Question: Many people are afraid of Kabbalah because there are rumors that it can make a person crazy. Is this true? And if not, where did this opinion come from?
Answer: Baal HaSulam in Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot and also the ARI and other great Kabbalists explained where such rumors came from. There is no danger at all in studying Kabbalah. In my life I have never seen that it made anyone crazy.
Although there are many people that start to study and stop and then get angry that Kabbalah allegedly didn’t meet their expectations. I receive indignant letters claiming that I didn’t want to open a door to the Creator for them. But I only teach on the basis of the original sources; everything else depends on the person.
This is the case with any study. When I graduated from the university I enrolled in graduate school and continued to study to get a PhD. And there were others who finished school somehow and didn’t want to study any further.
Everything depends on the person and on his desire. Anyone can study; the wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t require any special abilities other than the desire.
Kabbalists themselves spread the rumors that Kabbalah can make a person crazy. After the destruction of the Temple people fell from their spiritual degree to unfounded hatred; therefore, Kabbalah went into hiding for 1,500 years until the time of ARI. And that is why the Kabbalists spread rumors that it is forbidden to approach Kabbalah.
And they succeeded so much that these myths are still alive even in our time, 500 years after the lifting of the ban. Chaim Vital, the disciple of the ARI, wrote in the sixteenth century that there is no prohibition on the study of Kabbalah.
Baal Shem Tov and other great Kabbalists, the founders of Hassidism, made every effort to disseminate the wisdom of Kabbalah. And nevertheless there are still a lot of myths about Kabbalah and many people, especially among Orthodox religious people, protest against its dissemination. There is no prohibition against it anymore; on the contrary, there is a duty to study it.
Israeli Radio Program 103FM, 2/28/16