Jewish mystics to Madonna: Lay off our sage!

‘This kind of woman wreaks an enormous sin upon the Kabbala,’ one fumes

Reuters/October 9, 2005

Jerusalem - Word that Madonna’s upcoming album includes a paean to a 16th-century Jewish mystic has prompted the rabbis who guard his legacy to accuse the pop idol of sacrilege and hint at divine punishment.

The “Confessions on a Dance Floor” collection includes a song titled “Isaac” -- in reference, entertainment media say, to Rabbi Isaac Luria, founder of the Kabbalah school of mysticism which counts Madonna, 47, as one of its devotees.

The custodians of Luria’s tomb and seminary in the northern Israeli town of Safed accused her of breaking a taboo.

“There is a prohibition in Jewish law against using the holy name of our master, the Sage Isaac, for profit,” the seminary’s director, Rabbi Rafael Cohen, told the Israeli newspaper Maariv on Sunday.

“This is an inappropriate act, and one can feel only pity at the punishment that she (Madonna) will receive from Heaven. The Sage Isaac is holy and pure, and immodest people cannot sing about him,” he said.

Catholic-born Madonna, famed for her racy lyrics and on-stage antics, has drawn frequent censure from ultra-Orthodox Jews who say her embrace of Kabbalah debases their religion.

Deemed especially provocative was Madonna’s music video for “Die Another Day”, in which she wove phylacteries around her arm, a custom usually reserved for Jewish men, before escaping from an electric chair on which Hebrew letters spelling out one of the 72 names of God appeared.

“This kind of woman wreaks an enormous sin upon the Kabbalah,” said Rabbi Yisrael Deri, caretaker of Luria’s tomb.

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