pain and why there is so much anti-semitism. These are not my harsh words. Its the words of the Zohar and the Kabbalists. Nothing has changed since Sinai, when the Jews accused Moses of leading them to slaughter and having an affair with all their wives. You should be ashamed for your slanderous words. The time in which you took to write this filth you could have spent reciting a line of Zohar or Torah to bring some Light to your soul and this world. Instead you awakened more darkness. Shame on you.

      • NotARabbi says:

        Billy Phillips & his cult talk a good talk about “lashon hara” (evil speech) & “love thy neighbor”, when it suits his obsession with worshipping his late cult leader’s ever changing & false approach to marketing amulets to celebrities & their misled fans. But Mr. Phillips & his fellow cult leaders are the ones who speak lashon hara & slanderous anti-Semitic lies against religious Jews & Judaism. In particular, Mr. Phillips himself specifically wrote, in the comment section of the LA TIMES articles that started covering his cult’s IRS / FBI investigation scandal in 2011, that “Jews are never even mentioned in the Bible” & that “Judaism is the source of all chaos, including the destruction of the Temple & anti-Semitism”.

        Mr. Phillips, do you also deny that you previously taught that you believe Rav Berg to be the reincarnation of Jesus. Isn’t it true that you also write in your blog that Jesus was in fact Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, as evidenced by gematria according to you? And didn’t your cult teach that the Rav was also the reincarnation of Moses & even that he would not die until the messiah’s coming? Is the messiah here? I know he is only the seal at the very last, after we’ve done our work. But has that occurred? Or did you come up with a new meaning of being alive & a new meaning of messiah, too? I heard the Bergs make those claims in person, even though they deny it.

        Karen, in a video on youtube about separation creates negativity in the world, identifies the negativity as both mechitzot that divide men from women during prayers & the rabbinate of Israel itself as a force of negativity that threatens the world. Karen was responding to a question by a Jewish Israeli student about the threat from Iran. Karen seems annoyed that he even asked a question so self-serving towards Israel & Jewish interests. She responds by saying that the real danger was not Iran but the religious authority in Israel which seeks to keep her from praying with non-Jewish men at sites in Israel. She claimed these fences & restrictions imposed by the rabbis were keeping her from communing with “the Light” & creating order in the world. She then said the solution would be a war to remove the rabbis. It sounded like she called for Iran to attack Israel so that she & others like her could take over after the religious Jews are eliminated.

        In 2010, your cult took several thousand students to Shechem-Nablus to “show solidarity with the native people of the land” by waving Palestinian flags while protected from those Palestinians you went to show solidarity with by 5,000 Israeli soldiers. However, when your 2007 tour visited Masada, the teachers chided the explanation of the place as “Zionist fanaticism” & decided to no longer take students to Masada. It seems confusing to show solidarity with Arabs but not with Jewish Israelis. So, I asked what this was about & was attacked by many of my fellow former students & teachers as a Jewish supremacist for not feeling comfortable waving the Palestinian flag, especially after hearing the teachers call Masada a Zionist lie & call Zionism fanaticism. I was told by a representative who himself later left the cult, after having a public meltdown as a fraud, that he was quoting Karen by referring to the Israeli soldiers protecting the cult’s tour to Shechem as “Nazis, usurpers, European impostors, & not Israelites”. Now that Hugo left your cult & is a known fraud, you can use his bad reputation to deny that he was quoting Karen accurately. But no one denied it at the time I asked. And no one reprimanded or corrected Hugo’s anti-Semitic representation either, as he continued representing the Centre for at least a couple of more years. He was prominently seen representing the Kabbalah Centre to ABC News on the premises of the LA Centre on Robertson, after the devastating NEWSWEEK & LA TIMES articles received attention. He blamed the controversy on outside forces that want that have always tried to keep the light from removing the darkness. He implied, as many of you cult members do in these comment sections, that the Centre is the victim of a Jewish conspiracy to keep kabbalah from being shared. They use this theme often to defend against any criticism & always lay the blame for negativity with religious Jews. Eliyahu famously suggested that the Holocaust killed European Jews & not Sephardic Jews because Ashkenazim opposed kabbalah. “The light was blocked”. Oddly, some Israeli Teachers there hate the Yiddish language & suggest what Hugo implied, that Ashkenazi Jews are not Israelite but impostors. You know you teach that an Israelite is not someone born a Jew but central column restriction, right? Your costumers are the real Israelites who have the right to call Jews & Israelis impostors & usurpers, right? We all know from both Karen’s autobiography & the biography of the Rav that Karen admits she hates religious Jews & rabbis as a rule. She always felt intolerant of them but portrays their lifestyle as intolerant & imposing on others.

