“Reb, I am getting ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. I have some questions for you.” Leonard Cohen’s Rabbi Talks About Their Relationship

Being Leonard Cohen’s rabbi by Rabbi Mordecai Finley (Jewish Journal: Nov. 16, 2016) is a wonderful account of the long relationship between Rabbi Mordecai Finley and Leonard Cohen, as well as Anjani and others. I’ve excerpted a couple of paragraphs but do yourself a service and read the full account at the link.

Anjani and Leonard also started attending my Monday night classes, Jewish spiritual psychology dharma talks. I taught Mussar, gave talks on Chasidut and led meditations. I did not know yet that Leonard was a Buddhist monk. I probably would have been self-conscious leading meditations in front of him had I known. He would sit in the front row, shoes off, in his signature suit, tie and fedora, eyes closed, listening, radiant.

Let me tell you how generous Leonard was. First, after I knew him about a year, he gave me one of his fedoras, right off of his head. Second, when our synagogue was scraping bottom during a brutal remodeling of the dilapidated building we bought, Leonard (with several other families) came to the rescue. He was very generous (always handed his checks in person) and appreciative of the work my wife (the designer and general contractor) was doing. On one of this visits to the building, he spent a full afternoon with Meirav. He delighted in everything we had done, especially the café and the preschool. He visited with the kids in the pre-kindergarten. (The teachers almost fainted.) Got some of the lentil soup that he loved — he liked to call it “Jacob’s stew.”

Photo atop post by Maarten Massa

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Nov 17, 2016.

3 thoughts on ““Reb, I am getting ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. I have some questions for you.” Leonard Cohen’s Rabbi Talks About Their Relationship

  1. An essential read, Allan. Good to see it reposted! I add my voice to your injunction to read the entire piece. Leonard and his friend Rabbi Mordecai Finley had very deep discussions on Kabbalah, and any serious investigation into the heart of Cohen’s spiritual life must include his personal direct experiences that were evoked through that tradition. Leonard was particularly drawn to the teaching of Isaac Luria (1534–1572, whose symbolism of the shattered vessels figures so strongly in his poetry and song.

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