What is Kabbalah?

An ancient body of wisdom that is useful to people from any background, religion or race

Kabbalah — a 4000 year old body of spiritual wisdom — holds all the secrets of the universe and acts as a map through the mysteries of the human mind, body and soul.

Through the teachings of Kabbalah one may begin to understand the relationship between the physical and metaphysical realities and how to live life in harmony with the universe and those around us.

Kabbalah is not a religion but an ancient body of wisdom that is open (and now accessible) to everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or any other defining factors. Predating religion Kabbalah was preserved through Judaism and intended to be used by all humanity to unify the world. Through this wisdom we learn the laws of the metaphysical universe which, just like gravity for example, affect every single one of us.

The cardinal text of Kabbalah is called the Zohar (revealed by Rav Shimon bar Yochai in 70CE) and it serves as a bridge between these two realities and also reveals all the secrets of Kabbalah.

At a glance the Zohar appears to be merely an esoteric and often difficult to understand commentary on the Bible, structured as conversations among 10 spiritual masters. However the Zohar is both informative and meditative and as the Kabbalists explain, simply possessing The Zohar brings power, protection, and fulfillment into our lives.

Throughout history some of the most influential minds have studied and debated over the contents of the Zohar, including Pythagoras in ancient Greece and Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th Century.

On a practical and personal level, the Zohar not only reveals spiritual principles that can assist us in our everyday lives, it also gives us the power to put those principles into action. This takes place in every area of our lives: our relationships, our spiritual work, and even our businesses and careers.

What does Kabbalah define as our “spiritual work”? This can be defined in one simple word – change.

Kabbalah teaches that our purpose on earth is to change and develop into the best versions of ourselves that we can be. Through striving to silence what Rav Yitzhak Luria defined as the Ego and cleave to our Light and soul aspect we unify with the Creator and thus elevate ourselves from the constraints of the physical world.

Rav Ashlag, the founder of the Kabbalah Centre, has forged a path of study for students of Kabbalah through the teaching of the Talmud Eser Sefirot (The 10 Luminous Emanations).

This study enables students to come a step closer to understanding the hidden creation process of the world around us, and our purpose within it, thus enabling us to evolve and develop into our perfected selves.

What is The Kabbalah Centre?

The Kabbalah Centre has a single mission which is to create simple happiness, permanent peace and lasting fulfillment for every person by continuing the Kabbalistic lineage and making the ancient wisdom accessible and available for the purpose of ending pain and suffering.

The Kabbalah Centre was founded in 1922 by Rav Yehuda Ashlag who is recognised to be one of the greatest Kabbalists of the 20th Century. Following Rav Ashlag was Rav Yehuda Brandwein who took the Deanship of the Kabbalah Centre following Rav Ashlag’s passing.

Before Rav Brandwein left our world, Rav Berg was designated to continue the lineage of Kabbalah as Director of The Kabbalah Centre. And today, some 30 years later, co-directs The Centre together with his wife, Karen.

Although the Kabbalah Centre was founded some 80 years ago the lineage extends back thousands of years to Rav Isaac Luria and the author of the Zohar Rav Shimon bar Yochai.

Across the world the Kabbalah Centre continues to teach this wisdom to anyone who wishes to learn, as well as spear heading many community projects such as Raising Malawi and the Correctional Outreach Initiative.

Recommended further reading. www.kabbalahcentre.co.uk

Marcus a student of Kabbalist Rav Berg is one of the leading teachers at the Kabbalah Centre London. He currently spearheads many European and African charitable projects, and coaches individuals and companies to achieve lasting success and balance.
Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.