Kabbalah Form & Content (Philp Berg z”l)


Forget content. It’s form that matters. It’s what makes material.  It’s what works. For instance, the New Age self-help Kabbalah of the Kabbalah Center might be a mix of charlatanism and hucksterism. But Arthur Green gets it right about the Kabbalah Center and its founder, Philip Berg, who died the other week. Green comments, “He tapped into the fact that modern educated people can still be superstitious and still have insecurities and still have needs that were once filled by people who wrote amulets and gave blessings…And he was willing to do that for people in the modern world.” In other words, whatever you think of the actual ideological content, it’s the form that actually “matters” at least sociologically. What makes religion move, its the living heart of religion, artifact and artifice, the reinvention of tradition. Note to Harold Bloom: the mis-reading does not even have to be a “strong.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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