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Chief Rabbi of Safed declares Kabbalah study by non-Jews a positive development.

Kosher Kabbalah for Non-Jews?

Kosher Kabbalah for Non-Jews?

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Kosher Kabbalah for Non-Jews?
Chief Rabbi of Safed declares Kabbalah study by non-Jews a positive development.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Safed, the city that was once the world center of Kabbala study, says that the study of Kabbala by non-Jews can be "positive", but only if done in the proper manner. Currently the chief rabbi of Safed for over a decade, Rabbi Shmuel is the son of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the most important living Sephardic Jewish legal authorities and kabbalists, and a former chief rabbi of Israel.

During an interview with the popular media resource, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said, "I believe that the study of the Zohar by Gentiles, as in the common phenomenon we see today with non-Jewish musicians and entertainers studying Kabbala, is a positive phenomenon - as long as it is done in the right way." He explained that it should not just be a matter of curiosity, but of a genuine search for the "Torah of life".

To see people searching for spirituality is a positive and important development….

Rabbi Eliyahu addressed the matter in light of the jump in sales of books of Kabbala. According to Meir Bar-El, Deputy Director of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, exports of such books have tripled in recent years due to the world-wide awakening to the study of Kabbala. He reported that thirty-five million dollars worth of Kabbala texts were exported around the world from Israel in 2005, and that total exports of Jewish holy books in 2005 grew by 119% over the year before, and totaled 70% of all book exports from Israel. He even said that there are not enough professional printers now in Israel to meet the continuing demand for holy books from Israel and that more training courses are needed.

"This is exactly what Elijah the Prophet told Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Zohar author, circa 1st-century C.E.) and his group when they began writing the Zohar," Rabbi Eliyahu said, "that in the course of time, people will begin making a living from this work. Of course, Elijah was referring to the fact that it would have a spiritual effect on those who study it, but it can be understood this way as well."

"It is told about King David," the rabbi said, "that when he wanted to bring people closer to an authentic Torah life, he would teach them the secrets of Torah. In general, to see people searching for spirituality is a positive and important development."

[Adapted from an article by Hillel Fendel on Wed, 01 Mar 2006]

Yerachmiel Tilles is the co-founder of Ascent-of-Safed, and was its educational director for 18 years. He is the creator of and and currently the director of both sites. He is also a well-known storyteller, a columnist for numerous chassidic publications, and a staff rabbi on, as well as and the author of "Saturday Night, Full Moon": Intriguing Stories of Kabbalah Sages, Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes.
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Discussion (24)
February 18, 2015
Roles to play?
I am wondering: If a non-Jew is not bound by mitzvot then he/she cannot be bound by the restrictions. Not being bound a non-Jew may CHOOSE to eat kosher or light Shabbat candles or say Lecha Dohdi or Amidah or read Kabbalah because he/she believes and thinks these things are important to him/her.
Paul Bourgeois
February 4, 2015
Roles to play
The article says that the study of Kabbalah can be a positive thing but only if it is done in the proper manner. But isn't this equally true for Jews as for non Jews, that improper study of Torah or Kabbalah is not a positive thing. One should always do something properly. Now, the question is: How does the individual who is engaged in Torah study and Kabbalah study discover what is "proper" what is "improper"? Surely different people of different intellects and temperaments, whether Jew or non Jew, should not all study the same way.
Paul Bourgeois
Halifax, Canada
February 4, 2015
non-Jews and Kabbalah study
To Paul:

I agree with you to a degree. The mitzvoth which are unique to the Jewish people and the soul/Kabbalah behind them I agree is for the Jewish people alone.

But gentiles, Noahides, have aspects of Torah and mitzvoth that they are also required to study and practice and there is soul/Kabbalah behind these as well because its all one Torah. I believe it should be perfectly fine for Noahides to study the Kabbalah on this level as well.

Furthermore, the 10 sefirot or "middot" in part, reflect the fact of all people being made b'tzelem Hashem, in the image of G-d. For example, the recognition that chessed is a G-dly attribute manifested in this world and to work toward being a better reflection of chessed in this world certainly applies to all humanity.

My point here is that limited study of Kabbalah by non-Jews should be permissible just as the limited study of the Torah is permissible provided it is those parts of the Torah that apply to them..
December 11, 2014
To study Kabbalah a Jew has to practice the 613 commandments, the Mizvot as written in the Shulcan Aruch. This develops character and improves his relationship with the world. This connects the Jew with the Divine and raises the world. Through action the Jew becomes the embodiment, the body, of Torah. The Kabbalah is what lies behind the mitzvot, the body. The soul. It is not a question of right or wrong. If a non-Jew is not part of Torah as a Jew is then how can a non-Jew, who is not obliged to follow mitvot, even understand what Kabbalah is?
Paul Bourgeois
December 11, 2014
The Purpose of Torah Study
Torah Study is not an end in itself. The Universe is built on three pillars Study, prayer and action. Study give you knowledge, prayer keeps you focused so you know the right action, and action creates. So yeah, personal reasons are very important if you want to raise sparks in the world. You are part of the world. The people closest to you are part of the world. Shimon HaTzaddik was from the remnants of the Great Assembly.
He used to say:
On three things the world stands.
On Torah,
On service [of God],
And on acts of human kindness

Mishnah, Ethics of the Fathers
Paul Bourgeois
Halifax, Canada
December 11, 2014
Reasons for Gentiles to study Kabbalah
I think that, perhaps the main reason why the chief Rabbi of Safed feels that the interest in Kabbalah on the part of non-Jews is positive is because it shows a hunger for spirituality on the one hand and a willingness to seek answers from Jewish tradition on the other.

In other words, the world is getting ready for the redemption and part of this will certainly be the nations recognizing the spiritual role of Klal Yisrael in this process. It is similar I think to the growing Noahide movement of which I have been a part of for many years now.

I agree that it is right to be concerned that the approach to this study is done in the proper way. Personally, I am in favor of Noahides who are thoroughly familiar with the study and observance of the seven Noahide laws having access to Kabbalah knowledge, as it applies to them, through deep study.

That said, I do feel that the basic ideas of Kabbalah can be useful in developing good character, regardless of any higher understanding.
October 20, 2014
Kabbalah Learning for the non-Jew
Thank you for the article. Maybe if the reasoning for studying Kabbalah is for personal reasons ... or for control... or whatever it can give them, it is definitely WRONG!!! But... if it is for a deeper study of Torah... only in what is allowed for a non-Jew to study... is this a good thing? Please reply... It is important to do the right thing and to "sort thru" the wrong to speak...
Rock Island, WA
June 9, 2014
I've got a secret for you! What is required of Kabbalah study before you begin is a solid course of character development. But I have found that once I improved my relationship with my wife, my children, the people around me, controlled my anger, found humility, and seen all people as equals (and I am and will always be in that process of becoming) that those were the reasons for studying Kabbalah. One Hassidic master said once: "Sure, I could move a mountain, but why would I? Everything is already in it's place."
Paul Bourgeois
April 27, 2014
kabbalah for non jews
Rav Yitzchak Ginsburg has written a book on 'Kaballah and Mediations for the Nations of the world' and rabbi dovid sears of breslov has written a wonderful book, also, titled Compassion to Humanity the Jewish tradition. it also covers for us noahides.
November 1, 2013
Are women allowed?
I am confused... Are women permitted to study Kaballah?
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