The Grand Rabbin of France Condemns Kabbalah

Charles Mopsick

Does the great rabbin of France condemn Torah?
It is distressing to notice that the one that the radio chain(channel) France Info recently has to qualify as " spiritual leader " of the French Judaism (4/02/1998), expressed itself in VSD, a magazine general public, (N 1065, on the 22 on January 28, 1998), to emit(utter) a condemnation of mystic Jewish, the cabal. On the page 35 of this hibdomadaire, a signed box " Joseph Sitruk " carries(wears) the following title: " The great rabbin of France condemns the "cabbala" ". As this title was not denounced(cancelled) by the author of the text whom it introduces, it(he) engages(opens) completely its(his) responsibility. To condemn the cabal means condemning at least seven centuries of Jewish intellectual and religious elaborations, thousands of works and their authors, among which Nahmanide, R. David ibn Zimra ( Radbaz), R. Joseph Caro (the codifying of Shoulhan Aroukh), Gaon Elie de Vilna, hassidout, most of the rabbis of North Africa of the XV-th in the XX-th century and very numerous bosses of the Eastern Europe. This condemnation is accompanied, in the box, by particular conditions put in its study. So, " the cabbala must not, according to the bosses of the Jewish tradition, be studied in any condition ". Who are these " bosses " who are named(appointed) at no time? The vague invocation of a "tradition" of authority is the door opened to the arbitrary power and allows to attribute(award) him(her) wrongly personal conceptions. The "preliminary" in which the study of the cabal " is subdued " and which are enumerated, call two observations. If one compares her(it) with the recommendations of one of very Grand Master of the tradition, R. Moshi Cordoviro ( 1522-1570 ) who expressed himself on this subject in its Golden book Not irav, she(it) seems so demanding and restrictive that her(its) real purpose aims to disqualify in advance any attempt to study him(it). Besides, as she(it) aims exclusively at the study of the cabal, it is free to deduct from it that for the great rabbin Sitruk, the study of the commentators of the Bible, the Talmud and the decision-makers is subjected to none of the conditions that it claims to impose. So, the study of these texts does not require(demand) " a detailed knowledge of the other texts of the oral tradition "; She(it) does not require a " competent boss, known for her(its) learning and her(its) devotion ", nor a " adequate environment of atmosphere of holiness "; no more than a " psychic balance, a maturity and a domestic situation assuring(insuring) this balance " are required to deepen(fathom) the literature of Talmud and the halakhah. It means admitting that the study of the religious rules(rulers) of the Judaism, the halakhah, lends itself perfectly to the incompetence, to the psychic imbalance, to the immaturity, to the godlessness! It is true that a firm prejudice holds those who devote to the study of the cabal for madmen. But it is an irrational reaction of little informed people there that one had liked not seeing shared by a great rabbin of France. One would also like to know what this one calls " risky interpretations which can completely falsify the message of the Judaism ". This formula, in the context where it is uttered, who accuses without clarifying either the contents of the bill of indictment or the name of the accused person, is rather disturbing, it turns down the corner of one of the most original lines(features) of the Jewish religion, which evolved only through interpretations, they were "the most risky", if at least this word in a sense(direction). To speak of a " message of the Judaism " means swallowing this one to the rank of an ideology as the other one and attributing(awarding) to the Judaism a homogeneity which it(he) has never had. Because of the study of the cabal, according to the same source, " major imbalance are predictable for the students ". Is it the cabal the great rabbin Sitruk of which speaks or about drug addiction? Is it of what Gaon de Vilna called the " wisdom of the truth " or of a fashionable mental perversion? Which contempt to one of the highest realizations of the Jewish spirituality, an image of which purely negative is thrown(cast) in feed to the general public. How can a great rabbin of France speak ill of a very important part(party) of the tradition of which he is with the eyes of the media an official representative? One also wonders why the study of Talmud or Bible it would immunize magically against the psychiatric confusions, which do not get(touch) more the cabalistes than the others. The following comments, where it is question of our time described as a disturbed " world " where each " declares himself boss or wise person ", reflect an apocalyptic vision of the contemporary reality, and express a lack of sensibility shouting to the vitality of the new forms of religiosity. The " mystic searches "(researches), says the great rabbin Joseph Sitruk, " can not act as themselves ". One would like to add: the public statements(declarations) either. But where are institutions organized( been organized) by the French rabbinate to offer to the mystic collection an encrage which would not be "improvised"? The deficiency on this point is total. Behind this warning, one guesses an incredible insensitivity to the " mystic search "(research), which, displeases the great rabbin there, establishes (constitutes) an essential character of the religious contemporary and which does not cost less than the interest for the rules(rulers) of the cacherout.

