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THE NEW AGE OF KABBALAH Online Publication Date: 01 July 2007 To cite this Article: Huss, Boaz , (2007) 'THE NEW AGE OF KABBALAH', Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 6:2, 107 - 125 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/14725880701423014 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725880701423014

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Boaz Huss

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THE NEW AGE OF KABBALAH Contemporary Kabbalah, the New Age and postmodern spirituality bhuss@bgu.ac.il Journal 10.1080/14725880701423014 CMJS_A_242185.sgm 1472-5886 Original Taylor 6202007 Dr 000002007 BoazHuss and & ofArticle Francis Modern (print)/1472-5894 Francis Jewish Ltd Studies (online)

In recent years, a remarkable revival of interest in Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism has taken place in Israel, the United States and other, mostly Western, countries. This revival, which includes a resurgence of kabbalistic and hasidic doctrines and practices and an integration of kabbalistic themes in various cultural fields, coincides with the emergence of the New Age and other related spiritual and new religious movements in the Western world in the last decades of the twentieth century. New Age themes appear in various contemporary kabbalistic and Neo-hasidic movements, and there are significant similarities between these movements, the New Age and other recent spiritual and religious revival movements. This article will examine the contemporary revival of Kabbalah and investigate the relationship between contemporary Kabbalah and New Age phenomena. It will demonstrate that central characteristics of the new spiritual culture appear not only in contemporary Kabbalah and Neohasidic groups that explicitly use New Age themes, but also among kabbalistic and hasidic movements that are perceived as presenting more traditional forms of Jewish mysticism. The shared characteristic of contemporary Kabbalah and New Age, it will be argued, are not dependent only on the direct impact of the New Age movements on contemporary Kabbalah, but rather on the postmodern context and nature of both these phenomena. The emergence and constructions of contemporary Kabbalah, the New Age and other related new spiritual movements, which can be described as “postmodern spiritualities”, is dependent on the global economic and social changes in the late twentieth century. This article will claim that these new cultural formations reflect the cultural logic of late global capitalism and respond to the new social conditions in the postmodern era.

The emergence of contemporary forms of Kabbalah Since the early thirteenth century various cultural formations—texts, oral traditions and ritual practices—were produced, transmitted and perceived as belonging to an ancient, sacred, body of theoretical and practical knowledge called “Kabbalah”. Kabbalah gained considerable symbolic power in Jewish communities, first in Spain, and later in other Jewish centres around the world, and became universally accepted as sacred and authoritative in the eighteenth century. Yet, since the late eighteenth century, Kabbalah and the traditional Jewish circles that adhered to it—mostly the East European hasidic movement that emerged at the same period—were vehemently criticised by some of the central figures of the Haskalah and its successors in the nineteenth century. Within the framework of building a modern, Western, Jewish identity, the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies Vol 6, No. 2 July 2007, pp. 107–125 ISSN 1472-5886 print/ISSN 1472-5894 online © 2007 Taylor & Francis http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/14725880701423014


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maskilim rejected Kabbalah and Hasidism, portraying them as backward, irrational and Oriental traditions that impede the integration and acculturation of the Jews to modern European society. Under the impact of the “enlightened” perspective, which became more influential in Jewish cultures of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Kabbalah lost its predominant statues in many (mostly Westernised) Jewish communities (Huss, “‘Admiration’”, 205–212). In the same period in which Kabbalah lost its positive cultural value in Jewish enlightened circles (but retained it in traditional circles), its symbolic value increased among non-Jewish Romantic and Western esoteric circles, which, in the context of a Romantic and Orientalist fascination with mysticism and Eastern religions, discovered an interest in both Christian and Jewish Kabbalah. Following the growing interest in Kabbalah in non-Jewish European culture, and within the framework of emerging Jewish nationalism, some Jewish intellectuals in both Western and Eastern Europe (such as Martin Buber, Micha Yosef Berdyczewsky, Shmuel Aba Horodedsky and many others) expressed a renewed interest in Kabbalah and Hasidism. These scholars, who identified Kabbalah and Hasidism as Jewish forms of mysticism, affirmed their philosophical, literary and especially, historical value, but usually did not embrace kabbalistic practices and articles of faith. Presenting a typical modernist perspective, and an Orientalist ambivalence, they found significance and value in Kabbalah and Hasidism as historical phenomena, but showed no interest in them as living culture traditions. This stance was adopted by Gershom Scholem, who settled in Jerusalem in 1923 and established the study of Kabbalah as an academic field at the Hebrew University. Scholem, who affirmed the historical value of Jewish mysticism and regarded Kabbalah as the expression of Jewish national vitality in the diaspora, believed that traditional forms of Kabbalah lost their historical relevance in the modern period (Huss, “‘Admiration’”, 212–237). In the same period in which Scholem began his historical research into Kabbalah, it was still practised in traditional circles, especially in Jerusalem, which became a centre of kabbalistic activity (Meir 595–602). In the early twentieth century, some important kabbalists arrived there, including Yehuda Fataya from Bagdad, Shaul ha-Cohen Dweck from Haleb (Aleppo), Shlomo Eliashov from Lithuania and Yehuda Ashlag from Poland. Similarly, Abraham Yizchak Kook, who became the first chief Rabbi of Eretz Israel, integrated many mystical and kabbalistic themes in his writings. These kabbalists, as well as others who were active in this period, both in Jerusalem and elsewhere, engaged in Kabbalah according to the main systems developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—the Kabbalah of Shalom Shara‘bi, various hasidic trends and the Lithuanian Kabbalah. Apart from the study of canonical kabbalistic texts (mostly the Zohar and the Lurianic corpus) and the practice of meditative prayer (kavanot), some early twentiethcentury kabbalists developed innovative doctrines that combined kabbalistic themes and modernist principals. The most influential doctrines were created by Abraham Yitzhak Kook, who integrated kabbalistic ideas within a national Zionist ideology, and Yehuda Ashlag, who integrated communist principles in his interpretation of the Lurianic Kabbalah. Although various forms of Kabbalah were still practised, created and revered in traditional Jewish communities in the twentieth century, and notwithstanding the interest in Kabbalah and Hasidism in Jewish Zionist circles, Kabbalah occupied a peripheral place in modern Jewish and Israeli cultures during most of the twentieth century, especially after the Second World War and the foundation of the State of Israel. Israeli


