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The Kabbalah Centre has been the leading proponent in making the once arcane wisdom of Kabbalah accessible to the lay person. Since it's inception in 1922, the Centre and its teachers have suffered physical as well as character assaults. But the passion and commitment to delivering knowledge and tools that can help remove chaos from the world has never wavered.
When the Kabbalah Centre opened its doors to teach Kabbalah to all who have a desire to learn – an unprecedented break with tradition -- antagonism towards us ranged from calling the Centre a watered down version of Kabbalah to outright accusations of heresy.
Some said that it was impossible, to bring forth a universally understandable interpretation of so deep and complex a tradition. Kabbalah, as presented by the Centre, therefore, must be an inaccurate and superficial version. In addition, the Centre was looked upon as having mistakenly taken this bold step towards inclusiveness at a time when the prohibition of the study of Kabbalah still persisted in most venues – as if the mere existence of a widespread prohibition was a reason for keeping Kabbalah’s sublime teachings from all who are searching for them.
Furthermore, although the so-called millennia-old prohibition which the Centre was accused of violating and for which it suffered abuse and degradation, did exist at one time, it was revoked some 450 years ago by the great Kabbalist Rav Avraham Azulai. Yet pleas by the Centre that Rav Azulai's declaration had nullified the prohibition did little to lessen the continuing antagonism. Of course, when we reflect on the lives of many courageous kabbalists over the past three centuries, we realize that these pioneering individuals underwent the same abusive treatment that befell the founders of the Kabbalah Centre some 80 years ago.
From outright rejection of the Centre's bold initiative, sentiment today – after 30 years of asserting that Kabbalah should be reserved for the select few – has undergone a 180 degree reversal. Learning Kabbalah is becoming widely encouraged. As to why a mere 30 years earlier the study of Kabbalah was forbidden and now all prohibitions have been removed – this will always remain a mystery. If, indeed, the Kabbalah Centre had violated a millennia-old prohibition, why has this suddenly changed after only 30 years? What seems to become clear from reviewing the past three decades is the fact that antagonism towards the Centre was totally unfounded.
In any case, the question I would now like to raise regarding opposition to the widespread teaching of Kabbalah is this: Why should this particular discipline and teaching be singled out? Only under the most flagrantly oppressive regimes, has a group of people claimed authority to decide for others what they could and could not study. Yet the traditional prohibition of Kabbalistic study by the layman continued for millennia. Why Kabbalah?
Fortunately, the answer to this perplexing question appears clearly and simply in the teachings of The Zohar. When we examine The Zohar, as I have with the assistance of my master and his master before him, we begin to see the light of day.
Like The Book of Formation, authored by the Patriarch Avraham some 4000 years ago, it becomes crystal clear that The Zohar has a life of its own and its own immortality. The teachings and disciplines of The Zohar are clearly intended for the removal of chaos from this planet. The, metaphysical force behind the suppression of The Zohar's wisdom is none other than Satan, for if chaos were to be permanently eliminated, Satan would be out of a job. Satan's very reason for being is to preserve the chaotic environment that has engulfed mankind since the beginning of time. He has used the familiar tools of greed, envy, and jealousy to achieve this end. As, The Zohar states, he has mustered even the most learned scholars to fulfill his destiny. He has filled both spiritual and secular leaders with a hatred towards kabbalists, whose desire was to remove pain and suffering from human life. These leaders justified their repressive decrees by declaring that the world at large was not spiritually, competent to pursue the study of Kabbalah. But who were they to declare anyone incapable or unworthy to pursue a discipline that could remove, chaos from the face of this earth?
Some might disagree concerning the existence of such an evil force as Satan. However, upon observation of our own daily behavior, we can all surely recognize the presence of this very powerful force within us. How many times have we realized that a particular action should not be undertaken, yet we’ve gone ahead and done it anyway? How many times have we known that we should be doing something for the benefit of our souls, but an inner voice whispers, “Why bother?” That little coercive whisper is what Satan is all about. Make no mistake: Satan is alive and well. He seems to be in a position of continuing domination of our lives, allowing us no hope for our liberation from chaos, pain and suffering.