This indictment of the cabal is only the introduction of the substance of the statement(declaration) appeared in VSD. The pursued purpose is to throw(cast) the suspicion and the anathema on the " Centres of the Cabbala ", in the head of which the one is that the rabbi Sitruk qualifies of " claimed rabbi Berg ". Taking advantage of a French press campaign which set pretexte of the fascinated interest which some feminine celebrities of the world of the American spectacle dedicate to the cabal to spread(display) a half aware(conscious) antiJudaism, the great rabbin of France is made the herald of a condemnation against these "Centres" pier by a small group of Israeli ultra-orthodox rabbis. The French press, including the Jewish press, showed to this occasion an ignorance and a hostility abyssales. In the article in VSD's question, Catherine Laurent and Ludovic Pompignoli express some blunders. A blatant example: " The classes(courses) (of the " Centre of the Cabbala " Parisian) are distributed in a decreed detail(room) "synagogue" without having even been dedicated by the French Jewish authorities ". Since when it does need that " " the French Jewish authorities dedicate a place as a synagogue so that the the aforementioned place is effectively one there? There are any sorts of places, including private apartments which work as synagogues, and it since chandeliers(lustrums), nobody has ever had the absurd idea to ask for a " official consecration ". The journalists do not realize that the Jewish religion is not organized as the Catholicism, and does not displease Napoleon or his successors home secretaries in charge of cults there, the notion of a unique(only) " French Jewish authority " is a nonsense. Regrettably, this fiction seems to be convenient for the one who was elected " great rabbin of France ", and whose function(office) consists in giving to the fable of the " official French Judaism " a symbolic figure. When this figure, as it the fact in this VSD's article, exceeds the mission which granted him(her) the napoleonic fable and expresses himself in the name of a Jewish small group among the others, the baptized " rabbis authorized to formulate the Hebraic right for every generation " who " asked in writing to all our coreligionists to refrain from frequenting these centres said about the cabbala, and more still incited them to bury books published(edited) by claimed rabbi Berg ", she(it) enters the arena of the debates and the debates and becomes at the same moment subject to contesting. The great rabbin Joseph Sitruk camouflages, doubtless to be " politically correct ", the nature of the exhortation of these rabbis of Jerusalem for which he takes responsibility. It(he) presents her(it) as a "demand" made(done) in writing, while it is really about a hard-line anathema. On what does this one rest(does base)? Catherine Garson's article was published by the Jewish hibdomadaire current events, appeared On Thursday , February 6, 1997, p. 3, and was entitled " The part(party) hidden from the iceberg ", is symptomatic of the campaign of disinformation to which lends its voice(vote) the current great rabbin of France. Although this article is accompanied with the photography of the " austere warning " (I quotes and translates) of the " rabbinical court of all the achkinazes communities with the ultra-orthodox assembly " haredi ), cosigned by five rabbis of Jerusalem, his(her) real contents are totally darkened. The reader not - hibraosant can not so understand(include) the true reasons which are at the origin of this exile. An exam of the text in question reveals that it what instigates lightnings against the Centres of the Cabbala and his(her) leader, is the fact that this one " spread(diffuse) the cabal to non-Jews, to laymen ( hilonim ) and to women ". And the same Israeli ultra-orthodox circles emerge from the analysis of this decree as well as from the other shooting going to the same sense(direction) and emanating, as the Centres of the Cabbala are an object of scandal because in these institutions, the cabal is taught women and because the classes(courses) are mixed. The great rabbin of France, who can not ignore these motives, makes them so his. Why to have had no courage to say it openly to the journalists of VSD: I condemn these Centres because they hold the women capable of studying mystic Jewish, while they are unfit of any spiritual life. What instigates the vindication of these circles intigralistes against the " Centres of the Cabbala ", it is a sexist, xenophobic ideology and the hatred against hilonim, in which any spiritual inhalation(pursuit) is denied. This sinister warning of a rabbinical court achkinaze of Jerusalem, approved publicly today by the " spiritual leader of the French Judaism ", was published in 1995, now this same year, the famous cabaliste Israeli of Iraqi origin and one of the guides of the party Shas, the rabbi Isaac Kadouri, wrote: " that the Israelites are delighted and what those exult who ask, about the rite of prayer that published his honor, big Rav, rabbi Shraga Faivel Berg, Shlita, leader of the yichivah Qol Yehoudah in United States who collected some of the mystic considerations resulting from papers of the saint R. Isaac Louria... " It is true that the rabbi Kadouri decided otherwise because an Israeli newspaper published 21/2/1997 the following statement(declaration): " I cancel my approval which I had given onto the rite, I ignored his(her) acts [of the rabbi Berg] until I receive achkinazes and Sephardic rabbis' letters, and it is austerely forbidden to join its seminars and to read its books(pounds)... " Fascinating about-turn of respectable one hundred-years-old which prohibits what he recommended enthusiastically two years previously. Also the rabbi Obadia Yossef, the former(ancient) Sephardic great rabbin of Israel condemns Phillip Berg, " big Rav " or "cheat" according to the humors of some or the others, because he teaches the cabal audiences where " men(people) and women are mixed ". Certainly, he adds that his(her) ideas " are lies and heresies ", but without giving the smallest precision onto what would establish(constitute) the lie or the heresy. The absence of segregation of the sexes in classes(courses) of cabal is indeed in the heart of the exile. The " Centres of the Cabbala " pull(fire) their origin of a movement introduced in the 60s by the very rabbi Yehoudah Tsvi Brandwein follower of the rabbi Yehoudah Halivy Achlag who considered that the broadcasting(distribution) of the cabal with the general public was a sacred imperative. Globally, the contents of the educations which they distribute as well as the practices which they recommend take root in the circles of the orthodoxy haredi achkinaze Israeli, which their public exhibition space presents all the lines(features) of the most advanced religious modernity. Their attempt of distribution of the cabal can legally renvendiquer of a utopian current of the Jewish mysticism which goes back up(raises) at least to the XVI-th century. The opposition which these Centres meet on behalf of these same circles of the Israeli company(society) today should be considered as an internal debate which concerns essentially persons raising(finding) from the same sphere of influence and sharing a common history. Besides, it is not necessary to isolate the movement animated(stimulated) by the rabbi Berg of a common(current) general who is now outlined with more and more neatness. One indeed attends today an unprecedented reproduction of circles of studies of the cabal, the particularly powerful phenomenon in United States. What appears as a thorough movement getting(touching) the whole Jewish world would deserve better than of campaigns of journalistic gossip or of condemnations of the another age.