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hegemonic culture, which aspired to establish a predominantly socialist, secular and Western society, as well as the dominant Jewish movements in the United States, which strove to integrate in American Western culture, did not find much interest in kabbalistic and hasidic traditions, and marginalised the traditional circles—haredi and mizrahi communities—in which Kabbalah was still revered and practised (Huss, “Ask No Questions”, 147). Although the academic study of Kabbalah established by Scholem was highly esteemed, it was limited to philological-historical research practised by a small circle of scholars. Beginning in the 1970s, a renewed interest in Kabbalah and Hasidism took place in Israeli society, as well as in Jewish communities in the United States and, to a certain degree, in Western culture in general. During the 1970s and 1980s, and especially from the 1990s onward, traditional kabbalistic yeshivot and hasidic movements became more active and new Kabbalah and Neo-hasidic institutes, synagogues and study groups were established, mostly in Israel and in the United States. In the last three decades, thousands of people have been studying and practising various forms of Kabbalah, hundreds of books about Kabbalah have been published and numerous Kabbalah-related webpages can be found on the Internet. In these contexts, canonical kabbalistic and hasidic texts are re-printed, translated and interpreted, and various kabbalistic rituals and practices such as ritual Zohar readings, meditations, amulets, healing, exorcism, visitations of the tombs of saints and so on, are performed, revived and re-invented. In contradistinction to earlier decades in the twentieth century in which Kabbalah was practised mostly in marginalised hasidic and mizrahi communities, producers and consumers of contemporary Kabbalah are found in all segments of Israeli Jewish society, in all the major Jewish denominations abroad and among various non-Jewish circles around the globe. While most contemporary kabbalists and kabbalistic movements operate in a Jewish framework, some also cater to a non-Jewish public, and some (such as those related to the Order of the Golden Dawn) are manifestly not Jewish. Many of the contemporary forms of Kabbalah emerged from, or are related to, earlier forms. Several contemporary kabbalists (such as Benayahu Shmueli of Yeshivat nehar shalom, David Basri of Yeshivat hashalom and Yaakov Moshe Hillel of Yeshivat ahavat shalom) continue the traditions of the early twentieth-century yeshivot of Jerusalem in which Kabbalah was practiced mostly according to the system of the eighteenth century Yemenite kabbalist Shalom Sharabi (Hareshash). The most famous contemporary kabbalist who belonged to these circles was Yitzhak Kaduri, nicknamed “the eldest kabbalist” (Zekan hamekubalim), who died recently, aged over a hundred. Kaduri, who was a marginal figure in the kabbalistic circles in Jerusalem during most of his life, from the late 1980s became a highly popular figure who exercised considerable political influence in Israel until his demise in 2006. Other present-day forms of Kabbalah are related to North African kabbalistic and saint veneration traditions. Prominent (and competing) kabbalists of North African descent are the sons and relatives of Rabbi Israel Abu Haziera (Hababa sali), who resided in Netivot after his immigration, and the upcoming young kabbalist Israel Yakov Ifargan, also from Netivot, who is know as “the X-ray” (Harentgen), because of his prognostic and healing powers. Many present-day kabbalistic movements emerged out of, or are related to hasidic traditions, mostly to the Habad and Breslov movements that are active in the present kabbalistic and hasidic revival. Yitzhak Ginsburgh, one of the leading kabbalists in Israel,

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is a habad hasid, and the two founding figures of the American Jewish Renewal movement, Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, were formerly habad emissaries. Other contemporary kabbalistic movements are related to the school of Yehuda Ashlag. Philip Berg, a student of Ashlag’s principal disciple, Zvi Yehuda Brandwein, founded the largest contemporary kabbalistic movement, the Kabbalah Center, in the 1970s. Another rapidly growing movement based on Ashlagian Kabbalah is Bnei Baruch, which was founded in the 1990s by Michael Laitman, who studied with Ashlag’s eldest son, Rabbi Baruch. Many other contemporary Kabbalah groups are related to Ashlag, including Mordechai Scheinberger (a student of Brandwein) and his followers in Or haganuz, a communal kabbalist village in the upper Galilee. Other new Kabbalah formations are derived from the mystical doctrines of Abraham Yitzhak Kook, with interest in Kabbalah and Hasidism growing in recent years among his National Religious followers in Israel. Other sources of contemporary Kabbalah are Christian kabbalistic traditions, particularly the Western esoteric and occult kabbalistic groups of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While the influence of these traditions is prominent especially among non-Jewish contemporary kabbalistic movements, they also exercise some (direct or indirect) influence on movements that operate mostly in a Jewish context. Apart from these various kabbalistic traditions, one of the major sources of contemporary Kabbalah is the modern academic discipline of Jewish mysticism. Many contemporary kabbalists derive their knowledge of kabbalistic doctrines and practices from the work of scholars, and they adopt some of the major perceptions about the history and significance of Kabbalah from the academia. The reliance on academic scholarship is especially prominent in the American Jewish Renewal movements, some of whose activists are scholars of Kabbalah and Jewish studies. The impact of Kabbalah scholarship can also be discerned in many other contemporary kabbalistic movements. The reliance on themes and practices derived from the writings of the thirteenth century kabbalist Abraham Abulafia, for instance, that can be discerned in many contemporary kabbalistic groups (Garb, The Chosen, 218–219) is dependent to a large degree on the work of scholars who called attention to Abulafia’s Kabbalah, which had been rejected by most traditional kabbalists until recently. Although many contemporary groups are related to earlier kabbalistic and hasidic schools, and emerged from the ethnic and ideological communities in which Kabbalah was practiced in earlier decades of the twentieth century, it is difficult to classify contemporary Kabbalah according to clear-cut national, ethnic, social or ideological parameters. Most contemporary kabbalistic groups are hybrid in their social composition, and include members from various ethnic, social and economic backgrounds (Garb, The Chosen, 191–192). Many members, as well as some of the prominent leaders of contemporary kabbalistic and hasidic movements, come from non-religious backgrounds or from communities in which Kabbalah was not practised. The hybrid and eclectic nature of contemporary kabbalistic movements is expressed not only in their heterogeneous social composition, but also in their doctrines and practices. Most contemporary kabbalists incorporate themes that are derived from diverse kabbalistic and hasidic traditions, as well as from the scholarly writings. Many contemporary kabbalistic movements combine in their cultural productions themes and practices derived from other religious traditions, popular culture and scientific sources (Huss, “All You Need”, 620; Garb, The Chosen, 148–149). Despite the eclectic and


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hybrid nature of the New Kabbalah, there are some themes that are common to many of its manifestations. While some of these themes (such as the notion of the sefirot, the sanctity of the Zohar and so on) are dependent on the common sources of contemporary Kabbalah, other common themes are derived from, or related to, contemporary New Age culture.

