Kabbalah is a Hebrew word meaning “tradition” or “that which is received.” According to Kabbalah. com, followers of Kabbalah today say it is not a religion, but it is about improving one’s life from a spiritual point of view. Although it stems from Jewish mysticism, its spiritual power is universal and is intended for all humankind.
The site states Kabbalah is a philosophical theology based on the belief that every word, letter, number and accent of the Torah contains keys to understanding the nature of the universe and the human soul. Much of Kabbalah is based on the writings of a text called the Zohar — or the Book of Splendor — a mystical, multivolume commentary on the Torah.
According to Naomi Mazer, associate director of London Jewish Campus Services, Kabbalah is something within the Jewish faith that signifies a sense of establishment and is therefore usually practiced by older men.
Ever since Madonna made it public that she is a follower of Kabbalah,, many celebs have been scrambling to snatch up the red Kabbalah string that wards off the evil eye. According to Dan Nephin of the Associated Press, “The practice of wearing the red string is said to have grown from a tradition of winding a red string around the stone marker over the West Bank tomb of Rachel, a Jewish matriarch, while reciting Hebrew prayers. The string was then cut into braceletsize lengths and worn as a symbolic request for spiritual and physical protection and blessings.”
The red string is worn on the left wrist, the receiving side of the body and soul, sealing protective energy within while intercepting negative influences that exist outside of the body. Mazer explained the left arm vein connects to the heart and when the string falls off, the wearer’s dreams come true.
Many true Kabbalists argue that celebs who sport these bracelets are just trying to make fashion statements and are not aware of the deep traditions that hold up Kabbalah.
Jodi Katzeff, president of Hillel, said that the celebrities who have made Kabbalah famous by wearing the red strings are making a mockery of something sacred to the Jewish religion. “I think it’s offensive; it’s taking almost all of the sacredness out of it.”
Of these celebs Mazer said, “First of all, they’re not Jewish. I find it inappropriate, as does most of Israeli society.” She added that Madonna was not very wellreceived upon a visit to Israel.
“I don’t know if they’re studying a true form of Kabbalah, I’d be curious to know,” Mazer continued. “What Madonna represents is not what I want representing my religion.”
While celebrity influence may not be exactly the publicity that the Kabbalah faith is looking for, it can’t be denied that awareness about this religion has risen drastically. Madonna and company have brought Kabbalah into the spotlight and potentially enlightened many fellow North Americanslooking for something to believe in.
The question is, does this new
celebrity angle on Kabbalah help
to bring us out of the commercialism
that dominates our culture, or
is it dragging an ancient religion
down with us?
—with files from Liz Culotti