        My fellow former students & teachers were constantly & deeply intolerant & openly proud of their hatred for Judaism & Zionism. They were bullies about politics & identity. They always called “Jewish” a negative label, a bondage & addiction that kept people apart. Yet, I was there to unite & was being rejected for not rejecting my Jewishness. I was being told I was not transcendent if I had an ego about being Jewish. Apparently, having an ego about being Jewish is asking any question that suggest you might be uncomfortable with kabbalah being used to justify popular hatred of Jews, known as anti-Semitism. The other students that were allowed & even directed to bully me had their own labels. But those labels apparently aren’t negative & don’t separate people like “Jewish” does. Those students would say that they first came to the Centre because they were sure from celebrity attendance that the Centre’s philosophy agreed with their pre-existing liberal political views, as if that is what kabbalah is all about. They are allowed & basically encouraged to interpret “kabbalah” in any way they like, as liberalism or self-help, but certainly not anything “Jewish”. Are we supposed to shed all labels, even gender, kohanim, Israelite? Kohanim are separated, literally, by their identity. Women will remain unique from men. Isn’t the cult separating itself from Judaism? Or now that the cult was rejected by Judaism, isn’t it really at war with Judaism? Isn’t that the real reason for calling your synagogues “war rooms” other than the fact that non-Jews are told they aren’t partaking of religion & that Judaism is opposed to kabbalah?

        Many people who attended the cult for years, as I did, know that many teachers have taught many times that kabbalah & religious Judaism are opposing forces, that Judaism is a negative misrepresentation of Torah as kabbalah. I heard it said many times, even yesterday from a minor celebrity associate in your LA Centre, that kabbalah as it is taught by your organization is anti-religious. My fellow students & the teachers would often say, “don’t be so religious”, because religious means “doing things by rote & ritual like addiction”. So, “religious” is an aspersion in the cult’s lingo.

        You say not to judge but that’s what your cult does to Judaism. Your cult judges Jews collectively & negatively. That’s just anti-Semitism & it also gets conflated with your liberal student-body’s aversion to Israel’s policies & religious authority in general. You teach non-Jews that it’s good to reject the rabbis in Israel as the source of the world’s chaos. Many of the non-Jews & secular Jews who enter your club already have little understanding of religious Jews or Israel’s struggles from a Jewish point of view &, instead of familiarizing them or uniting them with Jews, your organization takes advantage of that ignorance & prejudice by legitimizing it with your agenda-driven, money-driven, politics-driven, anti-Semitic distortion of “kabbalah”.

        Billy, your cult does not value the Zohar, as it has newbie students off the street handing them out as fliers that are usually discarded as such. If you valued the Zohar, you’d protect it. The students who learn for longer keep their mini Pinchas wrapped and protected, so someone eventually teaches them to respect the Zohar. But how do you justify that many if not most Zohar your students are urged to hand out are not treated with respect? I know Rabbi Nachman of Breslov says something like the messiah will come when Zohar is available everywhere. But does that justify mistreating the Zohar to attain that vague assertion? Would you treat the Torah scroll the same way?

        I remember Moshe saying in class that most Torah scrolls in Orthodox synagogues were not kosher. I’ve heard prominent students and many others, including teachers, say that even educated religious Jews don’t know what they are doing where Torah & kabbalah are concerned & that they “LACK CONSCIOUSNESS”. Moshe urged me in serious terms to cut all ties with religious Jews I know & slandered an entire city in America by name, as if it was Sodom & Gommorah because it has a high population of religious Jews. He said an Orthodox man there punched him once in the 1970s for trying to sell him a Zohar door to door on behalf of the Bergs. So, I should cut ties with my family & friends who are part of that community.

        The Centre & its defenders portray Judaism as divisive for “lacking consciousness” about the true meaning of Torah & for having “labels’, “laws”, “roles”, that are “divisive” & “negative”. But doesn’t the Centre also have labels & rules about what is or isn’t kosher, just like Orthodox Judaism? It’s the same, but you try to spin it as ok when you do it but divisive when religious Jews do it, because you have consciousness & Judaism doesn’t. Right? So, even though your non-Jewish followers don’t admit to themselves that they are doing exactly what religious Jews do, which means basically that attending the connections at the Centre is very similar to practicing Judaism, they are taught that they are not practicing religion (which lacks consciousness) & that they (AND NOT JEWS) are Israelites? Btw, no one restricts there anymore than religious Jews do. So, they aren’t Israelites. They are temporary customers of a cult bookstore that registers itself as a church for tax exemption & tells their students they aren’t a religion while imitating a religion they reject as the source of all chaos.

