Daily Israel Report

Rabbi: Non-Jewish Kabbalah Study is Good, if Done Correctly

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of the city that what was once the Kabbalah center of the world, Tzfat, says that Kabbalah studies for Gentiles is "positive," if done in the proper manner.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/1/2006, 1:20 PM / Last Update: 3/1/2006, 2:13 PM

Speaking with Arutz-7 today, Rabbi Eliyahu said, "I believe that the study of the Zohar by Gentiles, as in the common phenomenon we see today with Gentile musicians and entertainers studying Kabbalah, 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."

Rabbi Eliyahu addressed the matter in light of the jump in sales of books of Kabbalah. The Manufacturers Association informed Arutz-7 that in light of the world-wide awakening to Kabbalah around the world, exports of such books have tripled of late. Thirty-five million dollars worth of Kabbalah texts were exported around the world from Israel in 2005, and professional printers are in short supply relative to the continuing demand for holy books from Israel.

"This is exactly what Elijah the Prophet told [1st-century C.E. Zohar author] Rabbe Shimon bar Yochai 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."

Meir Bar-El, Deputy Director of the Manufacturers Association, said that total exports of Jewish holy books in 2005 grew by 119% over the year before, and totaled $92 million - 70% of all book exports from Israel. He said that Israel is lacking in training courses for professional printers.