New Age characteristics of contemporary Kabbalah The connections and resemblance between New Age movements and some contemporary kabbalistic movements have been observed by the media (usually in condemnatory terms), as well as by scholars (Myers, “New Age Religion”; Dan 48; Garb, The Chosen, 185–212), some of whom regard the New Age nature of contemporary Kabbalah in critical and disparaging terms (Dan 285). While accepting that there are significant similarities between contemporary Kabbalah and the New Age, I will avoid analysing these relationships in judgmental (neither disparaging nor laudatory) terms. As Fredric Jameson (46–47) observed, conceptualising historical phenomena in terms of moral or moralising judgments is a category mistake. Instead of criticising the New Age characteristics of contemporary Kabbalah, I will attempt to analyse the historical underpinning and cultural significance of these characteristics. It should be emphasised that the New Age (as with contemporary Kabbalah) is not a unified movement, but rather a segmented network of groups, without central authority or leadership or a set of common teachings (Arweck 266; Lyon 118). Furthermore, some of the major characteristics of the New Age also appear in contemporary forms of institutionalised religion, as well as in many New Religious Movements (Arweck 265), and even, as Catherine L. Albanese (348–350) has demonstrated, in fundamentalist groups. As Paul Heelas (New Age Movement, 361) has suggested, the New Age is the most visible expression of a wider spiritual revolution that thrives both outside, as well as within, institutionalised religions in advanced industrial-commercial societies. Scholars of the New Age and contemporary religious movements have enumerated several characteristic themes that recur in New Age movements, as well as in some other contemporary religious and spiritual formations. Many of these themes, such as the anticipation of a spiritual cosmic transformation, the use of meditative and healing techniques to achieve such a transformation, psychological renderings of religious notions and the sanctification of the self, as well as the belief in the compatibility of spirituality and science, recur in many contemporary kabbalistic and hasidic formations. Such themes appear not only among neo-hasidic and neo-kabbalistic groups and individuals who adopt explicitly New Age doctrines and practices, but also among orthodox kabbalistic and hasidic groups who are regarded as presenting more traditional forms of Kabbalah. One of the major characteristics of the New Age movement is the expectation or experience of a profound transformation, which is perceived as the dawning of a New Age, identified frequently as the “Age of Aquarius” (Hanegraaff, New Age Religion, 331–361). As Gordon Melton observed: The New Age movement can be defined by its primal experience of transformation. New Agers have either experienced or are diligently seeking a profound personal

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transformation from an old, unacceptable life to a new, exciting future. (Melton et al. xiii) The expectation of a New Age of profound spiritual transformation and the dawning of a new form of consciousness recurs in many contemporary kabbalistic movements, some of which identify the New Age with traditional Jewish and kabbalistic messianic ideas. From his very first writings in the 1970s, Philip Berg, the founder of the Kabbalah Center, offered a New Age interpretation of the kabbalistic ideas of Yehuda Ashlag (Myers, “New Age Religion”). In his recent introduction to the Kabbalah Center’s English translation of the Zohar, Berg states that the spiritual transformation of the Age of Aquarius is related to the dissemination of the Zohar by the Kabbalah Center. In terms that are typical of what Hanegraaff (New Age Religion, 341–344) described as the radical “Age of Light” perception of the “New Age”, he declares: Today, we are witnessing the beginning of a new age of revelation. Today, more than at any other time in history, the Lightforce is demanding to be revealed. This is the secret of the Age of Aquarius… The awesome power of the Lightforce to which we are connected by the Zohar, is the ultimate connection. During the Age of Aquarius, humankind can again connect with the Lightforce. Through this connection we can achieve an altered state of consciousness in which we, the past and the future are here now, where our youth is again upon us, where we will benefit from the Fountain of Youth, where death has been terminated. (Berg, The Zohar, vol. 1, lxi–lxvii). The sense of transformation into a new era is prevalent in the American Jewish Renewal movement and affiliated groups who present, quite consciously, a form of “New Age Judaism”. The notion of a “paradigm shift” (a term borrowed from Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) to a new pantheistic age in which the Divine is discovered in the person, is central to the neo-kabbalistic theology of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the father figure of Jewish Renewal (Magid 40). This is based on the prevalent idea in New Age sources, which were described by Hanegraaff (New Age Religion, 117) as representing the “new paradigm variety” of the New Age movement. 1 Schachter-Shalomi (Paradigm Shift, 22) calls for an integration of holistic New Age psychology in Judaism: “Beside the challenge of past history we also face the challenge of the present New Age… I maintain that Judaism without holistic Aquarian psychology will be farther from the divine intent than Aquarian psychology alone”. Similarly, Leonora Leet, a professor of English literature who became a practicing neo-kabbalist under the influence of Aryeh Kaplan, asserts: “[W]e are now in a new age of Judaism, and in these changed circumstances it behooves us to seek the new forms of Jewish observance that will enable a transformed Judaism to survive and flourish in the remaining two thousands years of the Aquarian Age” (Leet, Renewing the Covenant, 21). Melinda Ribner, a student of Shlomo Carlebach expresses similar notions in her New Age Judaism: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World. The notion that we are at the beginning of an age of radical transformation of consciousness is also central to the doctrines of Michael Laitman, the leader of Bnei Baruch, who, similar to Berg, offers a New Age type of interpretation to the Kabbalah of Yehuda Ashlag. Laitman, who does not use explicit New Age terms such as “the Age


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of Aquarius”, declares that a “conscious ascent of the souls” began at the end of the twentieth century: Have a look once more at the curve of the redemption. Mankind has been advancing unconsciously toward the goal of creation for thousands of years. Since the end of the 20th century, the conscious ascent of the souls began—exactly as it was foretold in the book of the “Zohar” and in the writings of all the greatest kabbalists such as the Ari, the Gaon of Vilna and Ba’al hasulam. We are the first generation obliged to begin the conscious process of correction. (Laitman, “Interview”, 203)2 This expectation of a new transformative age of is also central to the teaching of Yitzhak Ginsburgh, who integrates traditional kabbalistic and hasidic themes, the messianism of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe and an active, right-wing political ideology (Harari 167–174, 201–236). Ginsburgh’s emphasis on redemption as dependent on the transformation of human consciousness (Harari 228–230) reflects a common New Age perception: Thus far we have explained that diaspora (golah) is transformed into Redemption (ge’ulah) by the addition of the letter aleph, from above downwards. This signifies that Divinity descends in order to enter our consciousness and that such a transformation of consciousness brings forth the correction of the world (tikkun ha’olam). (Ginsburgh, Muda‘ut tiv‘it, 152) The sense that we live on the threshold of new spiritual era is also reflected in the notion that the teaching of Kabbalah and the Zohar are permissible today, in contradistinction to former times. This perception is central not only in the activities of Jewish Renewal, the Kabbalah Center and Bnei Baruch, but also in the activities of traditional orthodox kabbalistic groups such as the followers of the ultra-Orthodox kabbalist Daniel Frish and the kabbalists of Yeshivat nehar shalom, headed by Benayahu Shmueli, who are actively engaged in disseminating the Zohar. The New Age perception of the expected cosmic transformation as entailing primarily a transformation of human consciousness is related to the idea, which, according to Hanegraaff (New Age Religion, 229) is “one of the most central concerns of the New Age: the belief that we create our own reality”. The belief in the power of consciousness to shape reality is central to teaching of the Kabbalah Center. Thus, Berg declares in his introduction to The Zohar: Kabbalists have always engaged in what has come to be called the power of mind over matter. They suggest that more than being a participator in the scheme of things, man, utilizing the power of thought, can act as a determinator of both physical and metaphysical activity. (vol. 1, xli) A similar idea is expressed by Michael Laitman, the leader of Bnei Baruch: We are chosen in that our souls have the powers of thought and desire which, if used correctly, can induce an immediate change in reality. The collective power of our

