Because 2016 continues in some ways to be a dumpster fire of a year, yesterday we lost singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.
Famously, Cohen wrote constantly about Jewish themes in his work, from “Who By Fire” inspired by Unetaneh Tokef, and “Hallelujah” containing Biblical imagery pertaining to King David (such naches from the most over-covered song of all time).
Cohen, who was 82, had been speaking frankly lately about his own mortality, and he left us with a life and career fully culminated. In his final album, You Want it Darker, he even quotes the Kaddish. But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard traditional prayer from Cohen.
Cohen’s final performance in Israel was in 2009, a concert in Ramat Gan. Proceeds went to bereaved families on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as the concert closed, Cohen addressed them, offering them comfort, and then a prayer.
The last name was no coincidence, of course, Cohen himself was a Kohen, and he stretched his hands out towards the audience in the traditional gesture and made the priestly blessing. It translates as:
The Lord bless you and protect you. The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you. The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace.
Like a benevolent folk rock zeyde, Cohen leaves us at a tough time for many of us, but with a reservoir of comfort that we really need. We have his astounding career and body of work, and you can receive your blessing of peace from him below:
Image by Takahiro Kyono via Flickr.