Madonna may be obsessed with the ancient Jewish belief of Kabbalah but we can reveal that her in-laws don't share the material girl's devotion to the mystical faith.
John Ritchie, father of Madge's husband, film director Guy Ritchie, who is also a Kabbalah enthusiast, has told us he thinks the 4,000-year-old philosophy is a "cult" which can be very dominating in life. "I'm not sure about Kabbalah, " he said at last week's London launch of Sea Change, Ian Dickens's sailing memoirs. "At 74, I'm too old to become involved in a cult. I think life is for living and that you don't need to add any extra adjectives to explain how to do that. You should just get on with it." Queen of pop Madonna, 44, is so dedicated to the philosophy that she and Guy recently donated GBP 3.65 million to help buy a former office in London's West End to serve as the London Kabbalah Centre.
Kabbalah - Hebrew for "received tradition" - is based on the ancient writings of Jewish rabbis and has a string of celebrity devotees including Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger and Demi Moore. Converts say the faith offers a broad-based understanding of life which helps them deal with everything from family relationships to a bad press.
Madonna has called the faith "very punk rock" and wears a Kabbalist red thread known as "Rachel's string" on her wrist to ward off negative energies.
She has converted Guy and has also taken daughter Lourdes to classes, which Madonna has attended for six years. And, as we revealed last week, she has allegedly ordered friends to address her as Esther, which is her Jewish name.
But former advertising executive John does not use this name - and won't be joining in any family readings. "I'm not interested in it, " he says. "I can't criticise them for their interest but it's just not for me."