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thought, which will change to appreciate spirituality instead of corporeality, will change the entire reality in our favour. (Laitman, “Interview”, 72) A related idea is expressed by Schachter-Shalomi who, in Wrapped in Holy Flame: Teaching and Tales of the Hasidic Master, writes (through the voice of the Baal Shem Tov): I am the Baal Shem Tov and I am about to interpret Torah. What am I trying to do by interpretation? I am trying to modify reality… How we interpret something will make a difference in reality. It is almost as if to say that this interpretation that I am going to give determines how the world will come out. (40) The recent prominence of Israeli kabbalists (such as Rabbi Kaduri, Harentgen and many others) who are believed to possess supernatural powers that enable them to predict the future, diagnose spiritual and health problems and offer potent blessings, can be seen also as related to the New Age perception of the power of the mind to influence physical reality, and its prevalent belief in psychic powers (Lewis 7). As George Melton observed above, the expected, or experienced, transformation in New Age spirituality is primarily a personal transformation (Melton et al. xiii). New Age expectations and experience of personal transformation, the perception of the mind’s control over body and the belief in psychic powers are all related to the spirituality of the New Age, which is centred in psychology. As Wouter Hanegraaff (New Age Religion, 224) observed, New Age offers a “psychologization of religion and sacralization of psychology”. This feature is considered by Paul Heelas (“Spiritual Revolution”, 19) as the defining characteristic of the New Age, which he aptly names “self-spirituality”. The sacredness of the self is central not only to New Age movements, but also to many other contemporary American and Western religious movements. According to Wade Clark Roof (57): “[T]he turning inward in search of meaning and strength… is happening with people both inside and outside the churches, synagogues and temples”. Self-spirituality is central to many contemporary kabbalistic and neo-hasidic movements. Jonathan Garb observed the centrality of psychological discourse in twentieth-century Kabbalah and the New Age, and the attempts to reconcile psychological theories with kabbalistic and hasidic doctrines by the Israeli scholars Micha Ankori and Mordechai Rotenberg, the American neo-hasidic thinker Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and the English kabbalist Ze’v ben Shimon Halevi (Garb, The Chosen, 205–206; see also Hellerstein 69–72; Magid 47). Similarly, Chava Weissler noted in her lectures on Jewish Renewal that self-spirituality is central to the Jewish Renewal movement: “[T]he self/soul and spirituality are deeply intertwined in Renewal; for some, spirituality is ‘psychologised’; for others, psychology, in the form of ‘transpersonal psychology’ is spiritualised”.3 Self-spirituality, a psychologisation of Kabbalah, and a “kabbalisation” of psychology has been expressed in many titles published by authors of different kabbalistic orientations in the last two decades. 4 Wouter Hanegraaff described New Age as “the healing and personal growth movement” (New Age Religions, 42–61). According to Hanegraaff: “[T]he proliferation of what may loosely be called ‘alternative therapies’ undoubtedly represents one of the most visible aspects of the New Age Movement” (New Age Religions, 42). Similarly, Catherine L. Albanese (75) suggests that “the discourse and related action promoted by the New Age have emerged as a new healing religion”. Spiritual techniques, healing, alternative


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therapies and meditation—the most prevalent contemporary spiritual technique—are also central in the various forms of contemporary Kabbalah. Meditation is probably the most widespread kabbalistic practice today. Some forms of meditation are based on earlier kabbalistic techniques (many of them drawn from the writings of the thirteenthcentury kabbalist Abraham Abulafia), while others offer new techniques that integrate non-Jewish spiritual practices with Jewish and kabbalistic themes (Ophir 408–418). Many of the present forms of kabbalistic meditation, especially those practiced in the United States, are based on the influential books of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. As Weissler observed in her lectures on Jewish Renewal, meditation is central to the practices of the Renewal movement: “Renewal Jews seek this experience of the divine chiefly through two time-honored paths, found among mystics of all traditions: contemplative meditation and ecstatic worship”. Kabbalistic meditation is discussed and prescribed in numerous books written by Jewish Renewal and neo-Kabbalah authors in the United States, such as, for instance, Fisdel (The Practice of Kabbalah) and Ribner (Everyday Kabbalah). Arthur Green, a Kabbalah scholar and neo-hasidic theologian, advises the readers of his Eheyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow: [T]o pause for a period of meditation, a time to absorb this teaching in an experiential way. Laying out the path of sefirot in sequence bears the danger of just imparting information, and that is precisely what the sefirot are not. We are talking here about inner stages of the mind’s reality that should correspond to something within our own experience. Let us try then, to appreciate this language in the form of guided meditation. (45) Meditation is also central to the teaching and practices of the Kabbalah Center (Berg Using the Wisdom, 211–225) and online meditation can be practised on their website (Kabbalah Center, Meditation). Kabbalah meditation is practiced in Or haganuz, the communal village based on Ashlag’s teaching, and guided video meditation can be found on their website (Or Haganuz, Movies). Similarly, meditation is prescribed by Yitzhak Ginsburgh in Living in Divine Space, Kabbalah and Meditation and Kabbalah and Meditation for the Nations, and can be practised, following his audio instruction, on his website (Inner Dimension, Meditation). Contemporary kabbalists adopt other New Age spiritual techniques and healing practices. The members of Or haganuz operate a college for alternative medicine, Elima, in which they offer courses in Chinese medicine, reflexology, Shiatsu, Chi Kong and Bach flower remedies (Elima). Although Yitzhak Ginsburgh rejects New Age practices such as yoga, Reiki and Tai Chi (Inner Dimension, Responsa), his interest in healing is highlighted in his Body, Mind, Soul: Kabbalah on Human Physiology, Disease and Healing, as well as in discussion of The Healing of Body and Soul on his website (Inner Dimension, Healing). The growing interest in Practical Kabbalah, the proliferation of kabbalistic practices aimed at attaining personal wellbeing, and the popularity of kabbalists with prognostic and healing powers in Israel, are New kabbalistic equivalents of the interest in healing and personal growth in New Age movements. Although the amulets of Yitzhak Kaduri or the Tikkun ceremonies of Yakov Ifargan (Harentgen) may seem distant from typical New Age practices, some of their consumers recognise the similarities between them. Zvi Alush, an Israeli journalist who recently published a hagiography of Ifargan,

