Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: 100%brainwashed ()
Date: April 03, 2008 09:38AM


I am/was a student at the Bnei Baruch online Kabbalah education centre. I have only been there for a few weeks. I've always considered myself a fairly intelligent, but open minded and stable person but with the commopn defect of always searching for something. Suddenly it seems that I have possibly started to induct myself into a cult (see thread 'bnei baruch anyone?). I think alot of what is written in that thread is way off the mark, but some of it raises questions and some of it seems to be uncomfortably near the truth.

Just a quick story- Just last week on the ARI online forum people have started getting articles that are critical of BB. The one I got is from the katot site and was written by former BB member Jaim who has contributed towards discussions on this forum and has been verified as a genuine source. One forum member recently started a post screaming about how BB is connected with zionism, that Laitman endorses the mass murder of Arabs etc etc etc. The Hatzla programme in Kfar Sitrin was mentioned..the programme that connects kabbalah to zionism and orthodox Judaism and that was purportedly going to close down a school to make way for it.

This is instructor Tony Kosinec's response:

OK everyone calm down.

That program never happened and it doesn't exist.. frankly I have no idea why that link still exists on the web (you will find its now been removed). Here is the story. There is a program run jointly by aspects of the Jewish community in North America with support from the Israeli government. It brings high school kids to Israel for what they call a "Birthright" experience. All of these programs supply accommodation and supervision for the summer and those are hard costs that across the board are about 9K for anyone involved in any other these programs run by any organization. This is just the logistical necessity.

At BB we discussed we started investigating a program of dissemination to allow North American kids to come and learn Kabbalah in the summer instead of wasting their time running around going to kibbutzes and religious programs that will nothing to help humanity. Now, there are certain requirements that must be met before such a program can receive approval. The Israeli government won't give it the stamp of approval and US communities won't consider an offering unless the program is couched in a certain way... That doesn't mean we have anything to do with Zionism or religion - or that there is one cent of profit involved in that idea... which, by the way, we ended up rejecting for the very reasons you all find it unacceptable.. we felt the same and never went forward with it.

Which is interesting because that kind of links up with Jaim's comments that Bnei Baruch will change its image to fit whoever it is trying to convince- orthodox/secular etc.

Maybe I shouldn't have done this but something prompted me to test the instructor's responses to a few pointed questions. here it is with instructor Mike Kellog's anwsers:

1. Would it be correct to say that, when we get down to it, Bnei Baruch is not a 'democratic' organisation. By this I mean that it truly asserts that to save humanity a 'totalist state' will have to be instiagted by a ruling group of wise kabbalists. And that the initial stages of that totalist state are now being gestated. (no need to get into a political argument about the values/otherwise of democracy or the spiritual interpretation of this- just is this basically the case?)

This could not be further from the truth. In point of fact, Bnei Baruch is a group dedicated only to spiritual advancement, meaning to learn to love thy neighbor as thy self, where when a decision is made of any kind, the group as a whole must come to total agreement. It is unlike anything you can even imagine here as nothing like it exists. Humanity will be saved only when all of humanity has switched from operating under the program of "greatest amount of pleasure with least amount of work" to "if I cannot use a desire to bestow, I dont fulfill it". In other words, humanity will be saved when it understands its salvation is dependent on accepting "love thy neighbor as thy self". The group is not a political organization in any way. Its sole purpose is the dissemination of the wisdom of Kabbalah to the world. The world must elect to save itself, the group cannot do that.

2. Is Rav Laitman subject to any kind of organisational, commitee restraint or is he essentially unacountable?

Rav Laitman is the Rav, meaning the teacher. His job is not organizational in any way. The group makes its decisions based solely on their agreement. Rav does not interfere in the group's work.

2. Can the instructors in America say they are 100% certain of exactly what is going on in BB Israel?

The instructors here are all members of BB and as such in constant communication with BB.

3. Are there any transparent financial records for the activities of Bnei Baruch (preferably independantly audited?) that I can see?

I believe so, but why? We provide everything to you for free. (this IS true but BB maaser (10% income contribution) site also claims: All those who wish to advance spiritually must pay maaser. But online students are not asked to do this) Exactly what are you wanting to see and for what purpose? I understand where you are going and trying to test for "cult like" status, but such requests are generally made to determine where money that one is asked to send in goes. We ask for nothing from those we teach. Our goals are not to make people somehow feel comfortable with their opinions of how things are run at Bnei Baruch, but only toward our student's spiritual advancement. Everything we do is at a cost basis. For instance, we just had a mini-congress in St Louis. That congress was held at one of the nicest hotels in St Louis, 3 days and 2 nights, outststanding food, and all for a whopping $200 per person. You are thinking we really cleaned up on that one? And yes, every single aspect of that congress was determined by the group members who came to agreement on the agenda, which also changed in order to meet the needs of those who attended right in the middle of the congress.

4. Do a large, and key part of Bal Hasulam's writtings remain untranslated/kept from public disclosure and is it true that he prohibited his works to be translated and (in the book Or Habair)commented that it was very dangerous to teach kabbalah to the 'masses' without certain precautions?

