Bnei Baruch Kabbalah La-Am Victim Shares His Story

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Bnei Baruch kabbalah center--a cult?In April 2009 I wrote a post about the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah La-Am. Since then the post has had a steady stream of search traffic, along with comments from both members and former members. I recently closed comments there both because I did not want to give more space to members, and because a former member started attacking me as a sympathizer. Ironically, she claimed that since my post on Bnei Baruch could be found via Google I must be in cahoots with them.

When a reader, “Some Guy,” asked to open the comments section, I emailed him. He sent me a 6000-word account of his experience with Bnei Baruch. I believe it’s important for the information to be out there for people looking for information, but it’s not really an ordinary post. So I’ve published it as a page. Pages aren’t dated, so they don’t appear in the archives. You can comment here or there, as long as I leave them open.

The writer also sent me follow-up comments in response to a question about finances, which I may publish at a later point. I’ve corresponded with the writer over the past few days and know his real name. His account rings true, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Former Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Victim Speaks Out

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  1. My basic response to that this that yes, he had a very traumatic experience, and I feel sorry for him.
    However that comes part and parcel with learning Kabbalah without the proper foundations of Torah,Gemarra, and Halakha. As well as attempting to learn Kabbalah from someone who is not qualified to teach Kabbalah.
    It is sad that he never looked into Torah-true Judaism(in any form) or spoke with a real kabbalist(Rabbi Yaakov Hillel for example), who would have been able to help him find his way out and to sanity.
    However, as a Jew and someone who studies Kabbalahh, I found his letter quite offensive. What he describes as “Kabbalah” is as close to true Kabbalah as Mormonism is to his own new found religion. It loosely borrows some ideas and concepts, twists them, and adds its own layers of… I don’t know what.
    Michael Tzadok recently posted..More on TefillinMy Profile

    • Michael, hearing that kind of story must be frustrating for true scholars of kabbalah. I don’t think any offense is meant, though.

      • I don’t think he meant offense. It seems more an unfortunate by product of his perceptions. While I don’t think that the offense given is necessarily intentional, it could be prevented by not claiming that all Kabbalah or even Kabbalah in general is what is taught by the Kabbalah cults that are springing up all over the place, and yes they are a problem.
        Michael Tzadok recently posted..More on TefillinMy Profile

    • Where is Dr Laitman’s ordination both as a rabbi and Kabbalist (his Smicha), from his teacher?
      Where is the proof that Dr Laitman’s teacher Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag is the successor of Rav Yehuda Ashlag?

      Paul G.

  2. I don’t think the problem is with the emailer calling what he went through “Kabballah,” thats what the cult he belonged to called it. The problem is with the cults themselves, and practitioners of real Kabballah should be at the forefront of calling the cults out for doing bad things in the name of Kabballah.
    Fern recently posted..3 Ways to Give Your Balcony a Fresh Start in 2011My Profile

    • Real Kabbalists have been. Rav Yaakov Hillel continues to publish his book Faith and Folly, as well as having a significant chapter about it in Ascending Jacobs Ladder. There have been responsa and books published in Hebrew… the list goes on.

      There are entire organizations within Judaism that are dedicated to helping people find their way out of cults like these, and to not finding their way into them. Unfortunately too many still fall through the cracks. However, most Rabbanim feel powerless to address the situation more than it already has.
      Oh yeah, and I have a blog dealing with this and other Kabbalah related issues.
      Michael Tzadok recently posted..More on TefillinMy Profile

  3. Michael – I think Christianity was his religion of origin. I never got the impression he was Jewish…so he found his own way out perhaps with the help of a minister or priest. So what?

    This letter reads like a Dan Brown novel only without the crappy ending.

    I just don’t get what’s in it for the cult but I’ve never studied anything about cults so maybe that’s the problem. Is it the power? More adherents = more power? Are they looking for adulation? Money? Did he have to pay for these “lessons”?

    Still, it’s very scary stuff.

    • Elisheva–I asked the same questions. Stay tuned for part 2 (hopefully you’ll like the ending there too).

    • I searched their site and looked at their registration options. They apparently don’t charge anything. However, not every cult is about making money. Nor is everyone about control. Some really are just well-intentioned, but seriously disturbed, individuals. Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite all prove this.
      Michael Tzadok recently posted..More on TefillinMy Profile

      • If those guys are well-intentioned, I’d like to know your definition of a bad guy.

        • Well I did offer the caveat that they were deranged(or otherwise seriously disturbed). what I meant by well intentioned is that they thought(quite erroniously) that they were G=d’s next big Prophet.

          It seems to me that the only thing that separates them from say Buddha, Confucius or Muhammed, was a tragically undiagnosed mental disorder that lead to self-destructive behavior.

          I guess it is just my sometimes cynic nature which says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I save truly bad guys for histories real sociopaths, Caligula, Stalin, Mao, Hitler(Ma Shmo).

          With the cult leaders named, you had people who honestly and truly believed in(to the point of ending their own lives) the faith systems that they believed in.

          As a case in point(not that I personally think that two mean are at all equivalent) Do you really think that Romans saw Eleazar Ben Yair and his stand at Masada, much different than Americans saw David Koresh and his stand at Waco?
          Michael Tzadok recently posted..Journeys of Life Part IV- Twilight of the Age of DreamsMy Profile

  4. hey, can someone share a story about kabbalah, i want to know the meaning and story… share pliss to my email, thx anggo2@yahoo.co.id

  5. You certainly love to listen to yourselves talk. If you have any questions, why don’t you ask me? Are you afraid of the answers? I’m from Bnei Baruch, and we are always open to all kinds of questions, whether from our students or from those who would love to wipe us out. Do you allow freedom of expression or would you like others to do what you think it’s good for them?

    Marie