Ira Rifkin has an interesting article in this week’s Jewish Week about the Tiferet Institute’s recent conference on Kabbalah for the Masses.
Rifkin notes that the most notable participant was the Kabbalah Centre’s Rabbi Michael Berg. Kudos to the conference organizers for finding a way to engage and debate Berg and not just ignore him.
One of the major topics at the conference was the ways in which Kabbalah should be studied by non-Jews.
Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi noted that Jewish Renewal has always borrowed “spiritual technologies from other traditions?” so why shouldnâ€™t non-Jews borrow from Judaism? “HaShem speaks through other people and to other people also,” he said.
The primary dissenter on this point was Rabbi Moshe Genuth.
Rabbi Genuth, director of Toronto’s Ba’al Shem Tov Center, came as a disciple of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, a Lubavitcher-Chabad Hasid who has aroused controversy within that movement â€“ not least of all because his Website calls him â€œthe worldâ€™s foremost authority on Kabbalah.”
Kabbalah, said Rabbi Genuth, is for Jews alone. “The Jewish people are the bride of the Almighty…and in the end you donâ€™t let anyone into your bedroom.” Teaching gentiles Kabbalah “is like a couple exposing their most intimate secrets to the world.”
Pronounced: KHAH-seed, Origin: Hebrew, a Hasidic Jew, a follower of Hasidic Judaism, a stream within ultra-Orthodox Judaism that grew out of an 18th-century mystical revival.
Pronounced: kah-bah-LAH, sometimes kuh-BAHL-uh, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish mysticism.
Pronounced: moe-SHEH, Origin: Hebrew, Moses, whom God chooses to lead the Jews out of Egypt.