        Billy, no matter what “ends justifies the means” interpretation you have created for your version of kabbalah, common sense is enough to know you are not honest & cannot be trusted. Your links are deceptive as they imply you are like me, a former student telling the truth in order to protect others from being led into an anti-Semitic cult. Why don’t you just present yourself as a teacher who wants to defend his organization? And you only use the accusation of lashon hara to attack your detractors. My only reason for being a detractor is that you speak lashon hara against Klal Israel, against the community of the Jewish people. You & your leaders have even dehumanized religious Jews. I had to escort my own teacher to the Western Wall because he was literally afraid to go there as if it was foreign hostile territory. He said that his teacher told him that those people, the Jews praying, were “not even human.” But the teachers were not afraid while we were in an Arab country together & the tour guide told us he hated us but loved our money & would love to rape our women. And the group hated me for standing up for free speech and asking him some tough questions. Someone later made a claim that we were detained on our way in because of me, which is crazy, because I didn’t ask my question until after we were in the country & on tour. I never got an explanation. But when we have family in the military. My brother was stationed in that country previously & I know he would not return there. I had also been there before & my credit cards & accounts were not accessible so I left after two hours. But whatever the teachers were telling the other students about me was never explained to me. I left when a celebrity sitting with the Bergs at the head table posted an anti-Semitic libel against Israel on 9-11 in NYC. He accused Israel of genocide against Arabs to protest New Yorkers mourning for what he framed as the false tragedy of 9-11. When I responded to him on his post, as I’ve met him many times & it was a public comment he made, I was utterly ostracized from the community. But ultimately I made the choice to leave, because it’s such obvious hypocrisy that rules there, like a high school with cool kids who bully the Jews. And yet, you act as if Jews are bullying you. I know, it’s just my ego. And you’re just a charlatan who is so brainwashed that he can’t feel guilt or honesty because it might derail his delusion.

      • NOTARABBI says:

        But you claimed Jews are not mentioned in the Bible & that the Israelites & Jews are not the same thing. Now, you’re
        justifying your anti-Semitism against living rabbis on the free hatred at the time of the Temple. And that’s not what you previously wrote. You didn’t previously write that free hatred by Israelites (Jews) destroyed the Temple. You said that Jews were never mentioned in the Bible & that Judaism is the source of all chaos. Your quotes don’t fit those claims, just like your quotes about Jesus do not legitimize your false claims or justify the anti-Semitism you spread. Not to mention, you keep judging others & damning them. But you don’t want that done to you. So, you are doing to others that which you would not done to you, just like you speak lashon hara against Klal Israel & try, unsuccessfully, to use kabbalah to do it. Besides, those who oppose your cult don’t do so for “no reason”. They do so because your cult is a danger to Jews.

  9. Rabbi Kotkin, allowing this loshen hora and spiritual darkness to be printed on your site puts this on your head as well. Best of luck. 🙂

    • NOTARABBI says:

      Rabbi Kotkin, allowing upikorsim to engage in a debate with you about Torah & kabbalah is to give a platform to someone who is not part of Klal Israel & who not only speaks lashon hara againt Klal Israel, but is at war with religious Judaism. Billy Phillips & his cult are in no way part of Judaism, by their very own admission.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      You are the darkest person I have ever encountered, Billy. The sins of your cult are on your head. What ironic is that your student Ingrid called me dark for criticizing the anti-Semitism in the Centre & now she’s dedicating her time to attacking the woman your co-director Yehuda is accused of sexually assaulting & threatening to murder. Your cult attacks isolated victims that had been loyal to you & who you threw in the gutter to protect your industry. Billy, do you deny having knowledge of Yehuda’s previous alleged drug addiction or the fact that many people claim to have witnessed him expose himself at Purim several years ago, including fashion designer Donna Karan? It’s also ironic that you call me dark, but you write in your blog veiled threats against those who criticize you, like you suggested just above in this last comment of yours. Your veiled cursing of our lives is dark. I had gotten several friends into reading the Centre’s books & receiving daily emails, etc. for years. They were having a positive experience thus far. And then when I actually brought them to the Centre, every one of them used that word, “dark” to describe the aura permeating the atmosphere there. Even the woman who checks the list of attendees was miserable & rude, as usual. Everyone there who gets deep into it, falls into a form of idolatry concerning Astrology. Everyone tends to have negative months during Scorpio, Capricorn & Aquarius, as well as during the “low energy” time of the counting of the Omer. These same people were able to enjoy those same months before, and now they feel locked into being trapped by negativity several months out of the year. It’s an illusion. Even if kabbalah describes those months in those terms, the reason the students are suffering at that time is because they become brainwashed to expect suffering at those times. I’m able to enjoy the Omer, now, like the rest of my life. Being in your cult was the darkest, most negative & confusing time of my life.

      • NOTARABBI says:

        And I just want to say that I know I’m not near perfect, modest or pure. So, the only reason I mention Yehuda’s alleged lewdness in front of his students during Purim is because no kabbalist should behave that way. Many people witnessed that. And teachers at your organization are aware of that & other misdeeds, including the alleged sexual attack which the victim first reported to the staff who allegedly confirmed that Yehuda is addicted to pills & “has a problem”. Kabbalists should not behave like their students who are just regular people interested in learning. They should be on a higher level, so we can look up them. Yehuda once joked that he wouldn’t mind if I got undressed, but I didn’t judge him for that & I don’t particularly care about him getting drunk & exposing himself, although I don’t expect it from a leading kabbalist. I actually laughed when he said that to me, even though I felt awkward. I’m not a kabbalist or even religious, which isn’t to say I can be as bad as I want, but I’d never expect anyone to follow me as the leading kabbalist of the generation, especially if I behaved like that.

