Junk Judaism

A while back I wrote about Kabbalah and its long tradition of use by non-Jews. However, is the Kabbalah Centre (devotion of choice of Madonna, Britney, etc.)’s Kabbalah really Jewish? Or has it become completely divorced from the sacred Judaic and Hermetic practices of the past to become the chic cult du jour?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach thinks so. He writes:
The Kabbalah Centre, with its use of ridiculous red strings to ward off the evil eye, is preying on people’s fears. Judaism has always believed in the evil eye. But its meaning is that people should maintain a meek and contrite spirit so as not to elicit jealousy. Societies are undermined through boastfulness, which sows enmity and slowly erodes human cohesiveness. Humility is only way to ward off the evil eye. The red string is pure snake oil.
Listen to ‘the kabbalist’ on the Kabbalah Centre’s website: “The Red String protects us from the influences of the Evil Eye. Evil Eye is a very powerful negative force. It refers to the unfriendly stare and unkind glances we sometimes get from people around us. Kabbalah teaches us that we can remove intrusive negative influences by using tools such as the Red String!”
This, of course, is pure drivel and the writer robs kabbalah of a moral or ethical dimension. Are we really to believe that we ward off people’s envy not by living modestly, but by driving our overly expensive cars while wearing a red string?

It all goes back to the “spirituality versus religion” thing. A lot of people nowadays claim to be “spiritual but not religious”. I daresay that the KC’s Kabbalah is not really Judaism, but New Age spirituality with Jewish trappings to make it look more legitimate.
Here’s another good article about the KC from the Village Voice.