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described his supernatural powers as “alternative medicine” (Alush 156), and compared a house-cleansing ritual he performed to Feng Shui: One day, the Rabbi [Ifargan] visited the house of a well know attorney and his wife in the South [the Negev]. The couple asked him to bless their new home and expel from it the “evil eye”—which is known today in Feng Shui as “negative energies”. The women related: “The Rabbi walked over the rooms and scanned them closely. It was as if he ‘gathered’ negative energies from the walls and cleansed the house from them”. (12) The last shared characteristic of New Age and Contemporary Kabbalah I wish to examine before turning to investigate the postmodern context and nature of these cultural constructs is the interest in science and the claim that spirituality and modern science are compatible (a claim that is derivative of the New Age holistic belief in the monism of mind and matter). Hanegraaff (New Age Religions, 62) observes that “one of the notable characteristics of New Age thinking is its high regard for modern science”. Proponents of the New Age tend to use modern scientific vocabulary and integrate scientific themes in their teaching (Heelas, “New Age”, 5). A central motif of the New Age is the belief in the compatibility of modern science and spirituality, and “a desire to reconcile religious and scientific worldviews in a higher synthesis that enhances the human condition both spiritually and materially” (Lucas 192). The compatibility of science and Kabbalah, which was declared by kabbalists in the early twentieth century, especially in the writings of Yehuda Ashlag, is a prevalent theme in contemporary Kabbalah (Garb, The Chosen, 196). The desire to reconcile kabbalistic and scientific worldviews is central to the teaching of the Kabbalah Center and Bnei Baruch, who follow Ashlag. As Jody Myers (“Concepts”) has observed: “Kabbalah Center literature, audio tapes, and lectures are interspersed with references to the history of science and scientific metaphors”. Scientific themes are especially prominent in the writings of the leader of Bnei Baruch, Michael Laitman, whose Kabbalah, Science and the Meaning of Life contains a section entitled “Quantum Physics meets Kabbalah” (15–83). Interest in modern science and the claim of its compatibility with Kabbalah also appear in other contemporary Kabbalah formations. 5 Thus, for instance, Yitzhak Ginsburgh begins his article, “Kabbalah and String Theory”, by stating: One of the most recent theories in physics—able, in theory, to unify the four known forces of nature (and thereby achieve a “unified field theory”) but as of yet unable to be validated by experiment—is “string theory”. Its basic concepts and images bring to mind most evident correlations to the teachings of traditional Jewish Kabbalah. (Inner Dimension, String Theory)

Postmodern spirituality In the previous section, I demonstrated that New Age characteristics can be found in most contemporary forms of Kabbalah and neo-hasidism. Although New Age terminology is instrumental in recruiting followers and attracting consumers, the New Age characteristics enumerated above should not be seen only as part of an outreach


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strategy, but rather as essential features of contemporary Kabbalah. Indeed, as we have seen, New Age themes appear not only in groups that consciously and explicitly embrace New Age spirituality, but also among kabbalists who avoid using New Age terminology and reject New Age culture. The postmodern nature of the New Age was observed by David Lyon (117) who suggested that the “New Age has strong affinities with emergent features contemporary societies discussed under the rubric of ‘postmodernity’”. Similarly, Paul Heelas (“Limits of Consumption”, 105) claimed that New Age “is the religion of what has been described as the post-modern consumer culture” and Wouter Hanegraaff (“New Age Religion”, 249–250) observed that New Age is “a manifestation par excellence of postmodern consumer society, the members of which use, recycle, combine and adapt exiting religious ideas and practices as they see fit”. Scholars have also observed the postmodern nature of some of contemporary New kabbalistic phenomena. Shaul Magid (60) considers Jewish Renewal as a reinvention of Judaism, “using courageous interpretative schemes in the syncretistic spirit of postmodern spirituality”. In a previous study (Huss, “All You Need”, 620), I suggested that the practices of the Kabbalah Center express several of the major characteristics of postmodern culture. Yoram Bilu (55) has recently described Yakov Ifargan as “a resourceful postmodern saint”. Following these scholars, I would like to argue that contemporary Kabbalah, the New Age, as well as other new religious and spiritual movements that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century, are part of a global network of new postmodern, cultural formations, which can be best described as “postmodern spirituality” (see also Hanegraaff, “New Age Religion”, 258; Huss, “All You Need”, 620). Although both terms—“postmodernity” and “spirituality”—are overused (and many times, misused) in contemporary discourse, the notion of “postmodern spirituality” has, to my mind, considerable explanatory power. The use of the term “postmodern” in reference to contemporary Kabbalah and the New Age highlights their connection to other contemporary cultural formations, and anchors them to the economic, social and technological changes of the late twentieth century. The use of the term “postmodern spirituality” rather than “postmodern religion” emphasises the distinction between the New Age and contemporary Kabbalah and “religion” as perceived and constructed in the modern era. In the last three decades of the twentieth century, major economic, technological, political and social transformations took place around the globe that involved changes in modes of production, the adoption of new technologies and the emergence of an increasingly integrated global economy. The restructuring of late, post-Fordist capitalism, described by David Harvey (147) as a shift to a regime of “flexible accumulation”, and the emergence of a new social structure described by Manuel Castells as the “network society”, stimulated and shaped a new logic of cultural production, new intellectual discourses and new forms of knowledge, which were defined by Jean-Francois Lyotard, Frederic Jameson, David Harvey and others as “postmodern”. The emergence and evolution of New Age culture and the various forms of contemporary Kabbalah in the final decades of the twentieth century should be understood in the context of the restructuring of post-Fordist capitalism, the emergence of a network global society and the postmodern mode of cultural production. Following the weakening of the major social institutions of modernity and the decline of its fundamental narratives, including the grand narrative of modern Western

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secularism, various cultural traditions that were marginalised and suppressed in the modern period re-emerged (and necessarily, reconstructed) in the postmodern public sphere. As Stuart Hall (34) observed: “[T]he most profound cultural revolution has come about as a consequence of the margins coming into representation—in art, in painting, in film, in music, in the literature, in the modern arts anywhere, in politics, in social life generally”. The evolution of New Age culture, as well as of contemporary Kabbalah, expresses the increasing cultural power of such marginalised narratives and cultural themes. The New Age movement valorises, revives and reinvents a wide range of traditions and practices derived from Western esoteric, Oriental, Native American and pagan cultures. Similarly, kabbalistic and hasidic traditions that were marginalised by both hegemonic Zionist culture in Israel and the dominant Jewish denominations in the United States are now revived and reinvented in contemporary postmodern Israeli and Jewish American cultures. Yet the marginalised cultural themes, valorised and revived in postmodern spiritual movements, are not represented in their traditional forms and contexts, but are usually combined with other cultural signifiers, creating a mélange of syncretistic cultural productions. As noted above, both the social composition, as well as the cultural productions of contemporary kabbalistic movements, are highly diversified and eclectic—a feature that is also characteristic of other contemporary religious and spiritual movements. As Wade Clark Roof (73) observed: Religious symbols, teachings, and practices are easily “disembedded” that is, lifted from out of one cultural setting and “re-embedded” into another. Meditation techniques imported from India and repackaged in the United States; Native American teachings extracted from their indigenous context pop up in other settings. A global world offers an expanded religious menu: images, rituals, symbols, meditation techniques, healing practices, all of which may be borrowed eclectically, from a variety of sources such as Eastern spirituality, Theosophy and New Age, Witchcraft, Paganism, the ecology movement, nature religions, the occult traditions, psychotherapy, feminism, the human potential movement, science, and of course, all the great world religious traditions. The eclectic nature of postmodern spirituality involves a blurring of distinction between science, religion and popular culture. Both New Age and contemporary kabbalistic movements blur and challenge the accepted, modernist distinctions between religion and magic, theology and science, religious ritual and show business. New Age and contemporary Kabbalah combine diverse themes such as Tarot cards and quarks, sefirot and chakras, pop culture celebrities and Nobel laureates. Hybrid social identities and eclectic cultural formations are typical products of the accelerated globalisation of late capitalism, which was characterised by Jan Nederveen Pieterse (45) as “hybridisation”. Collage, montage, bricolage and pastiche, which are the primary forms of postmodern aesthetics, are also typical of postmodern spirituality. Paraphrasing Stuart Hall’s observation concerning contemporary popular music, the aesthetics of the New Age and of contemporary Kabbalah can be described as “the aesthetics of the hybrid, the aesthetics of the crossover, the aesthetics of the diaspora, the aesthetics of creolisation” (Hall 39).


