Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Safed, the city that was once the world center of Kabbalastudy, says that the study of Kabbala by non-Jews can be "positive", but only if done in the proper manner. Currently the chief rabbi of Safed for over a decade, Rabbi Shmuel is the son of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the most important living SephardicJewish legal authorities and kabbalists, and a former chief rabbi of Israel.
During an interview with the popular media resource, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said, "I believe that the study of the Zohar by Gentiles, as in the common phenomenon we see today with non-Jewish musicians and entertainers studying Kabbala, is a positive phenomenon - as long as it is done in the right way." He explained that it should not just be a matter of curiosity, but of a genuine search for the "Torah of life".
To see people searching for spirituality is a positive and important development….
Rabbi Eliyahu addressed the matter in light of the jump in sales of books of Kabbala. According to Meir Bar-El, Deputy Director of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, exports of such books have tripled in recent years due to the world-wide awakening to the study of Kabbala. He reported that thirty-five million dollars worth of Kabbala texts were exported around the world from Israel in 2005, and that total exports of Jewish holy books in 2005 grew by 119% over the year before, and totaled 70% of all book exports from Israel. He even said that there are not enough professional printers now in Israel to meet the continuing demand for holy books from Israel and that more training courses are needed.
"This is exactly what Elijah the Prophet told Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Zohar author, circa 1st-century C.E.) and his group when they began writing the Zohar," Rabbi Eliyahu said, "that in the course of time, people will begin making a living from this work. Of course, Elijah was referring to the fact that it would have a spiritual effect on those who study it, but it can be understood this way as well."
"It is told about King David," the rabbi said, "that when he wanted to bring people closer to an authentic Torah life, he would teach them the secrets of Torah. In general, to see people searching for spirituality is a positive and important development."
[Adapted from an article by HillelFendel on israelnationalnews.com/ Wed, 01 Mar 2006]