Kabbalah and the Politics of Inauthenticity: The Controversies over the Kabbalah Center

In: Numen
Boaz Huss Ben-Gurion University of the Negev The Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought P.O.B 653, Beer-Sheva 84105 Israel

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This article examines the controversies and polemics against the Kabbalah Center, and probes the cultural significance of the denunciations of the kc as “inauthentic.” The study shows that the accusation of inauthenticity is directed both at the kc’s modern features, which are perceived as incompatible with “authentic” Kabbalah, as well as against the kabbalistic practices and doctrines of the kc which are perceived as incompatible with “authentic” modern Western values. It argues that the hostility to the kc is stimulated to a large degree by the postmodern features of the kc and its transgression of the fundamental cultural boundaries of modern Western culture. Furthermore, it shows that the indictment of inauthenticity is used to amplify the cultural power of competing Kabbalists and academic scholars of Kabbalah, who present themselves as experts on “authentic” Kabbalah.

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