Interview with Yehuda Berg

USA Talk Today/May 27, 2004

Yehuda Berg is the son of Rabbi Philip Berg founder and leader of the Kabbalah Centre. He is also the associate director for communications of The Kabbalah Centres. Yehuda Berg is the author of The 72 Names of God.

Madonna and other big name celebrities are turning on to the teachings of the Kabbalah [Centres], find out what the big allure is from Yehuda Berg.

Long Beach, California: What is this I hear about a the new fashion of the string. What do the seven knots mean? I've noticed many celebrities have really gotten into this. Thank you. Dana

Yehuda Berg: It's an old technology used to ward off jealousy and negativity from other people.

Springfield, Illinois: First Question. Will there ever be true peace on earth and in the hearts of all people? Second Question. I believe at the end of the world there will be a Heaven on Earth, do you think this will be?

Yehuda Berg: The real way you achieve peace is to bring people together. Unfortunately religion over the years has done the opposite. And spirituality works with religion to bring us together rather than separate us.

Lanham, Maryland: What does Kabbalah teach about non-romantic love, such as love of others?

Yehuda Berg: Love is a tool that is supposed to open our hearts. Many of us have closed hearts and sometimes can't open up in a romantic relationship much less in other kinds. Kabbalah teaches that you can achieve more with love than negativity.

Lanham, Maryland: What are the core values of Kabbalah?

Yehuda Berg:

1. Take responsibility. If you're in a situation there's a reason even it's not our choice. The point is what can we do about it. Example: Christopher Reeve could have been a victim but he chose to pick a cause and be proactive in his life. We don't always know why we're in situations but the question is what can we do about them.

2. Never blame others or external events for what happens in your life.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Why was Kabbalah kept hidden for so long if Kabbalah is for everyone at all times?

Yehuda Berg: In the 13th century there was a movement of Christian Kabbalists and the church wanted them quiet. And at other times Kabbalah was kept quiet by organized religion. This has happened to other teachings as well, it's not usual.

Bayside, New York: Why is Kabbalah being taught to people like Madonna who abuses the teachings? It should not be taught to people outside Judaism.

Yehuda Berg: Kabbalah predates Judaism, was written by Abraham, 4000 years ago. So Kabbalah was meant to be for everyone.

Grand Prairie, Texas: I am a Jewish mother married to a Christian man. I would like to raise my children with Jewish beliefs and faith, but I am scared. I grew up in a Christian neighborhood and was constantly teased because of my faith. I am now an adult and still I receive persecution because of my faith. I wonder sometimes if my children were brought up with my husbands faith and believes if their lives would be easier. Please help me find the way. Sincerely, Stephanie Sokol Smith

Yehuda Berg: The best way is to find core values that include both faiths and then let the children choose if they want organized religion. But they can start with core beliefs and then move on as they grow older to a more organized religion.

Monrovia, California: In the Kabbalah, do you teach obedience and reverence for the 10 commandments? If yes, do you stress the teachings of the Torah and Talmud regarding the sin of homosexuality? Does Madonna and other red string wearers understand their obligation to the law?

Yehuda Berg: Kabbalah teachings of the 10 commandments isn't about just these ten laws there is much more than that. It's not just the laws but the codes hidden inside --They are to restrict our desires, not live in a reactive behavior and live a proactive life.

We teach that people who study spirituality should take responsibility. We are a non-judgmental system so we don't enforce any of the responsibilities.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: What is your reaction to Madonna prancing around as a "Kabbalist" when the mysticism is geared towards

1. Jews, and

2. Mature men?

Yehuda Berg: Again it was never meant to be just Jewish. Sir Isaac Newton wrote more about Kabbalah than physics, he wrote over 80 books on Kabbalah and he was Christian. Plato for instance studied Kabbalah and then gave the world great gifts. There are many people throughout history who have studied Kabbalah and not been Jewish. So it was never meant to be Jewish.

