For you Houstoners, there is a building on S Shepherd called "The Kabbalah Center" that uses a map of the 10 sefirot as it's logo. It looks like something that might exist in other cities. All the books inside are written by one man, Yehuda Berg. Is this place a genuine place to study Kabbalah? Is this man an accepted Kabbalistic scholar? Can anyone explain who this man is and what these places are?
Is this place a genuine place to study Kabbalah?
At five years old a person should study the Scriptures, at ten years for the Mishnah, at thirteen for the commandments, at fifteen for the Talmud, at eighteen for the bridechamber, at twenty for one's life pursuit, at thirty for authority, at forty for discernment, at fifty for counsel, at sixty to be an elder, at seventy for gray hairs, at eighty for special strength (Psalm 90:10), at ninety for decrepitude, and at a hundred a man is as one who has already died and has ceased from the affairs of this world. (Pirkei Avos, 5:21)
The phrase "at forty for discernment" (wisdom) is traditionally understood to mean that a person needs to both reach the age of forty, AND complete all of the previous prerequisites (mastering Scriptures, Mishnah, Talmud, getting married, having a career, etc) before one can properly understand Kabbalah. (See the Shach, Yoreh Deah 246:6)
The Kabbalah Center is a dangerous cult, that uses some authentic Kabbalistic ideas from Rav Ashlag, just enough to impress spiritual seekers. Then, they squeeze every last dollar out of their victims, promising blessings for giving, and curses for not giving.