Zimbardo on Cults

"The appeal
What is the appeal of cults? Imagine being part of a group in which you will find instant friendship, a caring family, respect for your contributions, an identity, safety, security, simplicity, and an organized daily agenda. You will learn new skills, have a respected position, gain personal insight, improve your personality and intelligence. There is no crime or violence and your healthy lifestyle means there is no illness.
Your leader may promise not only to heal any sickness and foretell the future, but give you the gift of immortality, if you are a true believer. In addition, your group's ideology represents a unique spiritual/religious agenda (in other cults it is political, social or personal enhancement) that if followed, will enhance the Human Condition somewhere in the world or cosmos.
Who would fall for such appeals? Most of us, if they were made by someone we trusted, in a setting that was familiar, and especially if we had unfulfilled needs.

Much cult recruitment is done by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers and highly trained professional recruiters. They recruit not on the streets or airports, but in contexts that are "home bases" for the potential recruit; at schools, in the home, coffee houses, on the job, at sports events, lectures, churches, or drop-in dinners and free personal assessment workshops."

Dr Zimbardo I should mention is the author of the famous Zimbardo Experiment.

To my mind he touches on the most important and basic challenge a Jew faces today. The entire Religious world is one big quilt  of religious cults. So a Jew can either be totally secular or be faced with the danger of cults. This is why I always emphasize the importance of Litvak (Lithuanian) yeshivas -because I am looking for a way to be a good Jew without falling into the cults. [Obviously Reform and Conservative Judaism are not cults, but provide little guidance in the West which is characterized by two words: "Intellectual Chaos."] 

{I should mention that while I have great respect for Gedolai Litva like Reb Shmuel Berenbaum and Rav Shach, still my basic approach is more based on my parents who emphasize balance which is in fact the basic approach of the Rambam. That is to say: the path of learning Torah and cancelling everything else is  agreat path but my on path is to learn Torah {Oral and Written Law} Physics, Metaphysics as the Rambam suggested in his important book, the Guide for the Perplexed.}

On a further note, cults make their progress by redefining words to mean something different from their accurate definitions. Faith of the Torah which is Monotheism is never discussed and is avoided like the plague.  The real authentic definition of the Oral and Written Law is likewise avoided. All Jewish cults make significant changes in the definitions of words in their pretense to be teaching Torah

The average  cult owes its very existence to the fact that it has utilized the terminology of Torah, has borrowed liberally from the Zohar and the Ari (always out of context), and sprinkled its format with  cliches slogans and and terms wherever possible or advantageous. Up to now this has been a highly successful attempt to represent their respective systems of thought as “Jewish.”

I should add that there is no mystery on ho cult work. It is teh same system as false memory which works simply by a person you trust making a subtle suggestion as to what events took place and what teh meaning of those events were. The person just accepts the suggestions as facts.