Monday, November 07, 2005

!@#$%^&*() Kabbalah

Little sister again.

Ever since I graduated from college in '03 and made the unconventional decision to devote myself to full-time Jewish text study for what was supposed to be one year but turned into three, I have had to answer people's totally infuriating questions about this choice. Some of the most annoying ones come from our parents' friends at our synagogue in Toronto, most of whom are psychiatrists. There's one guy in particular who always suggests- with bits of pickled herring flying out of his mouth- that maybe it would be a good idea for me to find a place to study that would give me a graduate degree at the end, which my program doesn't. And he always suggests it as though he thinks he's the first genius to think up that idea, as though it wasn't something I struggle with and feel guilty about on a daily basis.

But the absolute worst encounter I face with astonishing frequency goes something like this:
Little Sister: I go to a women's yeshiva.
Asshole: What do you learn there?
LS: Torah, Talmud and Jewish Law.
A (nearly exploding with excitement): You mean like kabbalah??!!

No, asshole. We don't study kabbalah. I mean, what my classmates do on their own time is their business, but it is not included in our curriculum. And even if we were to throw in some kabbalistic content, it would be authentic and would therefore bear zero resemblance to the crap Modonna spews.

I got particularly worked up over this last week, when the Today Show did a special on mysterious religions and devoted one morning to Kabbalah. In their little intro, Matt (who I usually have a big crush on) said something to the effect of "....kabbalah, which- would you believe??- has its roots in acient Jewish mysticism," and I was like, you asshole, Kabbalah IS ancient Jewish mysticism. It's like saying that Green Eggs and Ham has its roots Dr. Seuss' writings. Then they showed clips of Madonna and Roseanne explaining Kabbalah. Which could lead me to one of my other gripes: why we now turn to celebrities to offer information/insight on world events, like in that other classic Matt moment involving another adherent of a wacko non-religion.

Here is my Kabbalah-related outrage of the week. Maybe this will be an ongoing series on Haverchuk.

On the Kabbalah Center's website, there's a menu with the heading "History Makers," with the following drop-down list: "Adam, Avraham, Moses, Rabbi Shimon bar Yokhai, Moses De Leon, Rabbi Isaac Luria, Avraham Azulay, Rav Ashlag, Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein, Rav Berg, Karen Berg." Rav Berg and Karen Berg founded the Kabbalah Center. I don't know how big a role the notion of modesty plays in Kabbalistic thought, but authentic Kabbalah is deeply entrenched in Jewish values, and humility is one of the most important ones. An earlier figure on their list of history makers, Moses, is celebrated as having been the most humble of all men. It seems that quality didn't make its way down to the tenth and eleventh people on the list. Another fundamental Jewish concept is that we owe our teachers great respect, particularly the ones from centuries ago. The fact that the Bergs included themselves on a list of rabbinic leaders, not to mention biblical forefathers, is an act of unbelievable arrogance.

I'm going to go scan the letters of God's divine names which are too holy to utter and contemplate how to mend some broken vessels in preparation for the Messiah's arrival.


Blogger femme feral said...

little sister, you are funny.

so I'm guessing you're not a fan of kabbalah water, or those plastic bracelets with a red thread inside? If you haven't seen it yet, then I suggest that take any means necessary to steer clear of Madonna's "I will tell you a secret." That shit is nuts.

8:31 PM  

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