‘Kabbalah goes mainstream’ is the title of the lead article in ‘The Jerusalem Report’ (8/11/99). The article describes the phenomenal growth of interest in Kabbalah in Israel. At the time of Lag Ba’omer, a minor Jewish festival around 200,000 Israelis made their way to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai on Mt. Meron in Galilee. Bar Yohai, a second century Jewish sage, is the central figure of the Zohar, the mystical work which is itself central to Kabbalah.
The article describes the annual celebration as ‘part carnival, part ecstatic ritual. The road to the tomb is lined with stalls hawking kabbalistic books, amulets, candles to light near the tomb and olive oil to pour on bonfires atop it. Within the tomb dancing rages all night. The tidal wave of visitors has a messianic undercurrent as well. It seems every mystical sect is pushing its message or its candidate for the messiah.’
Interest in Kabbalah crosses the great Israeli divide of secular and religious. Melilah Helner who teaches Zohar at the Hebrew University says enrolment has tripled over the past five years. ‘Who’s coming? Lots of people fresh off airplanes from the Hindu and Buddhist countries in the Far East. They crave spirituality unlike the secular Israelis of 25 years ago, who were confident of Zionist ideology and alienated from religious experience. Today’s secular students aren’t cynical about religion; they have a problem with the religious establishment. So Kabbalah is an interesting, subversive back door to Judaism.’
Interest is also rising among the ultra-Orthodox. ‘The number of books on Kabbalah being printed and sold in the ultra Orthodox world is hundreds of times more than 25 years ago,’ says Hebrew University professor Moshe Idel. Fascination with Kabbalah has also spread beyond Israel and is not limited to Jews. Rock star Madonna has spent two years studying Kabbalah and a Kabbalah Learning Centre has been set up by Rabbi Philip Berg with branches in 18 cities around the world including Tokyo and Buenos Aires. This organisation sends disciples out selling the Zohar door to door and advertises that studying Kabbalah will help you succeed in business.
So is the interest in Kabbalah a factor which is preparing Israel for the revelation of the Messiah or for great deception?
The word ‘Kabbalah’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘to receive.’ This points to the receiving of secret doctrine by initiates. In other words it opens people up to hidden meanings of sacred texts which cannot be comprehended by plain interpretation. God is understood to have a male and a female nature. The feminine principle is known as ‘Shekinah’, the great Mother in whose womb the universe was conceived.
There is a complex teaching about what happened at the moment of Creation and the Fall. The main idea is that sparks of divine light fell and were trapped throughout the material world. By divine decree the Shekinah was sent into exile to abide with human beings until they purify themselves. By good actions (tikkun) the fallen sparks must be purified and returned to the divine source. As a result the light of Shekinah is restored and she then bestows her bounty of light on the human soul.
Since this will speed up the Messianic Age, bringing about a new age of peace and harmony on earth, every effort must be directed towards this purpose. Rituals and meditation are engaged in (known as kavvanah) with the aim of discovering the unity of all things and restoring the cosmic order.
According to a book on Kabbalah by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, techniques to accomplish this include: relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques; ritualistic dancing, especially to music with a strong beat ‘created by different drum rhythms which tend to be repetitive and hypnotic in quality’; yoga exercises which are ‘very helpful in inducing the state of asceticism and religious fervour which is so central to kabbalistic magic.’ Yoga is not alien to kabbalistic thought and was introduced as far back as the 13th century chiefly by the kabbalistic master, Abraham Abulafia. The writer also advocates calling on the names of Angels and summoning spirits through methods which are familiar to practices of magic and witchcraft in all cultures. She describes how she followed a ritual of evocation entitled the ‘Rite of Queen Hagiel’ in a kabbalistic book and summoned up this spirit in a house she was staying in. Interestingly, in the light of the lead article in our last edition, this was in Vienna where she was working for the United Nations!
All of this shows that Kabbalah is not derived from the God of the Bible, but is a Jewish recycling of the New Age spirit which is permeating all religions and helping to create the end time delusion which will lead to the final world apostasy and acceptance of Antichrist as the Messiah. Apart from the above Kabbalah teaches such New Age concepts as the idea that ‘All is One’, i.e. there is an inter-connectedness of all things and God is present in all created objects. The purpose of the spiritual quest is to discover the divine sparks within us and attain mystical union with the ‘One.’ This can take place as a result of a number of incarnations and Kabbalah agrees with Hinduism in teaching re-incarnation.
