While Kabbalah’s roots are in Judaism, today it is considered a cross-denominational discipline that seeks to understand the will of God and the nature of the universe by studying and interpreting the Hebrew Bible. While often called Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah isn’t based on the answers learned during the visions or mystical experiences of a sage, the truths and answers to the mysteries of the universe are all found in the Torah, in hidden meanings.
The Kabbalah Centre International offers classes and guidance in Kabbalah to both men and women, regardless of whether they have ever studied the Torah before. Jews and non-Jews are welcome at the Centre’s Los Angeles headquarters in Los Angeles’ orthodox Jewish community and at branches throughout the world. For people who want to learn more about Kabbalah, but don’t live near the Kabbalah Centre headquarters or one of the branches in the U.S, South America, Israel or Europe, there are online classes and live lectures.
In 1971, Philip and Karen Berg started the first Kabbalah Centre in New York City. Philip grew up in a devoutly religious family and he was ordained a rabbi in 1951, however, he wasn’t introduced to Kabbalah until he took a trip to Israel in the 1960’s. In a book Karen wrote, she admits that she pushed her husband to open Kabbalah’s valuable teachings to all. This angered traditionalists who believed that only a few elite scholars should study Kabbalah, however, the Bergs ended up not only bringing Kabbalah to the masses; they procured the writings of Rav Ashlag and Rav Brandwein and put them online, in their original form, for academic scholars of Kabbalah to study.
Kabbalah teachings say that God told Moses the secrets hidden in the first books of the Bible, knowledge that was passed down orally until the books of Zohar were written in the 13th century. In interviews before his death, Philip Berg insisted that everything taught at the Kabbalah Center is contained in Zohar and he wants to spread its teachings to as many people as possible.