My "spiritual cream" is free!
December 18, 2003 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Kabbalah is the new Scientology "The Rav" - Born Feivel Gruberger in Brooklyn, was an insurance salesman before leaving his first wife and children to reinvent himself as a modern spiritual guru. He runs the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre. When Berg blesses ordinary spring water, it apparently becomes "infused with kabbalistic meditation . . . for healing, well-being and rejuvenation" - qualities that are neatly marketed in his exclusive make-up range, which includes a "restoring night cream" at £80 and a £91 eye-cream.
posted by suprfli (13 comments total)
God wants you to look your best for heaven.

posted by timyang at 8:24 PM on December 18, 2003

Interesting article. I wonder, for comparison does anyone have any links to articles on "real" Kabbalah?
posted by unreason at 8:40 PM on December 18, 2003

Real Kabbalah isn't sold, from what i understand, and it's not for everyone (and has limited-to-none everyday living-your-life value). I don't know how accurate this is, but it reads like what i've always been told about it.
posted by amberglow at 8:45 PM on December 18, 2003

Real Kabbalah is predicated on a knowledge of Torah. This guy sounds like a loon to me. As does that Jesus guy. Whatever.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:00 PM on December 18, 2003

Here are some texts on the Kabbalah, and here are some handy instructions on how to create a golem.
posted by homunculus at 9:00 PM on December 18, 2003

L. Ron was a kabbalist before he invented scientology. I would provide a link but im lazy.
Look up his connection with Crowley for more information.
posted by klik99 at 9:29 PM on December 18, 2003

Western esotericism has been pinching material from the Kabbalah since at least the Renaissance, in the Hermetic Corpus and elsewhere. I believe the Golden Dawn and Theosophical Society people were interested in Kabbalah, and there are Kabbalistic allusions in the imagery of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. A more recent example: the occult author Gareth Knight gave us his Practical Guide To Qabalistic Symbolism in 1965.

So, this stuff has been percolating in the culture for a long time, as a mystical system outside the context of the Jewish faith. It is indeed amusing to see this new celebrity craze for it! Perhaps we could also call it the new Tibetan Buddhism?*

If I want to follow this guy, I wonder if I need bother converting to Judaism, or can I just send in my check?

*No disparagement of actual Tibetans or sincere practitioners is intended!
posted by crunchburger at 10:02 PM on December 18, 2003

Way back when I was really interested in this kind of stuff, Colin Low's "Notes on the Kabbalah" was the best thing I'd ever read on the topic, online or off. Definitely worth a read, even if you have only a passing interest.
posted by majcher at 10:10 PM on December 18, 2003

I had a dream a couple of nights ago which featured the word 'gematria' quite prominently, but as far as I recall had nothing to do with numerology.

I think I ought to become a guru too. Does Feivel have a newsletter? Regardless, he oughta hook up with this guy. Goofballs.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:47 AM on December 19, 2003

My personal crackpot theory is that things like this partly stem from the overwhelming religious bent in the US. It's a fairly mainstream idea there that if you don't believe in some kind of religion, you must be spiritually impoverished, and so people who don't find themselves in traditional religion are often attracted to pseudo-religious cults. The lack of a developed culture of atheism leads people to prepackaged spirituality, rather than facing the hard work of developing a personal philosophy and ethics.
posted by fuzz at 2:49 AM on December 19, 2003

fuzz, don't forget the love of all things quick and easy, which means that if you can offer up enlightenment in a few steps rather than years of intense work, you'll be the hippest thing. See The Celestine Prophecy as an example.

I have to say, though, that the application of kabbalah to beauty products is nothing new. In 1999, I picked up a bottle of Goddess "color therapy nail potion" in Shekhinah. I don't know if it "awakens your Goddess within, your feminine power" or "enhances feminine intuition, nurturing energy," but I do know that, since I was finishing up my religion degree with a course on the kabbalah, my professor and I were terribly terribly amused.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:49 AM on December 19, 2003

Making money through religion is nothing new however I would not classify the Kabbalah in the same realm of the cult of Co$.
posted by bkdelong at 5:35 AM on December 19, 2003

Kabbalah was originally supposed to be for men over 40 who had already mastered the Torah. It was supposed to be (literally) dangerous for anyone less advanced. While I'm sure that's all a bunch of silliness, surely what Madonna et al are doing has little resemblance to the original.
posted by callmejay at 9:59 AM on December 19, 2003

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