        Yehuda was generally pleasant. But I never felt so manipulated & bad about myself as I did while I was a student there. There was obviously lashon hara going around inside the Centre, from teachers to the students & always between the students about the teachers. In fact, the students I knew developed a relationship with the teachers that was more like a battle against allowing them to control us completely. We would commiserate between ourselves about how we really didn’t trust the teachers & could never allow them to know how we really felt because we knew they would punish, guilt & manipulate us. It became the teachers vs. the students. We wanted to be part of the Centre, but in order to do so, we began withholding from the teachers, as we really didn’t trust them or even like them. But we felt we needed their approval to have access to kabbalah.

    • Anything that’s taken place in front of 10 people is public knowledge and is not considered lashon hara anymore, though it shouldn’t be repeated if it isn’t constructive. I would argue this back and forth is constructive though, at least until the nastiness started percolating through.

      • like i said, its on your head. wear it. best of luck.

        • NOTARABBI says:

          I’ll take everything upon my head, if it would expose you & your cult to the world as the pariahs you are. It’s hilarious that you recently wrote, in your own defense, that you don’t have the mainstream media on your side to defend you, like the religious Jewish conspiracy against you has at its disposal. You have the biggest names in the world to throw around, even though none of them gives legitimacy to the Centre or has authority to endorse something as genuine Torah. YOU have the mainstream media. The Queen of Comedy is on this comment section, as your former cult member. The Queen of Pop built several of your outposts. Your leader is “rabbi to the stars”, & yet you hide behind, “the Jews control the media & want to keep kabbalah away from gentiles”. Hollywood is your address. London, Manhattan, Tel Aviv. You target the media & cultural capitals, NOT the spiritual ones. You don’t have a Centre in Jerusalem, Tzfat or Hebron. It’s not because that’s where you are most needed. It’s because that’s where you are more likely to get away with duping people who don’t know what they’re looking for or what kabbalah is supposed to be. You also seemed to change you tune about kabbalah endorsing Jesus & Christianity. But you like to have it both ways, always. It’s not you endorsing this or that, it’s kabbalah, and you’re just

          • NOTARABBI says:

            …repeating them. Balaak & Bilaam. Doubt & Confusion.

            There’s an early episode of that show SOUTHPARK in which the anti-Semitic Jews want to destroy Judaism by raising up Haman in place of Moses.

            No one is born bad. No one dies completely evil. People lose their way. As wise as the Rav or any person is, we are all flawed & life is too short. I only wanted to be part of something good, and be able to do it as a Jew. My Jewishness was incidental at best within the Centre & really it was a hinderance. It’s a place for people who cannot imagine how beautiful & kabbalah-based being Jewish has always been. I’m not a rabbi & I never wanted to find myself caught between religious Jews & your organization. But there’s baggage that the Centre brings along & asks students to carry, which is this rivalry between traditional kabbalah & the Berg’s merchandise. The Centre has no interest in unity with or approval from the majority of traditional Jews and that’s a choice that it should accept. No one should confuse the KC with Jewish kabbalah. It’s a new religion, like Christianity, founded by Jewish followers of rabbi who himself adhered to Judaism but whose followers edited & repackaged his message for a broader, non-Jewish audience to control, abuse & fleece just like the corrupt priests Jesus admonished. Only it happened in the Centre in just a few decades, instead of centuries.

      • NOTARABBI says:

        I hope, Rabbi Kotkin, that you do not disapprove of my comments, even though I am not asking you to endorse them. I’ve found that sharing my experience has helped other former cult members find clarity & transition towards healthy, non-cult living. Sharing my experience has also prevented people from leaving Judaism for a cult that endorses Jesus & the Palestinian agenda while promoting anti-Semitism & anti-Zionism.

        Some of my experiences & the behavior of the Centre are distasteful to hear. But that’s the ugly truth. And I thank you, again, for allowing me to be part of this exchange, as I agree with you that it is constructive. I only hope you include my comments as those that are helpful & not those with the “nastiness percolating through”, as I believe that best describes Billy’s feelings about you as a religious Jewish rabbi. My own negative feelings are clearly only directed at the Centre for being an anti-Semitic cult.

        • I told it to Roseanne and I told it to you (assuming it is really her). I wrote it to open the conversation because my target audience, college students, need to see what these things are really about. Whether I agree with you or not, you’ve been civil for the most part and informative, so I will allow you to continue.

