From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ashton Kutcher's kabbalistic rabbi

(Zodiac in 6th-Century Synagogue)

Last week, Ashton Kutcher attended the GQ Gentlemen’s Ball - not with his wife, but with his rabbi.

Rabbi Philip Berg - described by as Kutcher’s
“spiritual mentor” - is the “current Dean of the worldwide
Kabbalah Centre organization.”  According to Wikipedia,
Rabbi Berg was “born as Shraga Feivel Gruberger in
Brooklyn to an Orthodox Jewish family.”  It is practically at that point where the biographical agreement ends and the controversy begins.

There has not only been a great deal of controversy about
Rabbi Berg’s religious beliefs, but there has also been much
controversy about some aspects of his “resume.”  Although
Rabbi Berg has consistently claimed to have replaced Rabbi
Yehuda Brandwein (relative of Rabbi Berg’s first wife, and former “dean of the prestigious Yehiva Kol Yehuda”) - Rabbi Brandwein’s son, Avraham (the current dean of Yeshiva Kol Yehuda) begs to differ.  Nevertheless, the Articles of Incorporation that eventually led to the
establishment of Rabbi Berg’s current organization, The Kabbalah Centre, were signed back in 1965 by both Rabbi Berg and Rabbi Brandwein.

The controversy surrounding Berg’s interpretations of Judaism and the Kabbalah is an ancient one.  Essentially, it entails the very definition of Judaism.  In other words, is Judaism at least partially defined by a strict adherence to what has been called “Jewish Law” (Halakha) for centuries?  Many insist, "Yes!"  Rabbi Berg instead “teaches that knowing the purpose behind Halakha is more important.”

This knowledge that Rabbi Berg imparts has many dimensions.  It includes astrology (as influenced by the
Sefer Yetzirah), reincarnation (Gilgulim), spiritual practices (rather than “dogmatic ritual”), astral projection, telepathy, clairvoyance, extra-terrestrial (“non-corporeal”) beings, the application of kabbalistic wisdom to everyday life, ego (sa’tan) vs. Light (“non-reactivity” vs. “proactivity”), free will to “repair the shattered vessel” (tikkun olam) and “make the world a better place,” and denying no one the study of Kabbalah (irregardless of their “religion or gender”).  


Copyright November 2, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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