Below is a courageous letter that I personally believe sheds a profound light on the opposition to the Kabbalah Centre. The letter is from a gentleman by the name of Stephen Glass, former volunteer, student and administrator of the Kabbalah Centre in Toronto:
I have read with great interest the recent attacks on the Kabbalah Centre by disgruntled former students of Kabbalah and their tax situation. How do I know that the attacks were incited originally by disgruntled former students?Well, I know, because I was once one myself, and I’m ashamed of the lies and distortions I created to try to retaliate against the Kabbalah Centre. I will forever be grateful that the authorities rejected the anti-Centre information that I tried to peddle to them, and I am very confident that,when all is said and done, the current attacks against Centre and the Berg family by disgruntled former students will also be rejected. Here’s my story:
In 1988, a kabbalist / rabbi by the name of Rabbi Philip Berg came to Toronto to speak; some 300 attendees came to hear the kabbalist. After so much searching for G-d through Eastern religions and philosophy, I was overjoyed to hear Rabbi Berg’s dissertation on the kabbalah and spirituality. In short order I became a student of The Kabbalah Centre in Toronto; it was remarkable what subjects were comprehensively covered by the Kabbalah Centre . My teacher was a young man named Eitan Yardeni— he would, years later, come to worldwide attention from becoming the spiritual teacher of Madonna.
From 1988 to 1994, I was a very involved volunteer of The Kabbalah Centre. Over a disagreement of “halacha” (Jewish law) between myself and Rabbi Berg, I became suddenly disenchanted and estranged. I departed from the Kabbalah Centre; an organization which taught me most of what I now know of Torah and the Kabbalah.
My disagreement led me to begin to rigorously fight against The Kabbalah Centre, in every way I could think of.
I knew the Centre did nothing wrong; yet, I just went about trying to build a case. I created the case. I did all kinds of stuff that was not right. It was manic, raging abusive behavior because of my ego and it was helped by my being bipolar. I even wound up abusing my own wife.
Looking back I was possessed. And that’s the truth of it. I was possessed by my own ego. But I am an adult male and I have to take responsibility for the bed I made.
I collected up many sets of the Zohar which The Kabbalah Centre had disseminated to the world. These Zohars found their way to the garbage at my will; sets of Tefillin (Phylacteries) which were produced by The Kabbalah Centre were put to the fire under my direction. My sudden outrage and hate toward The Kabbalah Centre was entirely inexplicable; I spread the negative word to many bookstores and to Federal and Municipal agencies. When WABC television in the U.S. was intending to do an expose on The Kabbalah Centre, representatives of the network contacted me and I spent considerable time providing them with negative information. The same held true of my discussions with the Wall Street Journal.
I contacted the Federal tax authorities in the U.S. and in Canada in order to bring forth government auditing of the Kabbalah Centre organizational offices.
About a year following my 1994 departure from The Kabbalah Centre, my life began a deep plunge; in retrospect I now see that such was the result of my own hate and all-consuming war against The Centre: since that time I have divorced the woman whom I had been with for 40 years and have been forced to declare bankruptcy as my family business settled and ended; my family is entirely distanced from me and as a wealthy man I lost all of my assets.
I have found that no organization has prayer services that are as beautifully and powerfully done as The Centre; Love abounds at The Kabbalah Centre, a fact which I had overlooked as I took war to The Centre .
You should know that all the criticisms do not come from authoritative sources. I saw that first hand. I turned around my life when I saw how fanatical these Rabbis were. They are simply jealous. The Rabbis are even jealous of one another. Rav Berg managed to do what no one else could do — he united the Rabbis by their opposition to Kabbalah.
People are unfortunately influenced, as I was, by the Rabbis that say the Centre is a cult.
I have since contacted Karen and apologized, sorry for what I had done.
Remembering the love and joy shared by The Kabbalah Centre teachers and students prompts me to once again study at The Kabbalah Centre after 17 tumultuous years since my departure.
I miss it in my life ….. I miss the teachers and students as well as Rav Berg, Karen Berg, Michael Berg and Yehuda Berg.
Through the years since I was actively involved in The Kabbalah Centre (until late 1994) , and thereafter, my best friend at the organzation was, and continues to be, Rabbi Yehuda Berg ; we simply had a close, loving relationship, quite naturally . After I departed my involvement in the organization, Yehuda was always there to receive messages which I would disseminate globally ; those years saw me writing my views on various Torah topics , which writings are directed to hundreds of Torah influential persons around the world . When I began my attachment to Rebbe Nachman Of Breslov , after my years with The Kabbalah Centre, Yehuda would send me messages in this regard, including sending me a beautiful photograph of the gravesite of Rebbe Nachman’s principal disciple, Rav Noson Of Nemirov.
