Philip S. Berg (original name Feivel Gruberger) (August 20, 1927 –
September 16, 2013) was an American rabbi and dean of the worldwide
Kabbalah Centre organization.
Having written a number of books on the subject of Kabbalah, Berg
believed that the philosophy should not be taught exclusively to a
select few Jewish scholars but become a shared wealth of practical
wisdom available to all of humankind.
There is disagreement about whether Berg's teachings, as relayed
Kabbalah Centre, have sufficient grounds and/or genuine
authority according to Jewish law, as they include some dogmas and
translations differing markedly from those of more-traditional
Kabbalists. Some Jewish scholars emphatically reject such teachings,
deeming them as foreign to both the
Kabbalah in particular and to
Judaism in general.
In poor health following a stroke in 2004, he died on September 16,
2 Works by Berg and his sons
3 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Berg was born as Shraga Feivel Gruberger in Brooklyn, to an Orthodox
Jewish family. His first wife was named Rivkah with whom he had
eight children. It was Rivka's uncle,
Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein, dean of
a Yeshiva named Kol Yehuda, whom Berg first met on a trip to
1962, and who would become his Kabbalistic mentor. There is some
disagreement over who succeeded
Rabbi Brandwein as dean of Yeshiva Kol
Yehuda - Berg has claimed to have replaced
Rabbi Brandwein in that
role, but that claim is disputed by Brandwein's son Avraham, who is
the current dean.
After Brandwein's death in 1969, Berg returned to the U.S. and began
working again with his former secretary and future wife, Karen, on the
condition that she let him teach her Kabbalah, a discipline he claimed
was reserved exclusively for men. In 1971 Philip and Karen married and
traveled to Israel. Then, in 1973, the Bergs returned to Queens, where
they established their full-time headquarters during the 1980s.
Reports about Berg are conflicting. According to a 1994 article in Tel
Aviv magazine, Berg said he was ordained in the U.S.A. in the early
'50s and received an additional ordination in
Israel from his former
father-in-law. Berg received rabbinic ordination by the Lakewood
Yeshiva in 1951, though he has been denounced by the traditional
Orthodox Jewish community as represented by the Lakewood Yeshiva.
According to Burg website he was an alumnus of Yeshiva Torah VeDaas
not BMG, Lakewood. The Los Angeles Task Force on Cults and
Missionaries claimed he was not affiliated with the 80-year-old
Yeshiva Kol Yehuda in Jerusalem, once headed by Berg's ex-uncle-in-law
by his first wife, the late
Rabbi Brandwein, though he claimed he
was. He also fathered 8 children with his first wife RIfkah.
In 2010, the
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service launched an investigation,
reportedly investigating whether funds were directed to the personal
enrichment of the Berg family, and subpoenaed financial records of the
organization and two affiliated charities connected to Madonna. The
centre called the allegations “merit-less” and said it “intends
to defend the case vigorously”.
Berg had been ill since suffering a stroke in 2004. He died on
September 16, 2013. He was generally reported to be 86 (although the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times reported that according to public records he was
84). He is survived by his wife Karen and two sons, Yehuda and
Michael who have led the Centre since his stroke. He also had
eight children from his first marriage.
Works by Berg and his sons
Philip S. Berg, The Wheels of a Soul. Research Centre of Kabbalah,
1984. ISBN 0-943688-13-2
Philip S. Berg, Astrology, the Star Connection: The Science of Judaic
Astrology. Research Centre of Kabbalah, 1987. ISBN 0-943688-37-X
Philip S. Berg, "
Kabbalah for the Layman", Vol. II. Research Centre of
Kabbalah, 1993. ISBN 0-924457-19-8
Philip S. Berg, Kabbalistic Astrology Made Easy. Research Centre of
Kabbalah, 1999. ISBN 1-57189-053-X
Michael Berg, The Way: Using the Wisdom of
Kabbalah for Spiritual
Transformation and Fulfillment. Wiley Publishing, 2003.
Yehuda Berg, The 72 Names of God: Technology for the Soul. Kabbalah
Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-57189-135-8
Yehuda Berg, The Power of Kabbalah.
Kabbalah Publishing, 2004.
Yehuda Berg, The Red String Book: The Power of Protection. Kabbalah
Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-57189-248-6
Rav P. S. Berg, Kabbalistic Astrology: And the Meaning of Our Lives.
Kabbalah Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-57189-556-6
Michael Berg (
^ Petition for Naturalization of Max Gruberger, Philip Berg's father
accessed at Ancestry.com. Selected U.S. Naturalization Records -
Original Documents, 1790-1974 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.
^ a b Harriet Ryan (September 16, 2013). "
Kabbalah Centre founder
Philip Berg dead at 84". Los Angeles Times.
^ a b c Udovich, Mim. "
Kabbalah Chronicles: Inside Hollywood's hottest
cult", Radar Online, June 15, 2005. (Copy at "Archived copy". Archived
from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved 2006-08-05. CS1
maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) )
^ a b "
Rabbi Philip Berg, Who Updated Jewish Mysticism, Dies at 86".
The New York Times. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
^ Ellin, Abby; Sacks, Adam J. "The
Kabbalah Centre Wants your Heart -
and your Money: The String that Binds" in The Village Voice, August
^ a b "
Rabbi Philip Berg". Daily Telegraph. 2013-09-20. Retrieved
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain
unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to
improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (November
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Daphne Merkin, In Search of the Skeptical, Hopeful, Mystical
Could Be Me, New York Times Magazine, April 13, 2008
Tamara Ikenberg, Madonna, et al. have watered down Jewish mysticism,
scholars charge Louisville Courier-Journal, August 26, 2004
David Rowan, Chief
Rabbi sounds alarm on mystical
Kabbalah group The
Times, April 3, 2004
Robert Eshman, L.A.'s
Kabbalah Learning Center seems to attract many
searching Jews, but criticism of it is widespread The Jewish Journal,
February 14, 1997
Aynat Fishbein, The Cabal of the Cabbalah Centre Exposed: New
Relations "Tel Aviv" (An Israeli magazine) September 1994,
Nadya Labi, What Profits Kabbalah? Time Magazine, November 24, 1997
The Truth about the
Kabbalah Centre Task Force on Cults and
Missionaries, Los Angeles, CA 1995
Kabbalah and the Spiritual Quest: The
Kabbalah Centre in
America, London 2007.
Boaz Huss. "The New Age of Kabbalah: Contemporary Kabbalah, the New
Age and postmodern spirituality", Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 6
(2006), pp. 107–125
Jonatan Meir. "The Revealed and the Revealed within the Concealed: On
the Opposition to the "Followers" of
Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag and the
Dissemination of Esoteric Literature", Kabbalah: Journal for the Study
of Jewish Mystical Texts 16 (2007), pp. 151–258
Jonatan Meir. "Phillip Berg and the
Kabbalah Centre", Daat 70 (2011),
Jonatan Meir, "The Beginnings of
Kabbalah in America: The Unpublished
Manuscripts of R. Levi Isaac Krakovsky", Aries: Journal for the Study
of Western Esotericism 13, 2 (2013), pp. 237-268
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Rabbi Philip Berg, Who Updated Jewish Mysticism, Dies at 86".
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