Madonna and her entourage splashed into Israel for two shows, but leading Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri expressed sorrow that Israelis put out the red carpet for the non-Jewish star who dabbles in Kabbalah. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader Tzipi Livni are among those who will meet Madonna, a Roman Catholic who has adopted the Jewish name “Esther.”
On Sunday, she toured the Western Wall Tunnel, which reveals the history and the geography of the Temple Mount site and its Jewish past, which much of the Muslim world increasingly denies.
Kabbalah refers to spiritually deep understanding in Judaism, and even Jews are discouraged from studying it until they are deemed mature enough to handle the subject. Jewish law also forbids men from hearing a woman sing. Therefore, Madonna’s concert appearances in Israel are against Jewish law, said Rabbi Batzri, head of the Shalom Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
“No one can study Torah unless he or she is converting to Judaism," he explained to Arutz-7's Hebrew news site. Madonna’s ostensible plunge into Kabbalah several years has been widely condemned by Torah scholars. Rabbi Batzri said Sunday, however, “There is no connection between what the singer learns and true Kabbalah. The foundations of Kabbalah are the Tree of Life…that no one can learn without abstention.”
He added that learning Jewish mysticism is a spiritual path towards “practical Kabbalah” and that learning it means one must act against certain natural instincts. Madonna’s performances are stacked with sexual innuendoes; her private appearance for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, two years ago was met with disgust by rabbis and Jewish thinkers.
The trend of Hollywood stars inquiring into Kabbalah is rooted in the common phenomena of the entertainment industry as “a place of iniquity and lasciviousness,” Rabbi Batzri said after her arrival in 2007. He explained that the sordid lifestyle of many Hollywood stars makes them “naturally attracted to the holiness of Kabbalah” in order to find a purer way of life.
Madonna unsuccessfully tried to contact Rabbi Batzri several years ago while on a tour in Israel.
However, the rabbi also looked at the positive side of the trendy would-be Kabbalists. He said that even a cursory and surface look at Kabbalah gives people “energy for life” and that many non-observant Jews leave the institutes that capitalize on the trend. “They often then look for a true way to Judaism.”