          • NOTARABBI says:

            Thank you. And if I have been uncivil towards Billy & his agenda, it comes from a place of love for the Jewish people & from my personal resentment of my personal experiences with the cult. I’m passionate because I’m certain of the cult’s potential danger towards Jews and of the damage they’ve already done. I can see why some Jews would want to reject kabbalah altogether, after Shabtai Tzvi & these new charlatans actually cause anti-Semitism both by their abuse of people in the name of kabbalah & by specifically directing their students to reject Judaism as a “source of all the worlds chaos”..

          • I just think it’s sad that he stopped the conversation after pulling out one Zohar that he didn’t know, that just happened to be the key to approaching Kabbalah in general.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Billy
    Try googling “billy phillips” and “slander” and one come up with over 1000 hits. Over and over and over again you threaten anyone who has anything negative to say about Center o with that word in order to scare people into thinking that may be sued. Is this your sole job in life? Is this how you protect your “people” who have countless lawsuits and federal and grand jury investigations? Is “Slander ” the buzz word you use to try and quiet the masses of people complaining. Do you counter our first amendment right to free speech with threats of lawsuits or lashon hora. Is every one who has a complaint coming from the “Dark side” trying to defeat the “light” which the Center holds a monopoly on??
    Look Berg himself was a nice guy who got horribly sick and died and no one wants to defame his memory. But what about the truth Billy; doesnt that matter. What about the fact that the Zohar like all other books of Jewish Wisdom are free in any shul library. Why profit from plain water and red strings? Why package and sell what is our G-d given right to learn freely at our own expense. So you Billy, accuser of the masses which are growing exponentially answer one and only one question:
    Why did Shraga Feivel Gruberger , who fathered over 9 kids (including from his prior marriage which led him to Reb Brandwein), change his name to Phil Berg when he was in his mid forties?
    ANSWER THE QUESTION BILLY PHILLIPS

    • NOTARABBI says:

      Hello Jeffrey,

      I’m expecting Billy to claim that all the people posting comments here are really one person using multiple accounts. He & his army of defenders often do that as a way to minimize & delegitimize claims by former students who can corroborate the negative behavior of the Centre. I have read comments from other former Kabbalah Centre students & other detractors of the Centre, like yourself, that do sound so similar to my own experience & opinion that even I could see why the Centre & its defender would want to believe there are less critics than there really are. But the truth is that there must be a lot of people who have had similar experiences in the Centre. But personally, I don’t think changing one’s name necessarily indicates anything particularly negative. Many authors & public figures change their names.

      However, the fact that Berg did leave his wife & family for Karen, who Berg met & employed from the age of 16, was probably one reason to change his name. What I think people forget or miss the point about is that Berg left his teacher’s niece. Berg’s supporters want to pretend that Berg’s teacher, Rav Brandwein, would have endorsed Berg leaving his teacher’s niece, Berg’s own wife & children. Karen writes that Rav Brandwein visited her in her dream & when she told Berg he knew it was true. So, Berg abandoned his teacher’s niece, his own wife & their children together, because his anti-religious secretary supposedly dreamt of Rav Bradwein. I wonder why Rav Brandwein didn’t just visit his own niece in a dream to tell her to give up her husband.

      Rav Brandwein passed his authority on to his son, not Berg, and Berg claims otherwise. I spoke to students of Rav Brandwein & his students. They actually admit that Berg was a brilliant learner, maybe the best among them at one time. The Centre sells a book of letters from Rav Brandwein to Berg that show how they were close at one time. But the Brandwein students that I spoke to all agreed that Rav Brandwein never gave Berg his approval for anything he did with Karen. Rav Brandwein never taught non-Jews or suggested Berg do so in Hollywood. That was all Karen.

      I know the college rabbi doesn’t approve of lashon hara, because he’s likely a good man & a real rabbi. However, the community I learn with, the community that looks to men like Rav Pam & Rav Moshe Feinstein, does not include Berg in the category of people not to speak about. I was taught that he & his cult are something that needs to be talked about negatively in order to protect Jews from their predatory practices & because it’s simply a cult that is outside the realm of true kabbalah & Torah. Berg’s cult is not a stream of Judaism at all. They are people who lead Jews astray, not closer to Torah. It has made people somewhat literate in Jewish ideas, but it poisons the true meaning & actually uses it against Judaism. The Centre is actually anti-Semitic.

      So, even though non-Jews like Ashton Kutcher can read a siddur in Hebrew, it’s not actually trying to bring Jews closer to Torah. If there are people who eventually got closer to Torah & the Kabbalah Centre was part of their education, it still doesn’t bring the Centre into the fold of Judaism. The Centre stands willfully apart & opposed to Judaism. So, just because a person learns things that are similar to Judaism that might later help that person take part in Torah as a Jew, it’s really not that different than if a person also eventually became closer to Torah after learning in any organization or cult, even just another religion like Christianity. Judaism, kabbalah & Christianity share a source, but that doesn’t mean that Christianity is a part of Judaism & that we can’t speak against the Pope should he do something anti-Semitic. Likewise, the Kabbalah Centre and its leader do not fall within Judaism and since they do promote anti-Semitism & distort the wisdom to do so, we can speak against them. In fact, we are probably encouraged to defend Jews against anti-Semitic cults, even if they are run by apostate Jews like Berg & his staff.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Below is from Billy Phillips Web site
    Moral- anyone who complains gets cancer, dies, gets, sick and or penniless because they dared to “defy the light”:

