You've heard that the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is smitten with Madonna and that she might have brainwashed him with Kabbalah. Many tabloids ran stories like that. But there's one thing they haven't addressed: What is Kabbalah?
I'll tell you. Rather, Cheryl Glover, 55, of Middletown and Steve Noonan, 26, of Boonton will tell you. Glover's been a Kabbalist for 20 years and is the author of "Creating From the Soul." Noonan runs The North Jersey Gnostic Group, which meets in Rockaway Township.
"If you're a Kabbalist you're receiving God," Noonan said. "You're doing what you can to receive, to become a receptacle of God -- the vehicle, basically."
Glover described Kabbalah as the esoteric and spiritual side of Judaism.
"What they usually say is Judaism is the 'how' and Kabbalah is the 'why,'" she said. "And because it's the why, it opens it up to people who aren't Jewish. It's not really a religion so much as it is a spiritual practice."
An important part of Kabbalah relates to language.
"The word (God) and especially the holy names of God have an impact on our world," she said. "Anything that you speak has an impact, so it's very much into the beliefs of the power of the words that you speak."
Negative words will create a gloomy world around you while positive ones will make your existence happier, so to speak.
"As you think, so you create the world," Glover said, later adding, "Whatever you are putting out you will attract back."
Kabbalah is about receiving, specifically the divine light, and your duty is to receive in order to give.
"So compassion and charity and whatever it is you're giving the world is important," Glover said. "If you're receiving gifts from the light, the Creator, you should be giving."
Now, what does all this have to do with A-Rod and Madonna? Glover said Kabbalah teaches that there is a soul connection in each and every person, and that soul connection extends past lifetimes. It extends to the thought that we are really all one soul.
She said it would be fine if a soul connection is what A-Rod and Madonna indeed had. That doesn't necessarily mean there was a physical consummation of the relationship.
"What they are is they're opening up to God and there's a feeling there they've never felt before," Glover said, in general, of Kabbalists. "The only thing close is falling in love. Sometimes people misplace that energy thinking it's about a person when it's really about God."
Aha! A-Rod found true enlightenment through Kabbalah and thinks he's fallen in love with Madonna because she showed him the path!
Glover and Noonan both said they didn't know if that's the case with A-Rod because -- and they're right -- they don't know him or Madonna.
Noonan said he wasn't sure if Madonna was practicing true Kabbalah.
"I don't know how she can reconcile her life according to what the teachings state," Noonan said, adding that he really wasn't trying to judge her, and I believe him.
"Most people think that the religion -- really any esoteric wisdom -- really has very strict standards of purity," he said. "You have to be totally pure and totally cleansed."
When you think of being pure and cleansed, the name Madonna doesn't exactly leap to mind. Maybe Madonna's more of a Kabbalist in name than in practice because it sounds trendy? I really don't know.
As for A-Rod, there's nothing mystical there -- especially in the post-season. He's one of many professional athletes who caved to temptations of female flesh on the road while his wife was home with the kids.
Matt Manochio can be reached at (973) 428-6627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.