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A major feature of postmodernity, which was highlighted by Jean-Francois Lyotard, and is related to the weakening of the major social institutions of modernity, is the collapse of the modernist belief in grand narratives. According to Lyotard (51), the question asked today in the context of acquisition of knowledge is no longer: “Is it true?” but rather: “What use is it?”—a question that is equivalent to “Is it saleable?” and “Is it efficient?”. Lyotard’s observations about the acquisition of knowledge in the institutions of higher education apply equally to postmodern spiritual movements, including the New Age and contemporary Kabbalah. In contrast to the centrality of “belief” in modern religious movements, postmodern spirituality primarily consists of practical knowledge. It offers its consumers techniques and spiritual experience rather than articles of faith, myths or grand narratives. Contemporary Kabbalah, like other postmodern spiritual movements, concentrates mainly on practices such as meditation, spiritual and physical exercises, proper nutrition and healing. The emphasis on practice rather than doctrine in contemporary Kabbalah becomes obvious in the revival of Practical Kabbalah in Israel (Garb, The Chosen, 219), as well as in the prevalence of the term “practice” in recent kabbalistic literature, such as Kaplan’s Jewish Meditation; Fisdel, The Practice of Kabbalah; Cooper, God is a Verb; Aricha, Practical Kabbalah; Leet, The Kabbalah of the Soul and so on. The collapse of grand narratives in postmodern culture enhances the eclectic and hybrid nature of many of the New Age and New Kabbalah groups. The legitimacy and value of practices in postmodern spirituality, as in postmodern culture in general, is dependent on their perception as efficient rather than on their belonging to a compelling and authoritative religious or ideological system. Clark Wade Roof (73) adds to his discussion of the eclectic nature of the contemporary American “spiritual marketplace” that “depth to any tradition is often lost, the result being thin layers of cultural and religious meaning”. Indeed, a commonly observed (and condemned) characteristic of New Age culture and contemporary Kabbalah is their tendency to present ideas (sometimes derived from highly complex and esoteric traditions) in a simplified and exoteric way (Garb, The Chosen, 219–220). Contemporary kabbalists often declare that their mission is to reveal and publish the secrets of Kabbalah to the wider public in a modern, comprehensible and easily digested way. Thus, for instance, Philip Berg entitled one of his first books Kabbalah for the Layman, and the cover of Michael Laitman’s The Kabbalah Experience reads: “Never has the language of Kabbalah been as clear and accessible as it is here, in this compelling, informative collection”. The simplicity with which (most) contemporary Kabbalah and New Age movements present their doctrines is related to the characteristic “depthlessness” of postmodern culture. According to Frederic Jameson (9): “The emergence of a new kind of flatness or depthlessness, a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense, (is) perhaps the supreme formal feature of all the postmodernisms”. Jameson demonstrates that postmodernism rejects the major models of modernity that distinguish between, and give positive value to, depth over surface, essence over appearance, authenticity over inauthenticity (Jameson 12). This postmodern characteristic explains also the decline of interpretive practices in contemporary Kabbalah. Commentary (to the bible, Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah, etc.), which was the central literary genre in previous forms of Kabbalah, is almost absent from contemporary Kabbalah. The decline of interpretation is related not only to a different mode of authority construction (which is today less

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dependent on the authority of canonical texts), but also to the location of significance and value on the surface rather than in the depth of canonical texts. This feature is noted, for instance, in the practice of the Kabbalah Center of scanning the Zohar, as well as in the emphasis Bnei Baruch places on the importance of studying, even without understanding, the writings of Yehuda Ashlag. As I noted above, both contemporary Kabbalah and the New Age are not unified movements, but rather a segmented network of groups. This network structure is a common feature of contemporary society, which was defined by Manuel Castells as the “network society”. As Castells (500) observed, the social logic of the network penetrates and modifies contemporary forms of life: “Networks, constitute the new social morphology of our societies and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture.” This network logic is expressed in the social structure and cultural productions of New Age and New Kabbalah movements. Both the eclecticism and depthlessness of these movements, mentioned above, are part of the rhizome-like network morphology of postmodernity. Self-spirituality, which was described by scholars as the privatisation of spirituality (Carrette & King 15–17; Garb, “Privatization”, 30–34), is part of the late twentieth century cultural shift towards individualisation, which was described by David Harvey (171) as “a general shift from the collective norms and values, that were hegemonic at the 1950s and 1960s, toward a much more competitive individualism as the central value in an entrepreneurial culture that has penetrated many walks of life”. “Entrepreneurialism”, according to Harvey (171) “now characterizes not only business action, but realms of life as diverse as urban governance, the growth of informal sector production, research and development, and it has even reached into the nether corners of academic, literary and artistic life”. Both the New Age and contemporary Kabbalah can be added to the list of realms of life governed by entrepreneurialism. The entrepreneurial nature of postmodern spirituality is reflected not only in its emphasis on individualism and sanctification of the self, but also in the structure of many kabbalistic and New Age groups and “outlets” that have emerged and operate as private enterprises competing for cultural power and economic profit in the contemporary spiritual marketplace. New Age and contemporary Kabbalah entrepreneurialism are expressions of the integration of postmodern spiritualities in the economic systems of the late twentieth century. The spiritual practices and productions of these are marketable commodities, integrated into the global commodity production of late capitalism (Garb, The Chosen, 206–208). Many postmodern spiritual movements, including kabbalistic ones, are successful global business enterprises that market their spiritual services and products for a considerable price, making the most of the advertising and marketing possibilities of late capitalist technology and communication systems. The impact of capitalist market economy on the domain of contemporary spirituality was observed by many scholars including Wade Clark Roof, who describes contemporary American religious culture as a “spiritual marketplace”, while Jeremy Carrette and Richard King refer to New Age movements as “capitalistic spirituality”. According to Wouter Hanegraaff (“New Age Religion”, 258–259): [T]he New Age movement has taken the shape of a spiritual supermarket where religious consumers pick and choose the spiritual commodities they fancy, and use