No, the works of Baal HaSulam and Rabash are pretty much all there, but not all in English. But there is nothing sinister in this lack of translation. We simply do not have the man power to translate every single thing all at once, but we are getting there. But this is not about trying to please someone with questions. Our efforts are based on the needs of our students to advance spiritually, not some wierd justification for those screaming "your hiding something".

3. Is it true that the word machsom (the barrier), as used in Bnei Baruch does not exist in any kabbalistic writtings?..That it was invented?

No. I assume you want an example. The article "breaking the Iron Wall" by Baal HaSulam. Oh, and even the Iron Wall in the title is referring to machsom. This point seems to be correct and also, whilst I have no way of really knowing there are several articles apparently by Bal hasulam which talk explicitly about disclosing kabbalah to the public (ie time to act)

5. Does one eventually begin to disconnect from friends and familly (even if it is 'voluntarily') as one has to devote more and more time to dissemination and late night study? (because if you don't then you won't progress spiritually)

To the contrary, for those who take up this goal, actually become true students instead of curiosity seekers, we strongly encourage people to seperate their corporeal lives from their spiritual endevours. One should not change anything in their life. They must meet their family and financial obligations. There are circumstances in the past that have arisen when a student has not followed these guidelines and we have asked them to stop studying and get their act together. Then they can begin studying again.

Finally, this organization is not about changing the corporeal world. It is about one and only one goal. That goal is the aquisition of the ability to do what the Creator does, to make a selfless act - to bestow. If you are looking for some "save humanity" or "political" organization that you can agree with and perform all sorts of functions trying to improve this world, this is not it. The goals here are purely spiritual and you will be sadly disappointed.

Here you will find only the desire to learn to love, as defined by Kabbalists, not by psychologists. That goal requires one to investigate how much they love their self (which is all encompassing), and compare that with how they love others (which is always for self benefit). If you are looking for fulfillment of corporeal desires such as: food, shelter, family problems, money, honor, knowledge, power, etc., again this is not the place.

Bnei Baruch deals with only one single desire, the desire to learn to bestow - also known as the soul. All of your concerns are with regard to this world and have nothing to do with this desire. Investigate why you are here. What is your purpose here. What are you trying to accomplish. Only in the comparison of one's goals with the environment of the group they are curious about can they determine if that environment is correct for them.

Since some people on here seem knowledgeable about these issues I would value an opinion on Kellog's answers- from the point of view of patterns of obfucation or evasion. It seems that without learning hebrew i'm never going to get to the bottom of all this and I could easily spend the rest of my life researching it so any help appreciated. I would prefer it if people who simply have developed a grudge against BB would not just give me their opinion though i'm obviously not in a position to demand anything.

A final point on this long post. The student who made the initial outburst was not actually expelled from the online group. IN fact they seem to have interpreted their own behaviour as a 'descent'- a state of confusion and doubt which is followed by an ascent. They are now back and singing the praises the group and Bnei Baruch. (Log into to see everything on there right now). Here is Mike Kellog's response to that poster:

Hi ****,

This will not be the last descent you will experience, but now you have a wonderful tool...experience. That means you now can recognize what has happened and overcome it much faster. L'chaim to you for moving past this first obstacle. It is a sign of your growth.

Best Wishes

I admit, having looked at some contradictory opinions of BB I now find that response a little disturbing. It was not a 'descent'. A guy read some dammning info about BB, went a bit mad and then decided that his behaviour was a 'descent' which is immediately endorsed by the instructors...hmmm. What is also worrying me (because I strated to observe this in myself) is that the claim that BB is the ONLY place one can hope to attain true spirituality makes alot of people afraid of loosing out and therefore motivated to suppress their doubts- or interpret them as part of the path. And of course the BB stance on all this is that my ego is terrified of re-establishing its connections and it starts to 'freak out' and is trying to find all sorts of excuses to stop the proccess, that i'll and that i'll be back eventually because i'll realise I need this wisdom.

I don't really know who's right but its left enough of a bad taste in my mouth that i'm not able to sweep it under the carpet like some of my fellow students. I think it might be an exageration to say BB is a cult but, as Rick Ross say, it is a problematic organisation.

best regards

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Re: Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: Habibi ()
Date: April 30, 2008 12:26AM

Hi Simon, just my opinion: I think that the words of Mike and Tony and several other people who posted in the past speak for themselves...

In his responses that you included in this post, Mike himself says that the questions regarding financial transparency are designed to test whether the organization is a cult. He then goes on to downplay the importance of providing such information because, why bother when we give everything to you for free? This isn't transparency, this is covering up... Mike has demonstrated this pattern in prior posts and as a result, he was banned from the forum by the moderator. Given his covering-up behaviour, why do you expect any more transparent responses or clarity?

"Rav" Laitman is not a rabbi according to any stream of Judaism. Even BB doesn't deny that. Yet Mr. Laitman goes around calling himself Rav in official publications. This is false advertising.