I have always sustained my love for Yehuda , the epitome of the love which The Kabbalah Centre seeks to pass-on to persons, Jew and Gentile alike, around the world.
The Rav (Yehuda’s father, Kabbalist Rav Berg) was always my Rav.
No matter what.
Even when I fell apart, I never stopped regarding Rav Berg as my Rav and teacher.
He was the one who brought me life, deep wisdom and brought me back to the truth of the Bible.
There is only one Rav like Rav Berg in a generation.
I am ashamed for what I have done.
May the hate for no reason evolve into love for no reason!
Shmuel (“Steve”) Glass
MY OWN COMMENT:
When I read Stephen’s letter I cried. I’ve known him since 1989. It pained me to see what he went through and it opened up my own eyes to the irrational opposition that a few people — opposition that I witnessed over the last 22 years and that I learned about over the last 2000 years.
I began studying Kabbalah in 1989 in Toronto. In 1994 I moved my wife and 4 children to Los Angeles. We had a very active Kabbalah Centre in Toronto. I volunteered as many hours as I could because I was passionate about this wisdom and in love with the mission—teaching wisdom as a way to creating a better life and a better world.
Unfortunately, at the time, I had no idea what creating a better world meant. I did not know that the only way to make a better world was to make a better me. It was a difficult lesson. Deeply painful. But only on my ego.The ego is a funny thing. Wars are never fought over land, territory, resources, money or power. Wars are fought because of the human ego. Period.
And make no mistake: men would rather die than suffer humiliation and subjugation of their ego. People will often commit suicide just to prevent pain on their ego. Don’t underestimate the power of the pain of an ego.
And therein lies the problem with Kabbalah as it is taught by the Kabbalah Centre.
The teachers from the lineage of the Kabbalah Centre expose the human ego. The whole purpose of the Bible was to help humanity transform the selfish, intolerant, narcissistic nature of oneself into the opposite — a being of sharing, tolerance and unconditional care for one’s neighbor. The same way the human ego incites wars between brothers, friends, businesses, religions and nations, it wages war against the wisdom that targets the ego in all of its crafty and clever disguises.
So in the end, if you want to cut to the heart of the matter, the real problem with the Kabbalah Centre is that it demands that we control our ego. Kabbalah demands that we transform it, repurpose our drive, our talent and redirect our ambition toward offering unconditional love, care, kindness and assistance to all of humanity, no matter the race, religion, political party, social or economic standing.
Contrary to popular belief we did not come into this world to make our dreams come true, despite what our ego tells us. We came to this world to support others and help make their dreams come true. And when we do that, six billion people help us achieve our dreams.This is a subtle insight into the meaning of life; an unorthodox nuance and dynamic that takes a lifetime to truly grasp and internalize.
Therein lies the purpose of the Kabbalah Centre: to teach me how to help you make your life a little better, nicer, sweeter because of my own existence. Not in a dramatic, heroic fashion. But in terms of simple human kindness, care and a little dedication.
Only the ego prevents that from happening.
Sooner or later, if you have the courage to walk the talk that the Kabbalah Centre teaches, you will be asked to peel back a layer of ego and expose your heart. Imagine, for a moment, being publicly accused or embarrassed. Difficult right? Well, this is the kind of sacrifice of the ego one endures when on a spiritual path. Not everyone has to reach that level. Only a true Kabbalist has the courage to get there.
As the great 13th century Kabbalist, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia stated:
“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 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.”
Being on a spiritual path means one is prepared to have “skin in the game.” At one point, the ego has to be provoked to the point of doubt. It’s not easy learning to love your neighbor unconditionally. It’s just not. Especially if that neighbor is not so nice.This path of transformation is what the Kabbalists teach. There are people who fanatically oppose the Kabbalah Centre and want to save the world from the Kabbalists. But we know if someone experiences genuine truth, along with it comes the realization that each person must find truth on their own.
So if someone tries to convince you, or preach to you, then it might mean they are not so sure of their truth. A person with truth doesn’t need to convince others. He allows each person the space and dignity to find the truth on their own.
There are all kinds of fanatics that claim they want to change the world. If you have wisdom, you no longer want to change the world. You understand that the best you can do is to change and become kinder, gentler, more tolerant. And if we each do, THAT is what changes the world.
So simple, so profound.