    About tweny years ago, I was in Kabbalah for a few years. There was a horrific article written about the Kabbalah Centre. There were slanderous, vile comments about Rav Berg and Karen Berg from a rabbi in Paris that were published in a Toronto newspaper. I blew a fuse. I lost it. I was on the warpath. The Rav just smiled at me. I said to the Rav, “Lets fight back! Let me write up a letter of response and slam this rabbi!” The Rav happened to be in Toronto at the time, at my office. So the Rav said, “Okay, Billy go ahead. Write up the letter.”

    The Rav and I sat for two hours carefully composing the most biting, hard hitting, and scathing letter imaginable. The content of this letter righted every wrong. It lambasted the rabbi for every falsehood and provided all the evidence necessary to disprove the inaccuracies and show the ugliness of his comments. The Rav then helped me carefully edit it. Word by word. Meticulously. After it was finally done, The Rav leaned back in his chair, looked me in the eye and said, “Now erase it from your computer.” Wow! My jaw dropped to the floor. What a lesson. From that point, I understood, just a little bit, the power of the Kabbalist. No need to take revenge or wish ill will on anyone. No reason to dignify the lies and dirt. Simply shine Light and Light will eradicate darkness. I needed to remove my own ego, to get rid of the intolerance in my own nature which only nourishes and gives power to those who oppose the Light.

    As an aside, I was stunned and frightened when I learned that the rabbi was struck down with stomach cancer literally a few months later. I was stunned when a rabbi who slandered the Centre dropped dead in an airport in South Africa choking on food. How tragic and sad that they did not get the chance to recant their words and make reparations for the damage they had done. I saw lots of stories like that. I saw an ex-student who lied and libeled the Centre and ran to the government with a bagful of lies. Of course, nothing ever happened and all was cleared up 100% without a single incident. But of course, no one heard about the positive outcome of that slanderous episode. I saw this person then lose his entire family, his livelihood and watch him endure heart breaking and tragic adversity over the next 15 years of his life. He still calls the Centre to this day, begging and pleading for forgiveness. Of course, he was forgiven years ago by the Centre. His only problem remains the karmic debt that he still has to pay off.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      I read this also. I guess Billy fell back into the petty ways he was advised by the Rav to get over decades ago. Or maybe he never changed & always ignored the Rav’s advice about his huge, angry ego. He does more harm to his cult by his ego’s need to defend the Centre. He does wish revenge on his detractors, celebrating their deaths, yet spinning Bergs own illness & death into a good thing. We all die because we lack connection, but Berg died because he was too connected. Berg died like the rabbis who opposed him, because humans die. I’ve never heard any rabbi point to a person’s death as proof he was speaking lashon hara. Only Billy thinks being a kabbalist means rejoicing in the death of a Jew or a rabbi for criticizing his anti-Semitic cult.

      Billy claims that Jews hate Berg just as they hated Moses. But Jews love Moses, even if our ancestor who were slaves in Egypt questioned & doubted Moses in the wilderness. Billy & his fellows are the Bilaams & Balaaks of our time. They sow lies to reap chaos & confusion.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      The real reason Billy left this conversation thread was not because he opposes lashon hara (since he speaks it constantly against Jews), but because he knows that we know him & his cult better than the College Rabbi, with respect to Rabbi Kotkin. Billy only plays nice with those who haven’t already become familiar with his tactics. He never answers why he uses misleading & deceptive links to promote what he leads you to believe he’s against. Rabbi Kotkin, you are good to refrain from lashon hara, but that does not apply to those who lead Jews away from Torah & promote anti-Semitism in kabbalah’s name. Thank you for allowing me to share here. My sources are my experiences. My only agenda is the truth & to protect Jews from slander & falling into that cult, like I did.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    Not a Rabbi
    I mostly agree except on one point. I agree with your assessment regarding Rabbi Brandwein OBM which Berg met only as his first wife Rivka Brandwein’s uncle. Anyone who has a neice- which is who Rivka was to Reb Brandwein- can ask themselves; would u countenance a relationship between your neice’s husband and his younger secretary. Does anyone think that Reb Brandwein would betray his own flesh and blood in favor of a relationship between his neice’s husband with an admitted then non religious woman. Is this at all logical. Does this make any sense? The point I disagree with is regarding the name change. Of course there are many valid reasons for a name change; female marriage taking on a new husband’s name which this is not; or one wishes to anglecanize their name to make it sound less “religious’ which flies in the face of wearing a yarmulka, beard and calling oneself Rav. The name change is only important in its chronology of whatever else was going on contemporaneously at that time. Answering why the name change is just one of many questions people deserve answers to.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      Jeffrey,

