Sunday, September 19, 2004

Madonna Madness

The papers and the local electronic media are replete with reports about Madonna's trip to the Holy Land, not to mention the massive convention of Phillip Berg's Center for Kabbalah. Frankly, the whole business has me bemused. Of course, IMHO, Berg is a charlatan. (For more information, see Rick Ross' website.) In addition,.if the papers are to be believed, the goings on at the Center are not just balderdash, they're idolatry too. According to Maariv, the services include praying to R. Simon bar Yohai. (I"m sure he's thrilled).

But never mind about all that. I"m fascinated by the draw that Kabbalah has on so many people. Of course, I'm perfectly aware that this is not an unprecedented development. The sixteenth century witnessed intensive Christian interest in Jewish Mysticism. Among the Christian scholars involved were the cream of Renaissance era thinkers like Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola anmd Johannes Reuchlin. They, however, were drawn to Kabbalah because they believed it proved the truths of Christianity and would help convince Jews to convert.

This does not appear to be the case here. Interest in Kabbalah seems to be related to the collapse of modernity and faith in human reason. In addition, it appears to involve a genuine interest in Judaism by not a few people. Whatever the case, if Madonna is doing something so outlandish as to make tourism spots for Israel, thee must be some Providential piece to all of this.

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