Madonna’s upcoming pilgrimage to Israel for a Kabbalah spiritual retreat has raised questions over the nature of her faith – has the self-proclaimed Material Girl really embraced the traditions of ancient Jewish mysticism or is this simply the latest glitterati self-help fad?
In a bid to shed something of her former raunchy image, the US pop diva in 1997 began looking into Kabbalah – or at least a modern version of it – rapidly becoming one of its most high-profile faces.
Symbols of Madonna’s deepening “faith” are readily apparent – religious Jewish symbols and Hebrew letters feature in many of her more recent pop videos and she is rarely seen without the trademark red string around her wrist to ward off the evil eye.
Two months ago, she changed her name to Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath.
Madonna’s conversion arrived after she came into contact with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre which, according to its website, offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualisation and positive thinking.
Through meditation on the “cosmic energy” emitted by the Hebrew alphabet, the site says, adherents can gain “inner peace, financial prosperity, power and pleasure”, amongst other things.
Despite its obvious Jewish character, this westernised version of Kabbalah has attracted a panoply of non-Jewish celebrities, such as Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger.
And now Madonna’s spiritual odyssey looks set to bring her and several thousand others to Israel in mid-September over the Jewish New Year.
Not everyone is happy with Madge’s attachment to Jewish mysticism, with religious scholars at pains to point out that this ‘popularised’ version of Kabbalah is a far cry from the Orthodox spirituality prescribed by the sages of old.
An esoteric offshoot of Judaism, Kabbalah’s origins can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries when its central text, the Zohar, was penned.
Taught only to a select few – namely, pious Jewish males over the age of 40 who had spent a lifetime immersed in the study of Hebrew texts – study of Kabbalah required arduous meditation and a strictly ascetic lifestyle.
Little wonder then that the Kabbalah Centre’s scented candles for banishing depression or improving your sex life, not to mention its specially-blessed Kabbalah spring water, has been greeted with ill-disguised contempt by many Orthodox Jews.
If the 45-year-old singer was hoping to use her upcoming visit to Israel to swap notes with Rabbi Yitzhak Keduri, one of Israel’s most venerated adherents of Kabbalah, she is set to be disappointed.
“I don’t know her, I don’t know of her and I won’t see her,” Keduri told the Maariv daily recently, pointing out that the study of Kabbalah was not open to women nor to non-Jews.
“Kabbalah is an added mystical tier to Judaism which comes after there is a total acceptance of a religious lifestyle and a religious value system,” Rabbi Shlomo Rifkin told AFP.
The traditional idea is that anyone studying Kabbalah must first be a mature, practising Jew, explained Rifkin, chief rabbi of the Efrat settlement in the southern West Bank.
“Maturity is important because some people can get wrapped up in the esoteric spirituality which can sometimes be cheapened into general love fests, or debauchery,” he warned.
“In the Hollywood sense, the people who are accepting Kabbalah with such alacrity, such as Madonna, are taking many of the mystical concepts but not necessarily the unique lifestyle.”
Jerusalem-based rabbi Yehoshua Engelman believes the upsurge in popularity of Kabbalah is part of a growing interest across the globe in the deeper meaning of life.
“Just as in the past 30 or 40 years, Buddhism and other religions have become popularised, so a similar thing has happened with Sufism and Kabbalah,” Engelman said.
“People are looking for a greater depth and spirituality than they were a hundred years ago. I imagine Madonna is searching for something meaningful in life and that search has to be encouraged.”
But Rifkin is not convinced.
“As an actress and a singer, if the quality of her shows has changed fundamentally since she’s found Kabbalah, and if sex is not paraded publicly then I would say it’s positive,” he surmised.
“If it hasn’t influenced these things, then it’s just a Hollywood fad that is meaningless in terms of Judaism.”
source : theage.com.au
A string of A-list celebrities including Tom Cruise, Madonna and Brad Pitt are flying to the Greek capital Athens ahead of the opening ceremony of the Olympics this Friday.
The list includes Angelina Jolie, a pregnant Julia Roberts, David and Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears, Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and members of the British Royal Family.
