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What is Kabbalah? Don't ask Madonna
By Jamie Sotonoff | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/12/2007 12:13 AM

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Ask most Americans what they know about Kabbalah and their answer will be "Madonna practices it."

Dozens of other celebrities do, too, including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O'Donnell and Donna Karan.

Rav Michael Laitman, one of the world's leading authorities on Kabbalah, says he's grateful for the attention American celebrities have brought to Kabbalah, an ancient science with more than 2 million followers worldwide. However, he is critical of the way the celebrities follow the teachings and doesn't consider them real Kabbalahists.

"Kabbalah is very, very far from what Madonna is doing … as much as I know, she doesn't study according to the authentic sources," said Laitman, speaking through a Hebrew translator, adding that he's never met the Material Girl nor studied with her.

"The celebrities are not attracted to the real Kabbalah, but the psychological compensations -- to make themselves feel better."

What's real Kabbalah, then? Find out Sunday, when Laitman makes a rare Chicago appearance to discuss this mysterious science on how everything in the inner and outer worlds is connected.

During a free lecture at Oakton Community College's Skokie campus, Laitman will explain how Kabbalah (pronounced "kahbah-lah" with the accent on the "lah") can solve problems ranging from the war in Iraq to your own personal strife. He'll also clear up misconceptions, such as that Kabbalah is a religion or involves mysticism, Judaism or red bracelets.

Laitman's stop here is part of a nine-city U.S. tour to promote his new book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Kabbalah," which he wrote, he said, so curious people can begin to learn about it through conversational writings. If you don't want to buy the book, he suggests going to, a free, no-need-to-sign-up Web site run by his Kabbalah institute that's filled with solid information and study materials.

In terms of celebrity trendiness, Kabbalah has been overtaken by Scientology in recent years. However, the number of Kabbalahists continues to grow "exponentially," Laitman said.

"The global crisis will eventually force everyone to search for a solution, and the solution exists here," he said.

Rav Michael Laitman

Laitman, one of the world's leading authorities on Kabbalah, will speak on "The relevance of authentic Kabbalah in our lives" using a Hebrew translator.


Oakton Community College's Skokie campus, 7701 N. Lincoln Ave., Room P103-P104


4 p.m. Sunday


Free admission