Britney’s big fat kabbalah wedding

By Maralyn Lois Polak

I see where Britney Spears is planning a Kabbalah wedding. This is actually being trumpeted as “the first celebrity Kabbalah ceremony.” They’re saying she may even get married under a chuppah (canopy) which probably means she’ll also have the ritual smashing of the glass – the whole schmear.

What chutzpah! Her Baptist mom nearly plotzed!

Just think, Britney’s going to waste this sacred ancient mystical wisdom on marrying that – shudder – schtunk?

Sorry, I guess I’m a little late noticing, but I hate to see Kabbalah taken over by Celebrity Trendoids. Way back, Kabbalah’s sacred mysteries once “belonged” to the Jews – namely, Jewish male patriarchs over 40, the only ones originally permitted to study it. Which wasn’t an ideal situation, of course, but after centuries, Kabbalah was finally becoming more democratized. Even secular Jewish seekers eventually realized the Kabbalah contained wisdom evocative of, yes, Zen and other esoteric practices.

And so, in the late 20th century, I briefly studied Kabbalah myself.

Our teacher was the brilliant brunette “Polly,” a tattooed, dyed, pierced physics assistant at a local university. Classes met at the Jewish ‘Y’. Besides possessing a dry wit and an endearing penchant for paradox, “Polly” was deep into the technological side of computers before anyone else. She was definitely an “edge” person, and I adored her. That few weeks’ exposure to Kabbalah – and its mysterious meditative, mystical, numerological and devotional practices – left me wanting more, much more.

You cannot begin to convince me Britney and her ilk have achieved mastery of the intricacies of the Sefiroth and other Kabbalah esoterica.

“What they are embracing is not Kabbalistic esoteric Judaism by any real definition,” “Polly” e-mails me. “They’re like members of a cargo cult – they’re embracing the form but not the substance. Much like that other group of people who co-opted exoteric Judaism and stripped it of its intelligence and necessary elitism, Christians. But hey, all of the sudden Jews are cool again. Best thing since Dylan.”

Actually, traditional Kabbalah isn’t “a cult religion,” as sensational media reports allege, but part of the holy literature and lore of classical Judaism. No need to tabloidize it. Guru Net defines Kabbalah as “a body of mystical teachings of rabbinical origin, often based on an esoteric interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Or, a secret doctrine resembling these teachings.”

However …

“Kabbalah, as it’s sold in Hollywood, offers the perfect fast-food salvation for the likes of Britney Spears and her evolving mentor, the mother of perpetual self-indulgence, Madonna” says Mark Ebner, savvy co-author of the blockbuster, “HOLLYWOOD INTERRUPTED: Insanity Chic in Babylon – The Case Against Celebrity,” available right now from WND’s online store. “What with their busy schedules, they can simply run their hands over the Zohar, Kabbalah’s ‘sacred’ text, for the ancient secrets, and … keep that soft jewelry – the omnipresent red string – in vogue for another five minutes. We can only expect the likes of Spears to put as much thought into her spiritual life as she puts into the equally weighty subject of matrimony.”

This is how it begins. Re-packaging a spiritual tradition as another Hollywood fad. First Roseanne, Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Courtney Love, Demi Moore, droves of others including Elizabeth Taylor, and then Britney’s circusy wedding. Soon QVC will be hawking the half-price Kabbalah video, the Sefiroth electronic pinball game, the 72-Names-of-God T-shirt.

It’s even worse than I imagine.

Mark Ebner sends me this “product description” from Target for “Kabbalah Red String”:

A centuries-old spiritual tool used by Kabbalists, this red string is believed to protect against the evil eye, a negative energy source. What makes this particular piece of string so special is, in part, the fact that it has traveled to Israel, to the ancient tomb of Rachel the Matriarch, and returned, imbued with the essence of protection.

The string is tied to the left wrist – the left being the body and soul’s receiving side – and worn to essentially deflect the negative energy brought forth by unfriendly and envious stares, unkind glances and looks of ill will. A feeling we’ve all experienced, the evil eye is considered by Kabbalah to be a powerful force and an influential factor in achieving goals and everyday well-being.

The string draws upon the connection to, and awareness of Rachel and must be tied on by a loved one and sealed with Rachel’s protective energy by reciting the Ben Porat prayer, included on a card …

Here’s the kicker: “Sorry. This item is temporarily unavailable.”