Hollywood stars Roberts and Nicholson have rented villas about 35 miles from Athens, whereas soccer star Beckham and his ex-Spice Girls wife have already booked a suite aboard the Queen Mary II – the world’s most luxurious cruise ship – which will dock at the city’s Piraeus port.
Spears, her fiance, and twelve of her pals have also taken to the water – renting a luxury yacht to cruise around the Greek Islands.
Pop queen Madonna has also booked a yacht and villa in the area.
However these high profile guests will add more pressure to the already stretched security budget.
The Greek government have already spent three times more on security than organisers of the last games in Sydney, Australia four years ago – with the bill already exceeding a massive $900 million.
source : wkkj.com
Pop queen Madonna’s latest fad is downing pints of Guninness before her live Re-Invention concerts.
The Material Girl has embraced many aspects of British and Irish culture since moving to England with husband Guy Ritchie and has developed a penchant for the dark stout.
A close source says, “She finds it perks her up for a live performance and gives her an extra edge. She has to have it in a proper pint glass and chilled to exactly the right temperature before she will drink it. She’s even got some of her crew on the same ritual. They all swear by it.”
The Kabbalah-loving megastar also insists on praying for 30 minutes to aid her performance.
source : contact music
Madonna has reportedly demanded a special “peace room” to be built for her backstage at her upcoming UK gigs.
She wants a soundproof area where she can medidate and go into a trance before going on stage, according to The Sun.
The 45-year-old superstar is a devotee of the mystical Jewish Kabbalah religion.
The paper says the walls of the room must be draped in green sheeting and have soft cushions on the floor.
It quotes “an insider” as saying: “She doesn’t want to hear a pin drop and it needs to be green – the colour most conducive to medidation.
“She calls it her peace room.”
The room is reportedly being set up at the Manchester Evening News Arena, where Madonna plays two concerts this weekend.
She also has six other dates on her British tour.
source : sky.com
LENNY Kravitz has been named Hollywood’s biggest heartbreaker.
The 40-year-old topped the poll after being linked to a string of celebrity beauties, including Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Vanessa Paradis and Naomi Campbell.
Readers of US In Touch voted hotel heiress Paris Hilton in second place, reports the Daily Star.
But Kravitz, who has a failed marriage to actor Lisa Bonet, claims he just wants to settle down again.
“I think it will come, it’s something I want,” he said.
Friends star Matthew Perry came third with actror Jennifer Love Hewitt fourth and George Clooney fifth.
source : heraldsun.news.com
Pop queen Madonna intends to embark upon a spiritual journey to Israel to rejuvenate her spirits and absorb positive energy from the ‘upper world’.
According to The Sun, after her re-invention tour ends in Europe, the diva will accompany her husband, two children and other followers of the Kabbalah religion on the ‘Energy tour’, which starts in September, the holiest month in the Jewish calendar.
Staunch followers of the religion believe that the pilgrimage enables followers to undo their past misdeeds and begin afresh in life.
source : ANI
…Chicken pox delays Christian Slater’s British stage debut, as Madonna/Esther/Material girl is doling out the cash (21.6 million) for a Kabbalah primary school (K school for short), where students will be taught “mysticism,” “enlightenment,” and oh, almost forgot, that silly incidental: grammar. Funny, as hard as it was for me to imagine Madonna in the Holy Land, it is even harder for me to embrace her newfound peace and vision, when this new wave of “enlightenment” has poster children like Britney Spears to herald its purity and power. Then there are role models like Madonna, who still kisses women onstage and has veritable cursing matches with her dancers during rehearsal. I know it’s a funny concept, but perhaps if you wish for true “enlightenment” or the “mysticism” of the Kabbalah, you might start studying, reading, or going to a real temple, rather than trying to search for answers in hypocritical icons past their prime of persuasion…
It seems that all’s not well between Madonna and her filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie. According to reports Madonna’s success has become the cause of discord between the couple.
In a desperate bid to save her marriage Madonna also tried to conceive through a high tech in vitro process but failed in the attempt.
“Guy’s been accusing Madonna of cheating while she’s on tour, and despite her assurances that she’s not, it seems he’s convinced himself that she is,” a source close to the couple was quoted by The National Enquirer as saying.
“The truth is Madonna isn’t cheating on Guy, and she’s probably fed up with dealing with his insecurities,” he added.
source : ANI