Me: So who’s making the decision?
Madonna: You are, you and your missus.
Me: About what kind of kids we want?
Madonna: You chose it. Your soul chose it.
Me: No. Do you believe that? That my insides wanted boys?
Madonna: Unconsciously. Yes.
Me: I kind of like the idea, three sons – it’s like having a little army out in the woods.
Madonna: And all the work they can do, and you can teach them carpentry and then build houses for you in Old Greenwich, or wherever you live.
I asked Madonna about Kabbalah. She looked at me as if to gauge the nature of my interest, then spoke.
“A lot of people join the group, but don’t know why,” Madonna said. “I was raised a Catholic and was never encouraged to ask questions, or understand the deeper meanings or mystical implications of the New Testament or the history of Jesus, or the fact that he was Jewish, or anything, you know? So I rejected that, because who wants to go through life being told you do things because you do things? When I started going to classes and studying [Kabbalah], I did it out of curiosity. I was told it was the mystical interpretation of the Old Testament.”
She said Kabbalah is a philosophy, a way of understanding, lessons.
“Like what?” I asked.
She said, “One is that we are all responsible for our actions, our behavior, and our words, and we must take responsibility for everything we say and do. When you get your head wrapped around that, you can no longer think of life as a series of random events – you participate in life in a way you didn’t previously. I am the architect of my destiny. I am in charge. I bring that to me, or I push that away. You can no longer blame other people for things that happened to you.
“The other is that there is order in the universe, even though it looks like chaos. We separate the world into categories: this is good and this is bad. But life is set up to trick us. It’s a series of illusions we invest in. And ultimately those investments don’t serve our understanding, because physicality is always going to let you down, because physicality doesn’t last.”
She looked out the window. Los Angeles was there, the hills studded with houses, marbled by streets and ablaze in light, rising and falling, ending at the sea. It seemed to beckon in the way of those crystalline landscapes in old Flemish religious paintings, where Jerusalem looks just like, say, Holland, not because the painter was stupid, or untraveled, or did not know, but because, when you believe, every city is Jerusalem. “You have to get to a point where you care as little about getting smoke blown up your ass as you do when you become a whipping boy in the press,” Madonna said, “because ultimately they both add up to shit. You just have to keep doing your work, and hope and pray somebody’s dialing into your frequency.”
She then said, “If your joy is derived from what society thinks of you, you’re always going to be disappointed.”
© Vanity Fair Magazine