      I see your point. I agree with you. And furthermore, if you just listen to what Karen writes & says, she famously & proudly took the Rav’s strimmel off his head, on Shabbat, & threw out the window into the street below & forbade it ever more. She did that as her symbolic message about religious Jews, in general. So, what you said does make sense, that Berg was trying to de-Judaize himself to market his brand to a broader audience that wasn’t limited to educated Jews. He also published himself as “Dr.”, until he was asked to show credentials. Then he removed that title on future publications. He also published a set of essays that another rabbi had written, but Berg took credit for & later paid the family for the rights, after they objected to his plagiarism. It’s obvious the Rav Brandwein did not direct or endorse Berg in the path Berg took, because the Berg was resistant to the very direction he eventually allowed Karen to direct him towards, which was Hollywood, etc. Berg didn’t go straight from learning with Rav Brandwein to then fulfill his teacher’s direction. He simply left his teacher’s community & then later decided upon a new path with Karen, not sanctioned by Rav Brandwein. Berg did not want to teach anyone other than educated, religious, Jewish men & he didn’t for a long time, until Karen convinced him to…and then Jewish women, then non Jews, then non-Jews could attend Shabbat, then they removed the mechitzah for the non-Jewish female celebrities who found it offensive, and now those newbies are called Israelites & Jews are impostors…according to the Centre. There’s no way Rav Brandwein sanctioned this. Thank you for sharing your views.

      • Wow. Looks like I missed a massive conversation on this. One I’m glad I didn’t inject myself into.

        • NOTARABBI says:

          But I think it’s one you began & that our personal experiences simply add weight to what you seem to have already suspected & held against the Bergs’ cult. No? If I’m offending you, rabbi, please tell me & I’ll cease.

  13. The Rav was the most elevated soul of all the souls of Jews or non Jews ever in my life, and I have been lucky enough to have met many elevated souls. I saw The Rav save lives. Mine was one of them.

    • I understand he did make a huge impact on a lot of lives. I’m very sorry for your loss. While I can’t understand it completely, I too lost my rabbi, the one that ordained me. It feels like losing your guiding light. My sincere condolences.

    • I did not write this article to trash or disparage him, but rather to analyze a life and a legacy for a specific audience. Unlike cars and electronics, relatively little is available for young adults to make educated choices about religion. I meant for this article to open the conversation, not to close it.

    • NOTARABBI says:

      I believed in the Rav, too. I saw him as my Rav, too. I loved him. I thought about him at every connection throughout the day, for his health, and with gratitude for the connection I believed he provided me. And I still cannot remove him from my memory when I pray as a Jew, as I had done before I met him & studied in his organization. In that way, by letting go of him as the idol I kept, I also lost part of my Jewishness. I gave it over to the Centre & when I took it back, it was stained & probably always will be. They hurt my connection to Hashem, by falsifying the wisdom & being careless with people.

      I did not know him as you did. I arrived just after his stroke in 2004 & only spoke with him on a few occasions. I felt fortunate to do mikveh near him on the eve of Yom Kippur in Israel, to be at weddings he officiated & his birthdays, along with the Shabbats & holidays. I was happy to be mocked daily for handing out Zohars in the cold, on the streets, for years, even by several celebrities who apparently don’t care for Madonna’s religious choices, even though they’ll work with her. In hopes to shake me free, my friends & family even mocked my belief that being knee deep in the community’s waste, with lungs full of chemicals, was my way of purifying my soul & helping protect the community. I became one of those people who lost a decade & everyone & everything outside the Centre, because I listened to my teachers who used the Rav’s persona to hypnotize me. A famous news outlet even shared my personal videos of the Rav, which I did mean to share as a way of promoting the Centre. The news caster also mocked my devotion & the words I used to describe him, which invited many negative comments directed at the Centre and myself which I had not expected or experienced before. It was humiliating & confusing, because I thought people would see the beauty in the Rav’s community. But what was worse was that the Centre seemed to hold it against me when I asked what I should learn from it, as if I meant to draw negative attention to them when I was genuinely devoted. But that helped me see that they didn’t care about me.

      As you know, the Rav was not in charge for a long time leading up to his death, which itself was a tragic event that I was personally promised would not be possible. They disillusioned a lot of people with promises they couldn’t possibly keep. I cannot judge, except what I’ve been through. I’ve also met elevated souls, Jewish & Gentile. A person who saves a soul saves a universe…no matter what else he does… I cannot say who is the most elevated. But I can say that the Centre is not the Rav. The Rav & the Centre are not synonymous with kabbalah, however popular they’ve become & however many people think so. Karen laments opening it up, because it lost its way. I’ve also read a quote attributed to Roseanne Barr to the effect of, and I’m loosely paraphrasing: “G*d & kabbalah could not compete with Madonna & so something had to give & that was the authenticity of kabbalah & the authority of G*d…for star power”.

