This is a story 4,000 years in the making. Kabbalah is perhaps the oldest collection of universal spiritual knowledge in human history. In fact, kabbalists claim that the first book of Kabbalah was given to Adam by the entity Raziel – a long time ago.
During the last couple decades, a great revival of interest in Kabbalah has taken place, due partly to the flowering of spiritual consciousness in general – and more specifically, to the discovery by many that Kabbalah is a universal tool for spiritual growth, not just Jewish mysticism, as has been erroneously believed.
The wisdom of Kabbalah has been passed down to us by Abraham, Moses, and the other patriarchs and matriarchs of the Bible, and by the great kabbalists of history.
However, for the last 4,000 years of our modern era, Kabbalah, was accessible only to scholarly Jewish men over the age of 40, and had been forbidden to all others, including women.
That is, until 1968 and Karen Berg.
The odd couple
It was the 1960s. Karen was a self-described "wild child with a crazy childhood…a mini-skirted, divorced woman in her 20s with two little girls." Destiny brought her together with Philip Berg, the Rav (teacher) – "an Orthodox Jew in a long black frock coat and a big black fur hat – the original odd couple." Little did they know then that they would make history.
Karen and Philip married and lived in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn. Their differences were monumental. The Rav threw out all of Karen’s books on astrology and spirituality. They fought over a television set. Yet despite their troubles, they didn’t give up on their commitment to each other. In fact, it was their differences that eventually made it possible for Kabbalah to become accessible to everyone. The Bergs – then a family of six, as their two sons had been born – moved to Israel. There the Rav became director of The Kabbalah Centre in Tel Aviv, founded in 1922 by his teacher’s teacher, Rav Yehuda Ashlag. Rav Berg studied.
"But it was all so abstract," Karen recalls. "It took a woman to knock on the door and say, ‘Bring it to a format. Make it real.’"
Karen asked the Rav, "What about a person who is unhappy or who has a certain kind of karma or was born under a particular sign? If everything happens for a reason, then issues like astrology, reincarnation and past-life experience, which I know to be true, must be included." This prompted the Rav to study more. In the writings of a famed 16th century Spanish Kabbalist, he found The Gates of Reincarnation. And in The Book of Formation – the first recorded document of Kabbalah, written 4,000 years ago by the Patriarch Abraham – he found a whole universe of astrology. Karen and the Rav began studying this wisdom together.
Finally, Karen said, "Look, if I can understand these teachings (and I’m not such a great big soul), then others can, too. Let’s open The Kabbalah Centre to everyone. Men and women together."
"What?" he responded. The thought of women learning Kabbalah was hard enough, but women learning together with men? That was unheard of. "Forget about it," he shot back.
"What can happen?" Karen asked.
"Women. We’ll get murdered," he said.
But it was the 60s. And Karen had been rebellious and stubborn all her life, so she insisted on opening the wisdom of Kabbalah to everyone, regardless of race, gender or religious belief. And the rest, indeed, is history, as The Kabbalah Centre has gone from a small exclusive organization based in Israel to 50 locations worldwide, throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Israel and the Middle East, Russia, Africa, Australia and Japan. Since 1968, the center has provided instruction to millions of students.
What is Kabbalah? The word "Kabbalah" itself is feminine and means "receiving." Essentially, the Kabbalah is a collection of knowledge, provided by the Creator, that was handed down for millennia as a secret, oral tradition. When properly used, it explains the nature of the universe. It reveals that, like the world of the physical, there is a spiritual system with laws that can help us to live our lives with greater happiness and fulfillment.
Kabbalah explains the reason for creation and the way that each and every individual can come to discover their purpose in this world.
"I have written God Wears Lipstick, the first Kabbalistic Bible for women, to help you become aware that you don’t have to be a 40-year old man – and a Kabbalah scholar to boot – to learn Kabbalah," Karen Berg says. "You can be a female in your 20s or your 70s. You can be a Christian or a Moslem… a high-powered executive, a movie star, or a sales clerk. It will give you the nourishment to go further and become as great as you can be in your potential spiritual enlightenment."
Why Kabbalah for women? In 1968, Karen Berg decided that "4,000 years was long enough" for the study to be forbidden to women – and because of women’s wholly equal role with men in the spiritual truth of creation and manifestation.
"The feminine is the receptive element in Creation," she says. "She is the vessel. Without the vessel, there cannot be Light – Light does not exist in a void. "It is the female who brings the Light into the home, who manifests all the energy and puts it in its place, helping others grow. Women are the nourishers of the world, and as such, the messengers of God. Now is the time when women must have the tools to help all of us manifest more Light in the world."
Forces of light
Why NOW? According to Kabbalah, in the earthly human battle of light versus dark forces, the scales will be tipped on the side of the light at some moment in human history. At that moment of critical mass, the forces of light will permanently overcome the dark elements, and Heaven on Earth will unfold. This is a Universal prophecy and process that appears in many of the world’s spiritual traditions. But, certainly, Kabbalah may be the oldest.
When will this tipping point be reached? According to Kabbalah, no later than the year 6000 in the Lunar calendar. The current year is 5765, so according to Kabbalah, this tipping of the scales will occur within the next 235 years.
"Why wait?" says Berg. "We can bring this to pass sooner. Wouldn’t we prefer to see it in our lifetimes rather than 200 years from now?"
This possibility plays a significant role in Berg’s intense desire to spread the teachings worldwide to anyone who is drawn to them. In nearly 40 years, The Kabbalah Centres have provided instruction to almost four million students. Men and women. Of all religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. All around the world.
And the work continues, still guided by Karen, the Rav and their two sons, Michael and Yehuda. God Wears Lipstick will likely bring the teachings to hundreds of thousands more, mostly women, who can use this wisdom to nourish themselves, each other, and the whole world. Who knows? We may yet see that tipping point sooner rather than later. It is, after all, up to us!
Karen Berg is offering a free CD lecture and a download of a chapter from God Wears Lipstick to anyone who registers online. Visit www.godwearslipstick.com/freecd, register, then choose a free CD on Spiritual Parenthood, Divine Sex, or The Final Millennium, as well as the free chapter from her book.