Celebs Buy Into Kabbalah

It appears that Britney Spears, Madonna, and Paris Hilton are now Jewish. Well actually, they are just “believers” in Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism. I don’t strictly follow a religion myself, but if I did I’d probably think long and hard before choosing one. Of course, I also wouldn’t get married and divorced in the same day, then tie the knot again a month later.

Due to her chronic style changes both in appearance and lifestyle, most people have ceased to take Madonna’s chameleon persona seriously. Yet it might be possible that Madonna has finally stumbled over something quite unique; perhaps the material girl has found some substance.

It is said that as her engagement present to Britney, Madonna gave her a very rare and expensive Hebrew text. The book, called the Zohar or the Book of Splendour, costs thousands of pounds and explains the secrets of life, philosophy and numerology. Like many others I have talked to, I am also annoyed by the foolish media cries of celebrities such as Madonna, Britney and Paris who merely start “believing” in Kabbalah, Buddhism, or whatever else they perceive to be the flava of the month religion. True, I can’t really assume that these frequently stalked celebs aren’t in fact deeply involved in their new religion. I would however bet my stakes on their daily commitments being 99 percent to Louis Vuitton, and one percent to the Torah.

According to this form of Jewish mysticism, followers should “avoid receiving gifts or indulging in material goods.” Ironically enough, The Kabbalah Centre, which can also be referred to as the centre of religious pop-culture, “sells a variety of merchandise, including water for $3.50 and red strings for $26-$36. The water is supposedly full of holy energy and the string is supposed to bring children to the infertile and protection from the evil eye” (www.tienmao.com).
I can only ponder how long it will be before Paris and the Kabbalah Centre merge to create a Hilton/Kabbalah empire.

Kabbalah emphasizes our responsibility over finding our true and inner self, the one that is uniquely and solely ours. It is founded upon the concept that we always have the option to choose and that our fate is the consequence of the choices we make. Rich in spiritual and historical value, it appears that the once meaningful and inspirational Kabbalah has been massacred by Hollywood. Sadly, the instantaneous popularity of something as significant as religion can only mean that its authenticity has been unfairly tampered with. The Kabbalah is meant to be studied and followed, not worn as an accessory.

So my doubts of Kabbalah remain as I further explore the background of this complex Jewish heritage, finding resources pertaining to modern popularized forms of the worship. I think a religion is selling itself cheap if it qualifies all people indiscriminately (even those that don’t actually study the history or traditions of the religion at all).

In a Newsweek interview with Britney Spears, the “toxic” celebrity said “I am very into middle eastern religions right now.” The journalist asked if she had explored Buddhism and Hinduism, and Britney replied, “Is that a form of Kabbalah, or something?” Spears is spotted only weeks later with a red string around her wrist, and the word Kabbalah (written in Hebrew) appears on the army-print purses given to her bridesmaids at her late-night marriage ceremony.

Even so, it is quite touching to see Madonna in war-torn Israel over the Jewish New Year, a move which many people would consider very gutsy. The issues surrounding the avid popularity of Kabbalah go much further than the star gossip of Manhattan and Beverly Hills. Inadvertently, the commotion being made in reaction to the bold religious “conversions” made by both Britney and Madonna have indeed caused a considerable uproar in religious communities worldwide. Moreover, the celebrity’s adoption of the Jewish faith brings about thoughts on Judaism, and draws to the surface a daunting question: what kind of impact is this whole controversy going to have on anti-Semitism?

“Providing individuals of all faiths a better & higher understanding of the world and the wisdom to change accordingly.” (Kabala.org) Maybe these celebrities really are looking for change…a change in how they want to be viewed by others. It seems for Britney and Madonna, Kabbalah is just another ruthless attempt to gain some sense of control over their own lives; a sad but true reality for such high profile women.