However, this does not provide us with the answer as to why there was a prohibition of the study of Kabbalah to begin with and what changed some 450 years ago with Rav Azulai's decree. The Zohar explains that the original prohibition was not a prohibition as we currently understand the word. The teachings of Kabbalah were simply so advanced that, prior to the 20th century, there was no real life framework or context that could provide the layman with an understanding of the insights that Kabbalah offered.
With the advent of Newtonian physics some 300 years ago, science began to break out of the dogmatic understandings of the nature of the physical reality and started moving towards a new acceptance of things beyond physicality. This made some of the disciplines stated in Kabbalah more accessible. Rav Avraham Azulai, some 150 years previously had foreseen the developments in science that would make the study of Kabbalah more easily understood. The prohibition against the widespread lay study of Kabbalah was merely a device to caution the student of Kabbalah that its teachings could not yet be grasped nor fully understood.
The Zohar states that its teachings and disciplines will all become revealed during the Age of Aquarius and that the Age of Aquarius would user in phenomena that not only did not exist previously, but that no one had even dreamt about. All this did, in fact, take place during the 20th century, when the setting for The Zohar's revelations was accompanied by the revelations of modem physics. And therefore, some 80 years ago, Rav Yehuda Ashlag presented a full comprehensive explanation of the disciplines of Kabbalah, which go far beyond even the insights of modem science. Rav Ashlag's presentation revealed the origin and deep meaning of all existence, beyond the limitation of the five senses.
Like other Kabbalists before him, Rav Ashlag was condemned and physically abused for making this wisdom more accessible – creating the first complete translation of and commentary on the entire Zohar. Rav Ashlag's writings provided all the necessary tools for removing chaos from our midst. Humanity was, for the first time, able to free itself from the clutches of Satan. This created a serious dilemma for Satan, who enlisted the aid and support of many leaders in the community to quietly (or otherwise) remove the so called heretic Rav Ashlag from their midst. Fortunately, they did not succeed, and the world now benefits from Rav Ashlag's accomplishments. For the very first time, the complete compendium of Kabbalah was available to all those who sought its teachings.
We now have an understanding as to why this particular discipline was so successfully concealed from the world. The revelation of this knowledge would have brought an end to the chaos that had prevailed over so many millennia. The power behind the effort to keep The Zohar distant from humanity was none other than Satan himself. It is Satan's vast arsenal of potential chaotic interference that keeps him reigning supreme. He knows exactly when and where to strike so that he can take full advantage of any and all vulnerable conditions.
With the advent of the Age of Aquarius, the prophetic assurances by Rav Shimon bar Yochai in The Zohar have become a reality. We are now experiencing the revelation of this vast body of knowledge. At no time in previous history has the Kabbalah reached and touched so many millions of people as in the present moment. Life without chaos has never before been within reach of all of mankind.
And as we take notice of the awesome and tremendous progress that the Centre has made in bringing this wisdom to the people, within the past five years, we realize the sublime clarity of The Zohar's wisdom regarding the elimination of Satan. Yet this wisdom, along with the corresponding scientific breakthroughs such as the rejuvenation of cells, would have been deemed nonsensical daydreams until very recently. Only a few short years ago, these ideas would have been considered wishful thinking. Yet in a short period of time, the consciousness of humanity has become so elevated that these ideas are becoming wholly acceptable realities.
Understanding how global consciousness could so dramatically change maybe difficult for most people. However, from a Kabbalistic perspective, the infusion of Light experienced by so many millions who either read or scan The Zohar has unquestionably dealt a severe blow to Satan and his forces of darkness. The Light revealed by The Zohar has replaced this darkness to a great extent and has opened the door for the seemingly futuristic concepts expressed in The Zohar.