The Jerusalem Report article indicates that the spirit operating in Israel with the spread of Kabbalah is one which is comfortable with the quest for spirituality through eastern religions and New Age mysticism. Kabbalah scholar Moshe Schatz, who is ultra Orthodox says that ‘Kabbalah seeks to show the unity underlying all of reality – physical and spiritual. I can tell you for sure that some of the gurus in India are teaching very high Kabbalah. Kabbalah teaches us not to reject anything. We can integrate the insights not only of science but of Buddhism, Hinduism, all human knowledge.’
But it cannot integrate the Biblical revelation itself! The God of Israel is holy, separate from His Creation and yet involved in it (Genesis 1, Psalm 19). He has given to humanity the task of caring for the world in relationship to Himself, a relationship which has been lost through Adam’s sin (Genesis 2-3). He makes it clear that the only way we can approach Him is through repentance and the sacrifice He has appointed (Leviticus 16-17, Isaiah 1). Our problem has nothing to do with lost sparks or feminine principles of God, but is caused by sin which separates us from a Holy God. This debt has been paid once and for all by the Messiah whom God sent to be the sacrifice for sins through His death and resurrection (Isaiah 53, Daniel 9.26, 1 Corinthians 15.3-5). The explanation for the fulfilment of the sacrificial system in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is to be found in Hebrews 7-10. Hebrews 9.27 tells us we only have one life in which to find the way to salvation through Messiah’s sacrifice.
In Israel today the Rabbis teach that the message of Yeshua as Messiah, which is grounded in the Hebrew scriptures, is a ‘foreign’ intrusion and that it should be opposed and suppressed. And yet they are happy to embrace spiritual forces which tap into the occult and are almost identical in their manifestations to the religions of the east.
The famous prophecy of Isaiah which speaks of the reign of Messiah when the word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem and the nations will beat swords into ploughshares and not study war any more (Isaiah 2.1-4) is followed by a warning to Israel:
‘O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord. For you have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with eastern ways; they are soothsayers like the Philistines.’ The passage goes on to describe the day of the Lord when he will utterly abolish the idols and the unbelievers will go into the ‘holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth mightily.’
One of the writers in the Jerusalem Post article above called Kabbalah a ‘back door to Judaism’. In fact it is an open door to New Age and the deceptive religious forces which are sweeping the world and preparing for the strong delusion of the end times. In a book entitled ‘The Real Messiah’ by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Jesus’ claim to be Messiah is rejected and a future scenario depicted in which the Rabbi describes how Messiah comes to power. He will solve the Middle East situation with ‘such a demonstration of statesmanship and political genius’ that he will be placed by the major powers in ‘a position of world leadership.’ He will rebuild the Temple and cause people everywhere to ‘achieve the mystical union of prophecy.’
Sounds very like the one prophesied for the end of this age who will come in his own name and through deception create a seven year peace covenant with many (but not all) in Israel (Daniel 9.27, Isaiah 28.14-22). This covenant will not lead to real peace but the time of Jacob’s trouble and the ‘abomination of desolation’ standing in the Holy Place (Daniel 9.27, 11-12, Jeremiah 30, Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 12-14, Matthew 24.15-28, Revelation 13). The final event will be the return of the true Messiah, who will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14.3-4), the place he departed from at his first coming (Acts 1.11).
We appeal to all people, Jewish and Gentile, to study the Bible, the only place you will find undiluted truth about the days we live in, the hope of the Messiah and the world to come. Kabbalah belongs to the realm of which Isaiah prophesied: ‘And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word it is because there is no light in them.’ (Isaiah 8.19-20).
The Messiah, who is a Divine person, has come once to be despised and rejected in fulfilment of Isaiah 53. He is coming again soon in power and glory (Daniel 7.13-14) to fulfil the prophecies of the Reigning King Messiah (Isaiah 2.1-4, Zechariah 14). Isaiah also prophesied his humanity and his divinity: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9.6) Yeshua, Jesus, is the Messiah of Israel and the only one who can bring peace to His people.