      Of course, as much as I was a fan of Madonna, I am also a fan of you & your shows. You actually remind me of my own late mother. I was touched to learn how hard it was growing up Jewish in Mormon Utah. I’ve always been grateful for your outspokenness & honesty, even when I don’t agree with you. You’re a needed personality type & a force for good. And I occasionally read your blog posts, several of which are much harsher against Israel than anything I’ve said about the Centre. But I defend you to my fellow Jews who say you are an anti-Semitic Jew for saying that Israel is a Nazi state destroying the Jewish soul & that 40% of Jews are blind to the genocide Israel commits against Gaza in our names, because I know you are truly a Jew & truly come from a good place of love & desire for peace & unity.

      But I feel hurt by you & the Centre & others in the mainstream “liberal” media & anyone who necessarily portrays either Judaism or Zionism as evils that threaten the world. I cannot believe that is what you believe, but it adds to the chorus of actual anti-Semites who want to destroy Israel & exterminate Jews. Israel is a thriving, progressive democracy whose Supreme Court is filled with Jews, lol, not rabbis, but legal experts. Everyone is a lawyer in Israel. The Arabs citizens of Israel vote in the Knesset against Israel. A Palestinian state won’t include Jewish Israeli lawmakers or protect the freedoms you & I love, like gay rights, women’s rights, or even Muslim rights. The only Arab Palestinians were lead by a cohort of Hitler’s & they are still lead by those who share Hitler’s agenda. But I know you feel that dressing as Hitler helps to make Jews forget about him, as he was unique & neither is Jewish suffering. I agree in some ways.

      My support of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan, & previously in Gaza, Sinai & trans-Jordan Palestine is the same fight Gandhi fought, for the freedom of his people to self-determination on their own land. More people died in his non-violent revolution than in Israel’s defensive wars against annihilation. Gandhi said that Hitler must be opposed & that if Jews were to follow non-violence, they would suffer great losses. And they knew what that was like already. And they didn’t want another fight with the whole Arab world. But not being prepared a second time would have been foolish. Jewish self-defense is not the cause of Arab suffering. Arab hatred is. Too many celebrities help prolong the Arabs’ suffering by ignoring its source, their own anti-Jewish leadership & brainwashing. Homes & roadblocks built to repatriate Jews on land that the Arab forces previously forced the defenseless, ancient, civilian communities of Jews off of in 1929 & ethnically cleansed the area of until 1967, are not a form of genocide. Genocide is what the Arabs intended for Jews that caused them to become an enemy to defend oneself from, legitimately. Israeli PMs have offered the PA everything several times, even though they will never be expected to reciprocate the recognition of human dignity. They outright deny all Jewish claims. So, as good-hearted as you are, your criticism of Israel just gets used to justify Arab hatred of Jews that has nothing to do with Israeli policy, since it began before Israel existed.

      The Rav was previously Zionistic & I understand he even claimed he had something to do with Israel’s victory in 1967, which is when & how Israel earned the undeserved reputation of an occupier on its own land. The Arabs only became the majority under illegal Jordanian & Egyptian rule that was not internationally recognized, during which Jordan flooded the Arab with Arab immigrants & systematically destroyed all traces of Jewish presence. Yet, Israel never expelled the Arabs it retained on the land it liberated & did not annex, instead creating the autonomous PA which the Arabs vote in & are ruled by on their own areas. Negotiations & compromise should reflect the Arab rejection of Jews & the ancient, constant Jewish presence & unparalleled connection to the land.

      My condolences to you. I’m on my own out here between Judaism, kabbalah, & nothingness. I’m not in a cult anymore or on tv, so no one will make exceptions for my uncomfortable truths. It’s not easy on your own. Cults ARE the ready-made puzzle, already done for you, especially if you’re an influential celebrity who can steer more people one way or another.

      I pray for you, Roseanne, that you find a way to help the Jewish soul without hurting the Jewish body. G*d Bless you.

      • I think you haven’t been following Roseanne’s views on Israel lately. She’s come around quite a bit, and I’ve enjoying watching her trash anti-Zionists on Twitter. I will give her a lot of credit for opening up to the possibility of changing her opinions.

        • NOTARABBI says:

          It’s hard to keep up with every celebrity who first hates Israel but then doesn’t and does again. But I do like Roseanne & did give her the benefit of the doubt. I did write that I do believe she’s coming from a place of love & thanked her for her honesty. But I remembered those posts & I mention them in relation to how the Centre educates students about Jews and Israel. I also prayed for her to find a better way. And I’m glad if she has.

          • At least on the Israel thing it seems sincere. Israellycool has been tracking her for a long time and updates periodically. Newest tweets say she wants to make Aliyah now.

  14. The Rav put it in simple words for hungry hearts.

    • I understand you were quite close to him, and I would venture to say you have a perspective on him most do not. I’d like to hear more about what it is that you felt like he did for you, what he said, what he offered that was so different.

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