Very great episode, possibly your best. The Unetaneh Tokef prayer, recited on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, does take a hopeful turn in its last stanza -- "But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severity of the decree." (Sefaria translation)

The 1973 war did permanently change Israeli society in multiple ways that very much echo today. It discredited the secular Ashkenazi elite that had founded and guided the yishuv and state from the 1930s. A few years later, in 1977, Begin was elected, marking the end of the secular socialist ethos of the early decades. Israeli society split in multiple directions in response to the war: some became peaceniks, founding Peace Now; some became settlers in the captured territories, seeking to expand and hold the "accidental empire" from 1967; yet others moved toward ultraorthodoxy, pushing aside Zionism in favor of a return to the ghetto. Yossi Klein Halevi (a real interview candidate!) has written extensively about it.

Cohen was raised in the famous traditional community of Montreal, but left it for good in the 1950s. He wrestled with it for the rest of his life, and it shows. 1973 was clearly one of great turning points in his long life and career.

I first really discovered Cohen because of Suzanne Vega, a long-time fan, although I was vaguely aware of his songs beforehand. The original Who By Fire has Janis Ian as the backing female voice, I believe.

Expand full comment

The Israelis got a bloody nose in 73, well deserved . Hubris followed the 67 war and had to end. We in America are suffering from similar hubris after our victory in Cold War.We are now due to learn humility.

Expand full comment