Do we too often Question Madonna in this space? Oh, well. Some people think she can do no wrong. But isn't the real attraction -- for more than two decades now -- to dissect exactly what it is that she does wrong, from her singing voice to her acting to her manufactured controversies to her evolving need to become a spiritual guru?
On her new CD, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," which this week will be predictably disparaged by pop critics o'er the land, she has a song called "Isaac," which has been disparaged by rabbis o'er there in Israel. The song is ostensibly about a 16th-century rabbi named Yitzhak Luria, considered the founder of the modern form of Kabbalah mysticism that Madonna has been practicing for several years. (The mysticism, not the song. Apparently.) Kabbalah followers in the Israeli town of Safed, where Luria's tomb is, have accused the singer of profiting on the rabbi's good name, which they say is a serious taboo. Rabbi Rafael Cohen, who runs a school named after Luria (um, I probably know the answer to this, but how is that different than giving the dude props on your new record?) told an Israeli newspaper: "Her act is just simply unacceptable, and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment she is going to receive from the heavens." (Oof!) And he thinks she should be expelled from the faith. Another rabbi, Israel Deri, who helps oversee Luria's tomb, didn't mince words: "Such a woman brings great sin on Kabbalah." (Ouch!)
It may be time to note that Madonna is running out of religions to offend. But these rabbis are out of luck if they think there's a curse that will stick on Miss Thing.
Guys, guys, guys: She lives for this stuff. I speak as a former altar boy here, and I still remember girls -- and a few boys, ahem -- in my Catholic high school being reminded that rosaries weren't for wearin', and that we should all be a little more than "like" virgins. And, soon enough, the Vatican denounced Madonna. (I forget why, and does it matter?) The preacher types, tone-deaf to reverse psychology, never win this one. One day, Madonna will sample a faith that cares not what she says or does, requiring of her only silence and contemplation. (Future album title: "Like a Buddah"? "Like a Cloister"?) Until then, Our Lady of Perpetual Hype wins another round.