Jewish Journal

Peace From a Passage

by Gaby Wenig

Posted on Apr. 3, 2003 at 7:00 pm

The Kabbalah Centre has decided that there are ways to bring peace to the world that don't involve staging vomit-ins (as peaceniks did in San Francisco) or holding up traffic on Wilshire Boulevard. The night before the war started, the call went out from Rabbi Phillip Berg at the center that everyone should "scan" (meaning that they should let their eyes pass over the Hebrew letters without actually reading it) a certain passage in the Zohar, the ancient kabbalistic text, which  is now published online. Berg advocated that people scan a passage from Exodus, from the Parsha Beshalach, that deals with the war the Jews fought against Amalek.

In addition to worldwide scanning, the center has also been utilizing every available contact it has to get copies of the Zohar into Iraq. Billy Phillips, director of public relations at the Kabbalah Centre, said that they have managed to get 5,000 copies of the text in there, using Army personnel and shipping companies as couriers.

Although those outside the Kabbalah Center greet Zohar scanning with skepticism, Phillips said the scanning is part of a venerable Jewish tradition.

"People think that the scanning is some invention of the center, but really Jews do it all the time," he said. "In many places, God's name is spelt Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay, but it is pronounced Adonai -- but as you read it, you scan the letters."

In this case, the passage chosen for scanning explained that when Moses held his hands up when the Israelites were at war with Amalek, they would win, and when he put his hands down, they would lose.

"When Moses' hands were up, he was fighting the battle in the spiritual realm," Phillips said. "When his hands were down, they were fighting the battle in the physical realm, which meant they were fighting darkness with darkness. We, too, want to fight this war on a spiritual level, because that way we can bring light into the world, which is the best way of destroying the darkness."

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