A very important part of the contemporary Jewish religious fact is in game(set) in these new currents. As for the allusion which makes(does) the great rabbin Joseph Sitruk for the exhortation of the rabbinical authorities to which he refers aiming at burying " books published(edited) by claimed rabbi Berg ", she(it) would have deserved more attention on behalf of the journalists. This absurd campaign led(drove) hundreds of persons to get rid of volumes of Zohar published by the Centres of the Cabbala, volumes postponing not at all publishing(editions) which one can find in bookshop. This war of the superstitions, those who led(drove) so many persons to buy these volumes as those who urge them to throw back(reject) them, should have been denounced(cancelled) by those who consider as the rabbinical authorities of this country, instead of they approve, by interposed VSD, this tragicomic aberration.

On the subject of the news which will not give the French newspapers, I have just learnt that a big cabaliste of Jerusalem made(did) seven times the tour around the Earth of Israel in helicopter to lead a magic war against the heavenly prince of Ismakl by means of cabalistic formulae of prayer to protect the country against an attack of Iraqi missiles, and that besides, a big Israeli daily, Yedi' ot Aharonot, had just distributed to its readers the rite ( seder ) of the holiday of Tou-Bishvat such as it was established by the cabalistes of the XVI-th century. The penetration of the cabal, under a shape or the other one, in the Jewish population of most of the countries of the world, in the circles belonging to all the currents of the Judaism, is a landmark of this end of XX-th century. It would be desirable that its detailed study was a part of the forming(training) of all the rabbis of France who will so be prepared to estimate better the religious facts of the contemporary Judaism and to face it in a lucid and appropriate way.

Charles Mopsik

[ To note: a Web site which wants a " look-out post of sects ", list the Centre of the Cabbala of the rabbi Berg as being a dangerous sect which would practise the brainwashing with the aim of taking away some money(silver) from its members the sexual life of which it(he) would also control ( These grave charges are supported only by some journalistic gossip of which an article of the newspaper Patric Sabatier's liberation of 24/12/1997 which be only resuming rumours(noises) spread by an American newspaper (Vanity Fair). The madness anti-sect seems to become the refuge of the most primitive fears. These sometimes risk to result in a media lynching orchestrated by freelance journalists hawking(spreading) rumours(noises) of flush. Addition of 27/04/98].