Spiritual Enlightenment or a Dangerous Celebrity Cult?

Rivka Tells Laura Davis How She Found the Kabbalah Movement During a Painful Time in Her Life

Before Madonna wrapped a frayed piece of red thread around her wrist and began persuading her celebrity pals to do the same, ancient Jewish mysticism had little place in shallow Hollywood.

With pop princess Britney Spears and the faddish Beckhams now linked to Kabbalah, the spiritual movement has become the most fashionable since Scientology mopped up the disillusioned souls of Beverley Hills.

Yet as easily as it has attracted converts, it has incited harsh criticism, branded a “dangerous cult” by former members of the Kabbalah Centre, which has branches in Los Angeles and London and is giving an introductory talk in Liverpool on Sunday.

Senior members of the Jewish community have denounced the movement, saying it is disrespectful to their culture as for centuries the wisdom has been only accessible to the most senior rabbis.

Relatives of converts, unable to comprehend their loved ones’ new passion, say they have been forcibly cut off from them or even threatened that something terrible will befall their children if they do not stay out of Centre affairs.

But for thousands of people, Kabbalah, which means “to receive”, has plugged the gap in their lives, lifting up their weary souls and giving them something to live for.

Rivka, 48, who, like other Kabbalah followers, uses a single name, found the spiritual movement during a very painful time in her life.

While suffering from a chronic illness, she learned about the London centre from a friend and arranged to attend an introductory course. She has never looked back.

“I became involved because I was very ill. Somebody told me about Kabbalah and I wanted to see what it was like.

“I just felt the healing effects straight away. Just being in the Kabbalah Centre itself filled me with a positive energy. I feel great now, ” she says.

As well as her health recovering, Rivka found other elements of her life changing for the better.

“It has affected life in every way. My relationships have improved tremendously. I have met a lovely man and am very much in love with him.

“When I look around at my family, their lives have improved too in lots of different ways, ” she says.

Rivka, an artist from Allerton in South Liverpool, is reluctant to talk for long about her own experience, insisting that it is Kabbalah that is important, not her. She appears to be a calm person, slightly uncomfortable when discussing her own affairs but eloquent as she carefully chooses the words to describe the spirituality that has transformed her life.

“Kabbalah is about information. Life’s a game and, if you know the rules, you can play it much better.

“If everybody knew the rules, the world would be a better place. ”

But what these rules are she refuses to share, explaining that she is not a teacher of Kabbalah, merely a follower.

A trawl of the Centre’s website, where you can buy a copy of the Zohar, the 2, 000-year-old book on which the movement is based, for between $288 and $415, creates more questions than answers.

The first part to the Kabbalah 101 on line course explains how the movement “became subject to false rumours and suspicions” during the 15th and 16th centuries as its speculations were far ahead of their time.

It says that Kabbalah is the universal wisdom, a body of knowledge that reveals the spiritual and physical laws of the whole world, that can explain every emotion and resolve every personal problem. It promises to reconcile science with religion and show you how to find true happiness through the search for Spiritual Light.

The first lesson is that we should ignore our five senses as they prevent us from truly understanding the world and stop us from seeing the past, present and future in one.

But you cannot view the second part of the course without paying a $19. 95 fee.

Rivka believes that there is something in Kabbalah for everyone and people should not judge it without first finding out more for themselves.

To that end, she has organised an introductory seminar at Liverpool’s Hope Street Hotel, which she hopes will help other people share her own happiness.

She says: “It doesn’t matter if they don’t have anything more to do with it, but everyone will find something in it that is relevant to them. ”

• THE Kabbalah Centre lecture is at the Hope Street Hotel, Hope Street, Liverpool, on Sunday, 2. 30pm to 5. 30pm.

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Sidebar: Kabbalah Beliefs

• DREAMS
At night, part of our soul leaves our body. This happens even if we are awake, which explains why we feel more tired and drained.

During sleep, the chains that bind us to our physical existence are broken and the soul may ascend to a higher place in the spiritual atmosphere where it receives nourishment.

The soul can view the whole panorama of the human life span and sometimes catches a glimpse of events in our future and they take the form of dreams.

Dreams offer us the chance to understand our negative character traits and help us learn what we need to know to grow spiritually.

• LIGHT
Scientists are finally accepting truths that people have instinctively known since ancient times, that light uplifts and energises and vaporises the negativity that is concealed in darkness.

It has been used by men in white coats to alter our body clocks, moods and sleep patterns and possibly even to strengthen our immune systems.

If light is capable of achieving all that on a physical level, it must be able to do much more as the metaphysical power of infinite Light of the creator.

• RELATIONSHIPS
Eroticism begins in the mystical joining of our heads, hearts and souls. Focusing on the emotional and spiritual aspects of our partners as well as their physical attractions makes our relationships charged with discovery and spiritual energy.

The underlying problem behind dysfunctional relationships is when people do not understand the meaning of their own existence.

• MONEY
Currency is a powerful form of energy as capable of wreaking dreadful havoc on the world as it is changing people’s lives for the better.

If we wish to receive what is genuinely ours, both material and spiritual, we must first withdraw our desires.

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