Overland Park, Kansas: Rabbi Berg...I have two questions. First, I am very interested in the Kabbalah, especially the mysticism associated with it. What do people who study Kabbalah think of Jesus of Nazareth (is he a prophet) and is there anywhere in the Midwest (specifically Kansas city area) where I can study The Kabbalah?

Yehuda Berg: Use Jesus as a catalyst in carrying out the spiritual meaning in the Old Testament. Check our website [for a center].

Atlanta, GA: Is there a specific "higher being" that is worshipped/followed by Kabbalists or is this more of a spiritual mindset?

Yehuda Berg: There is a higher power that is discussed in Kabbalah. But a being could be God, Jehovah, Allah, it's all-denominational. Even if a person doesn't believe in God he or she could still benefit from its teachings.

Birmingham, AL: I've studied all I can find on Kabbalah and it bothers me that the emphasis seems to be not on the depth of the religion, but on outward things like the red string, the water...Roseanne's comment was so shallow...."To know there is a being higher than us is so cool......" To build one's faith is to study, study and more study. I don't see a strong faith-based, God-driven religion here. Am I wrong? If so, fill me in. Jonathon

Yehuda Berg: I've been personally studying Kabbalah for 30 years, there's lots of depth to this study. Wearing a red string doesn't make you a scholarly in Kabbalah, but there are depths. There are books and teachings to go deeper and deeper.

Dallas Texas: What exactly IS Kabbalah and how can a lay person learn to understand it best ?

Yehuda Berg: Kabbalah is spiritual system to gain fulfillment in all life. The best place to start is read some basic books. The Power of Kabbalah is one book, The 72 Names of God is another good one.

Hamtramck, Michigan: Does any of our behavior in this life, really make a difference, in whatever is the next step after death.

Yehuda Berg: Not only do our actions make a difference after life, they make a difference during life. Every action we do is like planting seeds and will eventually bear fruit. Who we are today is the result of what happened to us years ago. And at the end, we take all our fruits with us.

New York: How does the Kabbalah fit in with the Torah

Yehuda Berg: The Book of Zohar is the main text of Kabbalah that codifies the old testament or Torah. So Kabbalah can also be used as a commentary on the Torah.

Los Angeles, California: How can I, as a Christian, reconcile my faith with that of Kabbalah? Is it even possible to embrace Kabbalah and yet believe that Jesus Christ has died for our sins and we are already saved?

Yehuda Berg: There are two ministers who are Christian but study Kabbalah and they incorporate Kabbalah into their teachings at church. You can incorporate Kabbalah into everything you do.

Miami, Florida: Why is there so much controversy with Kabbalah?

Yehuda Berg: Usually any "new" teaching that comes out there is friction. When Jesus, Mohammad started..they were all seen as antithetical to something else. So it's no wonder that Kabbalah would be seen as contrary to another school of thought.

Minneapolis, Minnesota: A lot is being made of the financial contributions believers are being asked to make to the Kabbalah Center. Why is it necessary to contribute 10% of my earnings just so that I can believe in the learnings?

Yehuda Berg: First no one was ever asked to give anything. The 10% is a biblical thing, all religions and teachings do it. It's just a tool used.

Dallas, Texas: Rabbi, does a Kabbalist see anything in common with the following? "When events are considerably disconcerting, when one feels like wailing for some part of the world, one may pay attention to the feeling itself, rather than any associated memory. There, at the feeling, is where one's best work can be done.

Yehuda Berg: Yes at times our world can be seen as a hotbed for negativity. The most important things to do at those times is to look inward and appreciate what we have, family, friends. The way to be not consumed by the negativity around us is to appreciate what we do have.

Charlotte: Why would I want to leave my religion and follow yours?

Yehuda Berg: Kabbalah is not about leaving your religion. We have plenty of protestants and Muslims, people of all religions who learn our teachings and going back to their religions. It's about becoming a better Jew, a better Christian or a better Muslim. It's about becoming a better you.

