Losing Madonna’s Religion
British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, estranged husband of pop star Madonna, recently distanced himself from her Kabbalah religious beliefs.
“Mr. Madonna,” who is currently embroiled in a messy divorce proceeding with his wife of seven years, is producing a documentary about Kabbalah.
Few people had ever heard of the obscure Jewish mystical tradition until Madonna and other Hollywood celebs became devotees of the Los Angeles Kabbalah Center a few years ago.
“I don’t really understand Kabbalah as a religion or a belief system,” Ritchie told an interviewer from Extra magazine while discussing the upcoming documentary and his own thoughts about Kabbalah.
Added Ritchie, “I don’t think it’s a religion as far as I’m aware.”
Ritchie’s dismissive remarks about Kabbalah stand in sharp contrast to earlier in his marriage, when he often accompanied her during visits to Kabbalah centers.
According to some Jewish rabbis, it’s not fair to judge Kabbalah on the basis of the version that’s marketed to the Hollywood stars who frequent the Los Angeles Kabbalah Center.
Critics of the center and of its driving force, Rabbi Yehuda Berg, told USA Today in this May 2004 article that Berg’s school of Kabbalah is mostly a way to make money through the sale of Kabbalah merchandise like “empowered” stones and $26 red string bracelets that supposedly deflect “envious stares and looks of ill will.”
“Simple answers don’t grow souls. Red threads and magic bottles of water don’t change the world and don’t change people,” commented Los Angeles Rabbi David Wolpe. “To the extent that deep spiritual truths are put in a blender and served as superficial pablum — it’s a disservice to a great tradition, and it is no better than spiritual snake oil.”
— Tom McFeely