Friday, September 14, 2007

living in the spiritual world

September 14th is a special day for pilgrims to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the day when the discovery of the True Cross is celebrated. According to Jewish legend, the fact that this commemoration falls at the same time as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is not a coincidence but an attempt by the early Church to Christianize a Jewish holy day.

The most visible pilgrim in Israel today, however, is Madonna - the pop singer, that is. "Esther," the Hebrew name she has taken for herself, is attending a Kabbalah conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem along with her husband and kids, designer Donna Karan, Rosie O'Donnell and the Moore-Kutchers. She's been pushing Jewish mystical practices on her fans and friends since 1998, including selling copies of The 72 Names of God: Technology for the Soul by Kabbalah scholar Rabbi Yehuda Berg at her concerts.

Berg's Kabbalah Centre (which was quick off the mark to claim the treasured web address) has come under fire for commercializing Jewish esotericism. In mainstream Judaism only men are permitted to study these writings, and only after years of intellectual preparation. Berg fires back with the claim that the Kabbalah was written by Abraham and "predates Judaism," citing Isaac Newton and Plato as Kabbalah followers.

Living in the material world? Not this girl.

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