7.12.2008

Chris Book: All they ever do is talk Kaballah

Madonna and Guy will only talk about Kabbalah, says her brother in his revealing book

BY CHRISTOPHER CICCONE

It's 2001 and I am waiting for my last payment from Madonna for my work on the Roxbury house - about £5,000.

I could really use the money, so when it doesn't arrive I call her assistant Caresse and ask where it is. She stalls. Within moments, she calls back. 

'Madonna will make the final payment just as long as you agree to go to Kabbalah. The next meeting is at my house on Wednesday.' I tell her I'll think about it.

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Madonna and Guy

At a Kabbalah meeting, Madonna and Guy sit on either side of the Bergs, who founded the movement

That same afternoon, Caresse sends over The Power Of Kabbalah - Technology For The Soul, by Yehuda Berg, an official publication of the Kabbalah Centre International.

On the cover, there is a quote from Madonna: 'No hocus-pocus here. Nothing to do with religious dogma. The ideas in this book are earth-shattering and yet so simple.'

I read the book and learn about Kabbalah, a mix of Judaism, Buddhism, Catholicism and a bit of old-fashioned common sense thrown in for good measure. It immediately interests me. 

I begin to think about spiritual issues I've long stopped pondering and I am curious. I also realise that I've bought into the LA scene far too much and for far too long. Besides, I know that my connection with my sister has weakened and feel that attending Kabbalah may strengthen it once more.

The following Wednesday I attend the meeting at Caresse's place - a two-storey colonial brick house, nicely landscaped, on expensive Sunset Plaza. She is only Madonna's assistant. I can hardly pay my rent, but I push all bitterness aside.

Inside are Madonna, her real estate broker, her masseuse, her costume designer, her choreographer, two assistants, her acupuncturist and her two dancers. Clearly she's involved everybody in her life with Kabbalah.

The edict that you have to belong in order to work for her hasn't yet been formalised, but I suspect it will soon be. I also know that since Kabbalah has become so integral to her existence, she sees less of people who aren't involved in it. 

We all sit down in a big circle. This meeting - and all that follow - has a particular topic, led by Eitan, our teacher. Then we all discuss it. The meeting lasts a couple of hours. Caresse serves crackers and other snacks.

Most of the time I attend meetings at Demi Moore's, Caresse's or Madonna's, and on some Friday nights I go to the LA Kabbalah Center for Shabbat. There, I am not surprised to find that Madonna and Guy are treated as if they are the uncrowned king and queen of Kabbalah.

One basic premise of Kabbalah is that no individual is entitled to anything more than he or she has earned. Yet every time I attend Shabbat, Madonna and Guy sit on either side of the Bergs, who founded the modern Kabbalah movement.

'I've been coming here for 15 years, and I've never gotten to sit next to the Bergs,' I hear one woman complaining.

Kabbalah teaches the antithesis of envy, yet I can feel the envy rippling through the people there, particularly when Guy, dressed in white robes, is regularly given the honour of carrying the Torah up to the altar. Madonna has given millions of dollars to Kabbalah.

I attend a 24-hour Kabbalah session with Madonna, Guy and Caresse in Anaheim, California. This is the first big Kabbalah event I've attended. Held in a hotel conference hall, the session starts at 7.30pm. All the men are instructed to wear white.

Madonna and Guy are seated at the top table on the dais, but sit on opposite sides of the table to conform with the rest of the male and female attendees, who, according to tradition, sit on opposite sides of the hall.

As the night proceeds, there are readings from the Torah. I follow as best as I can, but have no idea what is really going on. Even in that environment, for much of the night all eyes are on Madonna, the star of the show.

The Press may report that Guy isn't as involved in Kabbalah as Madonna, but that isn't true. In fact, Guy's world and his conversations nowadays revolve around Kabbalah.

According to our sister Melanie, who still sees Madonna and Guy regularly, they often come over for dinner, but will only talk about Kabbalah. If the conversation strays to any other topic, they lose interest.

As for Madonna, I believe that Kabbalah has given form to her nebulous world and given her a purpose. Because she is treated differently from all the other acolytes, she feels that her existence has been validated.

After all, she has an entire spiritual movement backing up her decisions. She now believes she has God on her side. Armed with that belief, she often seems to use Kabbalah as a weapon.

She's not the only one. Demi Moore and I attend a Kabbalah talk that teaches that one shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. The following morning, Demi calls me and says: 'Wasn't that a great lesson last night?'

'Really interesting,' I say. 'Well, Christopher, I need help in decorating the new house. Will you help me?'

'Of course I will.' The next morning, we meet and talk about the house but Demi doesn't mention a word about my fee. I've committed to doing the job, so I feel I have to follow through. Inside, though, I'm annoyed.

I feel as if Demi has taken the Kabbalah lesson a little too literally. So I go to IKEA, pick all the furniture for the house - all unassembled - and have the bill sent to Demi.

I feel sorry for her assistant, who is left to assemble a truckload of furniture. But I don't think Demi gets the message or the joke. She is just as friendly as ever and probably assumes that IKEA is my designer of choice.

UK MAIL

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