Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Kabbalah Personality Test

I've seen two ads on "similar" topics on occasion on the sidebar or top of parshablog, presumably sparked in large by my continuing series of posts from Shadal's Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah, most recently about the authenticity (or lack thereof) of the Zohar. Or perhaps from my general posts on Jewish topics

The first one offers a "free" kabbalah personality test, to "discover the true you." It is from some website called Atzmi.com. You know who else offers a free personality test, to try and hook you? The Scientologists.

So I clicked on the ad, on another site, to check it out. It is a color/pattern based test, but they arrange the colors and patterns in something akin to a chart of the Sefirot, though of course someone taking the test would likely not recognize this. And then based on the preference for the shapes/colors in specific positions, they create (presumably programmatically) some personality profile.

Of course, to access the results of this "free" test, you need to put in your email address as well as your cell phone number, to send the PIN number to access the results. And you have to agree to their terms and conditions. And of course, those terms and conditions include the following:

YOU MUST HAVE A TEXT MESSAGING-CAPABLE PHONE WITH AT&T, CINGULAR, VERIZON, SPRINT, NEXTEL, SUNCOM, OR T-MOBILE SERVICE TO PARTICIPATE. YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE WILL BE FREE FOR THE FIRST SEVEN DAYS. HOWEVER, DURING YOUR FREE TRIAL YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ANY STANDARD TEXT MESSAGE RATES CHARGED BY YOUR MOBILE CARRIER FOR EACH SERVICE MESSAGE YOU RECEIVE. AFTER YOUR FREE TRIAL, IF YOU HAVE NOT OPTED OUT OF THE SERVICE, YOU WILL BE CHARGED $9.99 PER MONTH FOR YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE IN ADDITION TO ANY STANDARD TEXT MESSAGE RATES CHARGED BY YOUR MOBILE CARRIER AS DESCRIBED ABOVE. AFTER YOU AGREE TO PARTICIPATE, YOU WILL RECEIVE A NEW SERVICE MESSAGE EVERY SEVEN DAYS. YOU MAY OPT OUT OF THE SERVICE AT ANY TIME BY TEXTING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING COMMANDS TO SHORT CODE NUMBER [REDACTED]*: END, STOP, QUIT, CANCEL OR UNSUBSCRIBE. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR ALL MESSAGES YOU RECEIVE BEFORE YOU OPT OUT.

That is, to access the results of your "free" test, you sign up for their service. You have a 7 day period which is free, after which they charge you $10 a month. Of course, many people will not read this fine print and will not cancel until after the first week, and will be charged the $10 bucks -- which they first notice when they get their bill, or finally notice after several months. They note this in a hover-over on the word terms (though not in the plain-text of the page), but this is a sneaky way to take advantage of people, in my opinion.

Don't fall for this.

{Update: See people who have specifically burned by this service, in this way, here, at classactionconnect.com.}

The second place advertised is more straightforward. You can access their website here. They advertise as "kabbalah without the hype." It is part of the Aleph Society, an effort to present Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's teachings on the web. And indeed, they offer free -- really free -- essays from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on a number of topics, including Jewish mysticism. There are links to purchase his books, but you know beforehand that this is a purchase from Amazon.com, and you deliberately purchase it, because you are interested in the material contained therein. An excerpt from the linked-to page:

According to Rabbi Steinsaltz, Jewish mysticism – or Kabbalah – is the official theology of the Jewish people. Although the world of Kabbalah is profoundly symbolic and abstract, its teachings are of tremendous significance to the individual and to society alike. Its influences are evident in all Jewish spheres – the prayer book, the Talmud, and Jewish philosophy.

Agree or disagree -- at least they are above-board, and presenting authentic kabbalistic teachings, in an honest and straightforward manner, from a true scholar. That is important.

* Note: Short code removed due to a legal request.

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