Leonard Cohen On The Influence Of The Kabbalah On His Songs

Elliot: I am a professor of Jewish mysticism at NYU, and on Oct. 18th [2001] I will be delivering a lecture at McGill entitled “New Jerusalem Glowing: The Songs of Leonard Cohen in a Kabbalistic Key.” I would like to take this unique opportunity to ask Mr. Cohen directly if he has studied kabbalah or hasidism, and if so, he acknowledges a direct influence on his work.

Dear Professor Wolfson, Thank you for studying my lyrics in relation to the kabbalah. I have a very superficial knowledge of the matter but even by dipping into the many books, I have been deeply touched by what I read, and by my conversations with living Hasidic masters. The model of the Tree of Life and the activities and interactions of the sephirot has been especially influential. The idea of the in-breath to clear a space for the whole manifestation and the out-breath as the place of the manifestation, has of course been illumined by my studies with Roshi and his instructions in zen meditation. Please give my regards to the folks at McGill.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From the Sony 2001 online chat. Thanks to Tom Sakic, who alerted me to this.