Where is the proof that BB are the only way to spirituality? If, as proof, they quote you their sources, do you consider this to be neutral, verifiable evidence?

While we're on the topic, what is the definition of spirituality and who do you allow to define it? Why does BB get to say that their way is the only way? Based on what?

Do you even know if Mr. Laitman has been in "spirituality", according to his definition? If he hasn't, where is he leading you?

In my mind, a group that claims it is the only way to spirituality is at the very least a dysfunctional organization. In my experience with BB, I allowed so much of my free time to be dedicated to dissemination purposes. The group encouraged me to do so because I would attract more "light". I'm no longer willing to hand over my thinking faculties to BB.

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Re: Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: joe1234 ()
Date: May 06, 2008 11:25AM


I would just like to add that I have been studying the fundamentals course (I got up to week 5) and began to have many of the same concerns that you guys have had. What made it apparent for me was that I'm gay and when I asked them about this and how this relates to kabbalah the forum moderators just gave me a whole lot of double speak after which I was attacked by the other students in the course for 'expressing my personal opinions' etc. One woman on there told me that the only way forward was to 'correct' my sexuality and marry a woman.

Upon further investigation I discovered that Michael Laitman actually considers homosexuality (or any sexuality that is not strictly hetero) a physical abnormality and defect that is sent to people to create more suffering (as it egotistical) in order to bring them closer to god. On a blog for their NYC Congress a woman that asked about her lesbian desires was left with the impression that it was some kind of illness that needed to be corrected on a spiritual level?!

I think that this is EXTREMELY dangerous as it pathologizes people and gives them a complex about a part of who they are. BB claim that they are aligned with science yet homosexuality was struck off the psychiatric list of illness over 30 years ago. Their views on women are also questionable. I wonder what happens if someone is transgendered? They'd be really screwed.


Those are my thoughts,


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Re: Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: Habibi ()
Date: June 13, 2008 11:59PM

If you're gay, forget about it... as far as I could tell, there is no room for gay people at BB who don't get married to women. Just don't expect anyone to come out (no pun intended) and tell you that directly...

Yes, this group practises non-violent, cultural homophobia. I never heard any anti-gay insults, but creating an environment where it's not safe to be gay, where homosexuality is pathologized and where heterosexual marriage is the only option, even for gays and lesbians, is also homophobia.

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Re: Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: fshedrinsky ()
Date: September 17, 2008 12:15AM

as ex-instructor of BB, who knows the organization quite well I have only one advise to give: Stay away from them, you're wasting your time. And while I wish time was the only factor here, Baal HaSulam writes in his Introduction to Talmud Eser HaSefiros that Torah (which Kabbalah is part of) is a medicine, called "sam ha haim", i.e. medicine of life, but as with every medicine if not used correctly it becomes "sam ha-mavet", i.e. poison of death.

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Re: Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: rainbowvis ()
Date: June 21, 2009 12:33AM

I would appreciate any further information on BB. I have studied with them for quite a while and I am feeling more and more uncomfortable. Thank you.

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Re: Beni Baruch kabbalah update
Posted by: Voicebox ()
Date: May 30, 2011 08:19PM


I know it's been a few years since rainbowvis post here but I want to add my opinion about Bnei Baruch in 2011.

This is my second try at studying Kabbalah with Bnei Baruch, me and my husband were both participating. We left 4 years ago after what we were told was an ego problem, we came back in 2011 to try again, we still wanted to study Kabbalah as we felt this was the way forward, Christianity we felt was misrepresented and we are both Gentiles with Jewish souls!!

We had been attending the weekly lessons but dismayed at the way the instructors seemed to be badly informed, especially as BB is now pushing the science, saying that we evolved from monkeys. We had been encouraged to write on the student forum with any questions we had so I wrote and was by no means told to look at my intentions and why I was asking this question, another moderator was scathing in his reply. The answers given were unsatisfactory and I felt from this that I no longer wanted to be part of this organisation.

The other reason we left was because Bnei Baruch are not promoting Kabbalah anymore but trying to build a social society based on what I feel is just communism re- packaged. In fact we had been not to disseminate anymore and they would be trying to get people involved by not mentioning the word Kabbalah!!

We wanted to learn Kabbalah but found also that the early morning lessons didn't really teach anything and if some tricky section came up whilst reading the Zohar Mr. Laitman would say, let's move on... How anybody learns anything is a mystery, in fact the same questions are asked over and over again by students, no- one is understanding anything... And no wonder as we are told it is not about knowledge of the subject that we will attain spirituality... Try telling that to the old Kabbalists... They would disagree. Without knowledge of the Torah, Talmud we are lost in studying Kabbalah.

So we have left Bnei Baruch and their continual Congresses where partying rules to study on our own. Of course not really on our own but with God's help!

Finally I would say, Bnei Baruch are not what they seem and are misrepresenting a beautiful, wondrous system of knowledge that can be found if you go about finding it with the correct books and teachers.

Thank- you for reading.

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