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them to create their own spiritual syntheses fine-tuned to their strictly personal needs. The phenomenon of a spiritual marketplace is not limited to the New Age movement only, but is a general characteristic of religion in (post)modern Western democracies. The commodification of Kabbalah can be seen in the stores of the Kabbalah Center, the gift shops at the Renewal Movement retreats and the online shops that can be found on the websites of almost all contemporary Kabbalah movements. Apart from books and various kabbalistic objects (such as amulets, jewellery, meditation cards, etc.), various movements and private entrepreneurs charge fees (or expect donations) for kabbalistic services such as teaching, healing and spiritual consultations. The integration of contemporary Kabbalah into late capitalism, and the affirmation of the values of capitalism, are emphasised by the close contacts some Israeli kabbalists have with business figures (such as, for example, the relationship between Yakov Ifargan and Nochi Dankner, the chairman of Israel’s largest private business enterprise or the cooperation between Ohad Ezrahi and Israel’s richest woman, Shari Arison), in the “Kabbalah and Business” course offered by the Kabbalah Center, as well as in books such as Brazilian Conservative Rabbi Nilton Bonder’s The Kabbalah of Money or Yitzhak Ginsburgh’s, The Dynamic Corporation. The evolution of the contemporary spiritual marketplace and the commodification of religion, spirituality and Kabbalah are part of the postmodern commodification of culture. As Fredric Jameson (4) argued, the production of culture “has become integrated into commodity production generally”. “Postmodernism,” affirmed David Harvey (62), “signals nothing more than a logical extension of the power of the market over the whole range of cultural production”. New Age, contemporary Kabbalah and other forms of postmodern spirituality are included in this range. This commodification and marketing of spirituality and Kabbalah is criticised, ridiculed and censured by the opponents of New Age and contemporary Kabbalah. Yet this negative attitude is dependent on a modernist perspective that aspires to separate the “religious” and the “spiritual” from the economic and political spheres. The cultural logic of late capitalism, which is expressed in postmodern spirituality, defies this division and does not see a contradiction between economic and spiritual value. David Lyon (121) observed that “both postmodernity and New Age are all about a new era”. The notion of the “New Age” expresses a similar reflective sense of change as the idea of the “postmodern”. I would like to conclude by suggesting that New Age and New Kabbalah, like other postmodern cultural formations, respond to the new forms of life created by the radical economic, social and technological changes of the late twentieth century. As Fredric Jameson (44) commented, the postmodern hyperspace we live in transcends our perceptual and cognitive capacities to locate ourselves in the changing external world and to map the global de-centered communicational network in which we are caught. This new hyperspace, writes Jameson (39), “stands as something like an imperative to grow new organs, to expand our sensorium and our body to some new, yet unimaginable, perhaps ultimately impossible, dimensions”. Postmodern spirituality, including contemporary Kabbalah, responds to this challenge by offering spiritual ideologies and a variety of meditative and healing practices that aspire to expand our minds and bodies to new dimensions in face of the complexities of life in the postmodern era.

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1. 2.

3. 4.

5.

Such as Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980), and Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point (1982). Like Berg, Laitman identifies the emergence of a New Age with his own activities of disseminating Kabbalah. Laitman asserts that a New Age started in the last decade of the twentieth century (usually pinpointing the year 1995)—the period in which he established Bnei Baruch (see, for example, Laitman, “Interview”, 168). I am grateful to Chava Weissler who has kindly supplied me with a transcript of her lecture. Prophet, Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power (1995); Aaron, Endless Light: The Ancient Light of the Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power (1998); Ginzburgh, Transforming Darkness into Light: Kabbalah and Psychology (2002); Leet, The Kabbalah of the Soul: The Transformative Psychology and Practices of Jewish Mysticism (2003) and many others. Such notions are prominent, for example, in Yigal Aricha’s Kabbalah in Clear Light (1996) and Leonora Leet’s The Secret Doctrine of Kabbalah (1997). Parallels between Kabbalah and science are also drawn in Daniel C. Matt, God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality (1996).

References Aaron, David. Endless Light: The Ancient Light of the Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power. New York: Berkley Books, 1998. Albanese, Catherine L. “Religion and the American Experience: A Century After.” Church History 57 (1988): 337–351. Alush Zvi. Sipuro hamufla shel harentgen: harav Yakov Yisrael Ifargan. Omer: The Author, 2004. Aricha, Yigal. Practical Kabbalah. Tel Aviv: Modan, 1998 [in Hebrew]. Arweck Elisabeth. “New Religious Movements.” Religion in the Modern World. Ed. Linda Woodhead, Paul Fletcher, Hiroko Kawanami and David Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 2002. Berg, Michael. The Way: Using the Wisdom of Kabbalah for Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001. ——, ed. The Zohar: The First Ever Unabridged English Translation with Commentary. Los Angeles: Kabbalah Center, 2003. Berg, Philip. Kabbalah for the Laymen. Jerusalem: Research Center of Kabbalah, 1981. Bilu, Yoram. The Saint’s Impresarios: Dreamers, Healers and Holy Men in Israel’s Urban Periphery. Jerusalem: University of Haifa Press, 2003 [in Hebrew]. Bonder, Nilton. The Kabbalah of Money. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1996. Carrette, Jeremy and Richard King. Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion. London/New York: Routledge, 2005. Capra, Fritjof. The Turning Point. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1982. Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000. Cooper, David. God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism. New York: Riverhead Books, 1997. Dan, Joseph. The Heart and the Fountain: An Anthology of Jewish Mystical Experiences. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.


