Rabbis fear the singer's new song is trying to cash in on a scholar's good name

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 10, 2005 08:35 AM

Never one to skirt controversy, Madonna may finally have infuriated the wrong opponent: Jewish law.

The star’s upcoming album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, won’t be released until Nov. 15, but it’s already drawing criticism from religious leaders over the dedication of one of its songs to a Kabbalist rabbi, Israel’s Maariv daily newspaper reports.

At issue is the track titled “Isaac,” about 16th century Jewish mystic and Kabbalah scholar Yitzhak Luria, according to the Associated Press.

Rabbis who oversee Luria’s tomb and a seminary in the northern town of Safed see the song as nothing but a mercenary move by Madonna – who was raised a Roman Catholic but in recent years has become a follower of Kabbalah and adopted the Hebrew name Esther.

“Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit. Her act is just simply unacceptable and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens,” Rabbi Rafael Cohen, head of a seminary named after Luria, tells the paper.

Another rabbi called for Madonna, 47, to be thrown out of the community. “Such a woman brings great sin on Kabbalah,” said Rabbi Israel Deri. “I hope that we will have the strength to prevent her from bringing sin upon the holiness of the rabbi.”

Madonna spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg did not return AP’s call for comment.