Jacksonville, Florida: is Kabbalah much similar to what is Scientology? what is the difference ? thank you

Yehuda Berg: I don't know Scientology so I don't feel comfortable answering this question.

Cleveland, Ohio: How does a person choose a subject to study - not just an overview course but a really deep dive? The problem being that a person could spend years studying the Kabbalah, the Toltec tradition, A Course in Miracles, etc. There seems to be so many choices.

Yehuda Berg: A person could take a more complex courses that we offer that go straight into the depth of our teachings, not just an overview.

Washington DC: The West's endless appetite to consume mysticism as a saleable product has drained some traditions of their vitality. Can you see this happening to Kabbalah?

Yehuda Berg: We often ask ourselves are we keeping to our core teachings and keeping close to them. It is true that some teachings have lost their integrity in the West. We don't want to happen to Kabbalah what's happened to others in history.

Cleveland, Ohio: How important is learning Hebrew?

Yehuda Berg: Hebrew is not important to know Kabbalah.

Alamo, California: Can you talk about the Tree of Life, please?

Yehuda Berg: Tree of Life is built on the dimensions that our world exists in. There's the one realm that we see and the 9 that we don't see. We teach that we exist in all of them. There's hatred inside and it results in physical application. If someone is ill, and he looks back on his life he might have left an opening for that illness to come in.

Anaheim, California: What are Kabbalah's principles regarding pre-marital sex and abortion?

Yehuda Berg: The major part of Kabbalah is non judgmental. If a person makes a decision to do either, that's their decision. However in our world together, people have to think about the results, do we really want to have sex or because of outside forces. So we teach to focus on what you really want to do versus outside forces.

Where did you get your degree Rabbi?: I did my high school in New York, Queens. Then I went to post high school Rabbinic school in NY and then I got my degree in Israel at the Chair of Ezekiel.

Kansas City, Missouri: Does Kabbalah consider Buddha, Mohammad, and Jesus profits

Yehuda Berg: Prophets and Kabbalists, yes.

Anaheim, California: You said 'We teach that people who study spirituality should take responsibility.' So, if someone engages in a violent crime, how does Kabbalah view that person?

Yehuda Berg: That person is viewed as someone that needs to go through a transformation to connectivity. And they must learn to create a connection with the person they inflicted that pain on and go through a transformation and live a responsible life.

Los Angeles, California: If you Kabbalah has a non-judgmental outlook, then how does a Kabbalist know what he/she is doing in life is right or wrong?

Yehuda Berg: The only judge a person has is themselves if they fulfilled then they've done right. But most of us go to bed feeling empty and therefore need to evolve.

Westland, Michigan: Does the teachings of Kabbalah believe in a heaven or hell, and a devil

Yehuda Berg: We believe in a heaven and a hell however we believe that it can be achieved in this world not just afterwards. We don't call it a devil but we do believe there is a power that creates negativity to bring us down.

North Carolina: Does the teaching of Kabbalah include the possibility of reincarnation?

Yehuda Berg: Yes, many people have fears and dreams that aren't from this life but seem to be from another life before. And Kabbalah believes that our old lives becomes present in our fears and dreams in our present lives.

Paris, France: Don't you think that there is a lot of various religions in the USA because that's the way Americans react to a general process of loosing moral values?

Yehuda Berg: There are a lot of people constantly seeking a new belief system but it's not necessarily a moral value but the aspect of cause and effect. We don't consider the effects of the actions we take. For example, in Afghanistan we helped people to fight the Russians. And now we're fighting them as Al-Qaeda, this is not a political statement I'm just illustrating my point and that is that our actions ripple in time for years to come.

Los Angeles, CA: So, if a Kabbalist who is a criminal, goes to bed satisfied, he does not need to evolve?

Yehuda Berg: Then that person is not a Kabbalist, if a person doesn't take responsibility for their actions and doesn't feel they've wronged someone else then they are not a Kabbalist.

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