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"First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin"

December 15, 2018


from Jan 2, 2008
by Wolfgang Eggert

After the events of 9/11, Leonard Cohen was asked if he had envisioned the catastrophe and its underlying extremist theme ahead of time.  Cohen's answer was affirmative ("First we Take Manhattan might be understood as an examination of the mind of the extremist") and conceded thereby that he had acted in the capacity of a prophet.

Principally this was nothing new for the American poet, who repeatedly during his career addressed questions concerning the end time.  For years, he had prophesied the approaching apocalypse.  With the fall of the iron curtain, this passion {of his} culminated in two of his best albums, "I'm Your Man" (1988) and "The Future" (1992).  During this time he also wrote "First we Take Manhattan."  He announced then, in spite of the enthusiastic proclamations of the end of the cold war, he foresaw a murderous intensification of global political events.  Thus, with "Democracy is coming to the USA," he announced the presently occurring de-liberalization of the United States.

All this astonishing insight lies embedded in deeply mosaic-religious intuition and subordinates itself to a sharply defined messianic (oriented) consciousness, in which "the holy (prophetic) books (at the end of the days) are opened wide."  However, it is not the customary Jewish approach which shapes Leonard Cohen's biblical-astrological world view.  It is not so much the Torah that inspires the poet, as it is the numbers-magical secret doctrine of the Cabala, which is as mysterious as it is exclusive.

Cohen confirms this.  On his web-page can be found a dissertation by Elliot Wolfson, Professor of Jewish Mysticism at NYU,  "The Shining New Jerusalem:  The Songs of Leonard Cohen as a Cabbalistic key." 

He (Wolfson) introduces his protagonist by means of a direct question:  Has he studied Cabbalism or the teachings of the keepers of his tradition--Chassidism?  Cohen, appearing modest, gives a clear answer:  "I have been deeply impressed by what I have read and by my dialogs with presently living Chassidic masters. 


Possibly no group of believers finds itself as deeply rooted in prophecy as Judaism.  No other of the world's religions is equally singular in its expectations of the yet-to-occur deliverance from heaven:  At the end of days, so goes the thread through the scripture of the Israelites, comes the Messiah.  He will gather his chosen people from exile.  He will cause peace among the people of the world.  Thus preached the rabbis throughout the world since millennia.  

Meanwhile, the synagogue is admonished to wait.  It is a waiting in which reverence and dread join hands. "May He come," pray many children of Moses about their deliverer, "but may we not live to see it," for the account of his descent is written in immeasurable masses of blood, which streams from the birth-pangs of the Messiah.

This, the conventional view of Judaism, appears to assume a position of passivity.  As they say, "Heaven will set it right."  

However, at precisely this point, the Chassidics are prepared to step onto a special path of blasphemy.  They have determined to extract from the traditions of Judaism two Messiahs, the so-called Messiah ben-David from heavenly origin, and the Messiah ben-Joseph from the earthly.  

While the concept of the Sovereign Deliverer is borne out by the traditions of the synagogues, the second Messianic figure is apparently new.  The second figure--according to the Chassidics' own explosive exegesis--supposedly has received the mandate to induce the birthing process of ben-David by transforming from prophecy into fact the end scenarios prophesied in biblical scripture.

The word "of God" is to be understood as a mandate to action.  And, naturally, Chassidism, activist and polarizing as it essentially is, has no doubt that the secret-enshrouded role of "God's executioner" has fallen to be its lot.  To accomplish this mandate, the prophetic visions (of Judaism) given millennia ago, serve as a blue-print for action.

The same tune was played by a man (at least) equal to Kook's stature, revered by the Chabad-sectarians as the living Messiah, "Rebbe" Schneerson.  Asked how the holocaust could have happened if the God of Israel reigned indeed, he answered, that there had been a rotten branch in Judaism, which had to be sawn off. (Footnote 5, p.19)

Alarmingly, Kook's and Schneerson's absurd ideology is by no means held by them only, and the reasons are:  because Chassidism succeeded early on to ensnare mainstream Judaism  with a finely meshed net because the Chassidics political culture commands over a secret-service-like infrastructure because the Chassidics conceal(ed) behind the fig leaf of devoutness, a modus operand whose strategies can only be compared to that of the infamous P2 Lodge.

The Jewish Virtual Library writes:

"The infrastructure of the Lubawitsch movement since the death of the "Rebbe" (1994) increased by another 30 percent and has established itself as a Jewish global player."  Over 3,700 associate emissaries labor world-wide in about 100 countries.  Since 1995 more than 400 schlichim (emissaries) were dispatched and over 500 new Chabad institutions were added, which brings the total number of facilities to nearly 2,600 (seminaries, day-camps, schools, etc.).  (Footnote 6, p.20)

With that, the sect is the largest Jewish institution world-wide.

The "Jerusalem Post" sees the Chabad sect as

"...a strong power," " a movement of monumental significance."  "Chabad is," continues Israel's most important daily news paper, "an organization which commands immense financial resources world-wide (the budget for Russia alone is $20 million per year).  Their rabbis instruct Jewish congregations in a surprisingly large number of countries.  (Footnote 7, p.20) 

And that, above all, is true for Israel.  The interaction between the Chassidics and the Israel national movement is tight.  US-Israeli history professor Robert Wolfe writes in his essay
"Zionism as Judaism"

Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at