This period in which we now fortunately and meritoriously find ourselves shows great promise for the elimination of chaos in general, and specifically for the disappearance of illness and chaotic health conditions. At no previous time in history have so many progressive ideas appeared, leading all of humanity to the understanding that we can indeed live with eternal good health, and without fear of mortality. I, for one, have not discovered nor have there been any ideas presented as to why all this is taking place at the present time. Why has this taken place? In the absence of any other explanation, The Zohar can and should be considered the force behind such good fortune and hope.
The power of The Zohar does it all. Humanity can, for the very first time, honestly look forward to an improvement in our lives. While some may have difficulty in understanding how the scanning and reading of this precious document can so deeply influence the momentous changes in our lives, this is precisely what was prophesied some 2000 years ago within The Zohar's very pages.
Another devious path along which Satan has led mankind has been the academic classification of The Zohar, which was designed to divert its teachings from their true purpose. Scholars – not kabbalists – have labeled the disciplines and teachings of The Zohar as a philosophy, completely ignoring the eternal consequences that could and would result from its study. Others have made an attempt to place The Zohar in the category of religion, and more precisely, as an adjunct to or by-product of Judaism. Yet The Zohar and its predecessor, The Book of Formation, existed long before there was any formal religion. This clearly and unquestionably demonstrates the universality of these teachings. Therefore, whether or not one is versed in Aramaic or Hebrew – and most of mankind is not – the opportunity to scan this awesome compendium can and will, without any reservation, reveal the Lightforce of the Creator for ourselves and for the entire world.
The need to reveal this Lightforce has never been greater than in our time, with its awesome possibility of nuclear warfare that could obliterate life from the face of the earth. Confronted with this terrible reality, it is incumbent upon all mankind to infuse our environment with as much Light as possible. What must be stressed concerning The Zohar is not so much the knowledge that it provides, but rather its higher purpose of ridding our lives of chaos.
The concept of scanning different sources of scripture without reading or understanding its text, suggested by the Kabbalah Centre was met with harsh and extreme criticism. This radical idea aroused much wrath on the part of those who asserted th at scanning was another attempt by the Centre to mislead people. However, scanning has been an integral part of many spiritual traditions since their inception. The most important of these is the prohibition, by Jewish religious authority, of mentioning the name of God as the Tetragrammaton. When there is a need to recite the Tetragrammaton in prayer books and elsewhere, the rabbis stipulated that one should only scan the Tetragrammaton. In fact, they inserted another word that consists of a totally different combination of letters, and instructed us to recite this other name of God – Adonai – in its place.
The Tetragrammaton is inserted merely for scanning purposes. In the scroll of the Torah, we find written words that are not recited, and sometimes words are recited that are completely different from those that are written. The reason given for this highly unusual procedure is to connect, through scanning, to the unspoken, written word in the Torah – in order to tap into the awesome Lightforce that is available within the unspoken word. The scanning of The Zohar and important texts, including the Torah scroll itself, has always been considered a more powerful connection than the physical, oral expression of these words.
In my humble opinion, the methodology of’ scanning has been the most powerful single force demonstrated and activated by the people for realizing the hope of a chaos-free universe. Therefore, to turn away millions of seekers who have a desire to improve their lives, solely on the premise that they do no understand or read the language of The Zohar, must be considered a great travesty of justice.
This certainly could not have been the intent of Moses when he instructed Rav Shimon bar Yochai in the purpose of The Zohar’s creation – to realize humankind’s dream of eliminating chaos from the entire universe. To indulge in philosophical speculations about what constitutes “real” Kabbalah is an exercise in futility. Discussion as to who possesses the “true” Kabbalah and who should be considered the “authentic” authority is merely another tool of Satan to divert attention the The Zohar’s true purpose.
No one questions whether The Zohar and most other writings of famed Kabbalists of the past are valid or credible sources of Kabbalistic wisdom or not. The Kabbalah Centre has become known for its work to simplify the complexity of Zoharic interpretation. However correct or incorrect these interpretations might be, let us not be diverted from the ultimate benefit that can accrue to all mankind. The Zohar is and will always be the ultimate tool for all of us in our efforts to improve our own lives and the lives of all of humanity.
This article originally appeared in Kabbalah Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2000.