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Ferguson, Marilyn. The Aquarian Conspiracy. London: Grafton Books, 1980. Fisdel, Steven A. The Practice of Kabbalah: Meditation in Judaism. Northvale, NJ: Northvale Press, 1996. Elima. 2 November 2006. <http://www.elima.org.il/>. Garb, Jonathan. The Chosen Will Become Herds: Studies in Twentieth Century Kabbalah. Jerusalem: Carmel, 2005a [in Hebrew]. ——. “The Privatization of Power in the New Age Movement in Israel.” Eretz Aheret 26 (2005b): 30–34 [in Hebrew]. Ginsburgh, Yitzhak. Body, Mind, Soul: Kabbalah on Human Physiology, Disease and Healing. Jerusalem: Gal Einai, 2003. ——. The Dynamic Corporation: Involvement, Quality and Flo—A Jewish Approach to Business Management Based on Kabbalah and Chassidut. Rechovot: Gal Einai, 1995. ——. Kabbalah and Meditation for the Nations. Jerusalem: Gal Einai, 2006. ——. Living in Divine Space: Kabbalah and Meditation. Jerusalem: Gal Einai, 2003. ——. Muda’ut tiv’it. Rechovot: Gal Einai, 5759 (1999) [in Hebrew]. ——. Transforming Darkness into Light: Kabbalah and Psychology. Jerusalem: Gal Einai, 2002. Green, Arthur. Eheyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2003. Hall, Stuart. “The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity.” Culture, Globalization and the World System. Ed. Anthony D. King. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Hanegraaff, Wouter J. New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998. ——. “New Age Religion.” Religion in the Modern World. Ed. Linda Woodhead, PaulFletcher, Hiroko Kawanami and David Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 2002. Harari, Yehiel. “Mysticism as a Messianic Rhetoric in the Works of Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh.” Dissertation, Tel Aviv University, 2006 [in Hebrew]. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990. Heelas, Paul. “The Limits of Consumption and the Post-Modern ‘Religion’ of the New Age.” The Authority of the Consumer. Ed R. Keat, N. Whiteley and N. Abercrombie. London/New York: Routledge, 1994. ——. “The New Age in Cultural Context: The Premodern, the Modern and the Postmodern.” Religion 23 (1993): 103–116. ——. The New Age Movement: The Celebration of the Self and the Sacralization of Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. ——. “The Spiritual Revolution: From ‘Religion’ to Spirituality.” Religion in the Modern World. Ed. Linda Woodhead, Paul Fletcher, Hiroko Kawanami and David Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 2002. Hellerstein, Moran. “Christian Kabbalah from Its Beginnings to the ‘New Age’ Movement: An Inquiry Using the Case Study of ‘The Order of the Golden Dawn.” Master’s Thesis, Hebrew University, 2006 [in Hebrew]. Huss, Boaz. “‘Admiration and Disgust’: The Ambivalent Re-Canonization of the Zohar in the Modern Period.” Study and Knowledge in Jewish Thought. Ed. Howard Kreiesel. Beer Sheva: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Press, 2006. ——. “All You Need is LAV: Madonna and Postmodern Kabbalah.” Jewish Quarterly Review 95 (2005a): 611–624. ——. “Ask No Questions: Gershom Scholem and the Study of Contemporary Jewish Mysticism.” Modern Judaism 25 (2005b): 141–158. Inner Dimension, Healing. 2 November 2006. <http://www.inner.org/Healing/ healing01.htm>.

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Inner Dimension, Meditation. 2 November 2006. <http://www.inner.org/meditate/ index.htm>. Inner Dimension, Responsa. 2 November 2006. <http://www.inner.org/responsa/leter1/ resp49.htm> Inner Dimension, String Theory. 2 November 2006. <http://www.inner.org/string/ string.htm>. Jameson, Fredric. “Postmodernism and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” Postmodernism. London/New York: Verso, 1993. Kabbalah Center, Meditation. 2 November 2006. <http://www.kabbalah.com/k/ index.php/p=meditation/morning>. Kaplan, Aryeh. Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide. New York: Schocken Books, 1985. ——. Meditation and Kabbala. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1982. Laitman, Michael. “Interview with the Future.” Kabbalah.info. 2 November 2006. <http:// www.kabbalah.info/engkab/interview_with_future/Interview_With_The_Future _C_F.pdf>. ——. The Kabbalah Experience : The Definitive Q & A Guide to Authentic Kabbalah. Toronto: Laitman Kabbalah, 2005a. ——. Kabbalah, Science and the Meaning of Life. Toronto: Laitman Kabbalah, 2005b [in Hebrew]. Leet, Leonora. The Kabbalah of the Soul: The Transformative Psychology and Practices of Jewish Mysticism. Rochester, NY: Inner Traditions, 2003. ——. Renewing the Covenant: A Kabbalistic Guide to Jewish Spirituality. Rochester, NY: Inner Traditions, 1999. Lewis, James R. “Approaches to the Study of the New Age.” Perspectives on the New Age. Ed. James R. Lewis and George Melton. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. Lucas, Philip C. “The New Age Movement and the Pentecostal Charismatic Revival, Distinct yet Parallel Phases of a Fourth Great Awakening?” Perspectives on the New Age. Ed. James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. Lyon, David. “A Bit of a Circus: Notes on Postmodernity and New Age.” Religion 23 (1993): 117–126. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1991. Magid, Shaul. “Jewish Renewal: Toward a ‘New’ American Judaism.” Tikkun 21 (2006): 57–60. Matt, Daniel C. God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony Between Science and Spirituality. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Light, 1996. Meir, Jonathan. “Wrestlings with the Esoteric: Hillel Zeitlin, Yehudah Ashlag and Kabbalah in the Land of Israel.” Beer Rivkah: Festschrift in Honor of Professor Rivka Hurvitz. Ed. Ephraim Meir and Haviva Pedaya. Beer-Sheva: Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, 2007 [in Hebrew]. Melton, George et al. New Age Encyclopedia. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1990. Myers, Jody. “Concepts of Purity in Contemporary American Judaism: The Role of Kabbalah.” Unpublished paper presented at the AJS annual conference, 1999. ——. “New Age Religion and the Kabbalah Centre in America.” Unpublished paper presented at the AJS annual conference, 2005. Ophir (Ophenbacher), Nathan. “Meditation from a Jewish Perspective.” Thumin 18 (1998): 408–418 [in Hebrew].


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Or Hagnuz, Movies. 2 November 2006. <http://www.shemayisrael.com/orhaganuz/ movie2.php?movie=http://www.shidur.net/shor1.php?movie=as1.wmv>. Pieterse, Jan Nederveen. “Globalization as Hybridization.” Global Modernities. Ed. Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash and Roland Robertson. London: Sage, 1995. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare. Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power. Corwin Springs, MT: Corwin Springs, 1995. Ribner, Melinda. Everyday Kabbalah: A Practical Guide for Jewish Meditation, Healing and Personal Growth. New York: Kensington, 1998. ——. New Age Judaism: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World. Deerfield Beach, FL: Simcha Press, 2000. Roof, Wade C. Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999. Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman. Paradigm Shift. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1993. ——. Wrapped in Holy Flame: Teaching and Tales of the Hasidic Master. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Weissler C. “Jewish Renewal in the American Spiritual Marketplace.” Lecture presented at the University of Washington, 2003. 2 November 2006. <http://www.uwtv.org/ programs/displayseries.aspx?&fID=710&pID=497>.

Boaz Huss is a Senior Lecturer in the Goren-Goldstein Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His forthcoming book Like the Splendor of the Sky: The Reception History of the Zohar and the Construction of Its Symbolic Value will be published soon by the Ben Zvi Institute Press. He is currently engaged in a research project “Major Trends in Twentieth-century Kabbalah”, funded by the Israeli Science Foundation. Address: Goldstein Goren International Center for Jewish Thought, BenGurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Beer Sheva, Israel. [email: bhuss@bgu.ac.il]

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Online Publication Date: 01 July 2007 To cite this Article: Huss, Boaz , (2007) 'THE NEW AGE OF KABBALAH', Journal of Modern Jewish Studies,...

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