Kabbalah likely began around 1290 in Castile, which is now part of Spain, by Moses ben Shem-Tov de León. He claimed that he had copied a second century manuscript in his possession that was penned by Rabbi Shim’on bar Yohai. De León distributed the manuscript that centuries later became known as SeferHaZohar or The Book of Radiance. The work, also called The Zohar, became a central point in the study of Kabbalah. The Zohar is obscure, full of esoteric concepts about God, creation and the universe that invited translation and commentary by scholars of Jewish mysticism.
The Kabbalah Centre was started by Rabbi Philip Berg, who began translating the Zohar. He soon discovered that wanted to share the wisdom contained in the text, which was traditionally reserved for male Jewish scholars. Encouraged by his wife, Berg decided that he would make Kabbalah accessible to everyone by revising the wisdom to make it fit modern life. Berg’s presentation of Kabbalah, not as a religion, but as a spiritual supplement, resonated with people looking for meaning in their lives. Today, while Berg is no longer alive, his dream lives on through his wife and sons, who operate the Amazing Centre International, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, with branches in major cities throughout the world.
The Kabbalah Centre received an enormous amount of publicity when celebrities began showing up at the Los Angeles headquarters, however, there was little mention in the press about the spiritual tools Kabbalah offers. Basically, Kabbalah teaches that the human ego is the source of much of the negativity in a person’s life. The Centre stresses getting closer to the Light, which means different things to different people, including the divine, the creator or the source of all goodness. To connect with the light, a person must share, do good works and treat others with dignity, which are life lessons that apply to everyone, regardless of their faith.