Exhuming Bob X: Lubavitcher Bob
June 25, 2008
Exhuming Bob X:
There’s something happening here
But you don’t know what it is,
Do you, Mr. Jones?
In 1979 Bob publicly embraced Jesus as his personal savior. This was widely seen as a conversion to Christianity because Bob went to the Vineyard Fellowship of Tarzana for indoctrination into the Christian mysteries. He could hardly have learned Christianity from Jewish circles although the Jewish group of Jews For Jesus was already active. Pharasaic Jews have always despised Jews For Jesus so that may not have been a viable option for Bob.
While non-Jews may be scandalized by the concept of Jews embracing Jesus there is no reason for them to be astounded. After all Jesus was a Jew, preaching to Jews in the Jewish tradition. The early Christian movement was entirely Jewish. They were Jews of the Jews who had accepted Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Christianity became a universal religion only after Paul reconstructed it shedding the practices most repellent to gentiles while the Hellennic or Greek religion and philosophy was grafted onto the religion which gave it substance and intellectual vigor displacing Semitic stultification.
There should be little wonder then that Jewish Christianity should resurface two thousand years later with Bob as its Messiah.
Bob was uniquely trained for the role. He grew up in a Christian community dominated by the Hillbilly music on the radio with a large and active Jewish congregation. His father thought of himself as a Jewish scholar while heading the local chapter of B’nai B’rith and ADL. His father was covertly ultra-orthodox.
In 1990 Bob wrote a letter to the editor of a publication called Sister2Sister. (Bob’s Unshakeable Monotheism, Part IV, Scott Marshall http://www.jewsweek.com/ ) in which he said:
…until the entire world believes and obeys the same God, there can be no truth or justice or peace for anyone.
What that means in the age old Jewish notion that as God’s chosen people they are destined to bring their vision of God to all the peoples of the Earth at which time they will become a nation of priests, the rulers and overseers of all others. The Supreme People placed between God and humanity as demi-gods.
The notion did not necessarily occur to Bob in 1990 but was placed in his mind at a much earlier date. It would always have been present in the synagogue. Anyone who has ever attended Jewish services will be be struck by the insistence that Jews are to rule the world and all the peoples. It is the duty of every Jew to further that work.
Whether Bob had the Messianic impulse before his Bar Mitzvah is the question. It may have been there in embryo. In 1954 as Bob was about to turn thirteen his father, Abraham, who obviously believed the proper religious education was lacking in Hibbing sent for a Lubavitcher Rebbe from Brooklyn to come to Hibbing specifically to indoctrinate Bob in the more recondite lore of the ultra-orthodox. The intensity of the instruction would be virtual hypnosis. It was at this point, I believe, that the Messianic impulse was fixed in Bob’s mind.
The indoctrination had devastating results for the young boy’s character and personality. He went off the rails becoming wild and dissolute. In searching for a means to spread the message he had received he hit on music and from there it led into folk music. Folk music had a special appeal because it was a pure expression of the dominant culture. If one subverted folk music one subverted the culture.
Thus after being initiated into folk at Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota Bob left for the Big Apple, New York City. The Folk scene of Greenwhich Village in New York was a virtual Jewish enclave or colony. A great many Jews were already doing what Bob set out to do. Disoriented by his conflicts between his Jewish and Christian education Bob nevertheless set about changing Folk music, discarding the content for Jewish themes while retaining the outer forms. The Jewish world organization realizing they had something in Bob gave him maximum publicity actually turning him into a messianic figure through television and magazines.
The stresses of intense fame to his personality and character were terrific almost destroying him. Bob retreated at the height of his fame in 1966 after having established himself with three terrifically influential record albums. His mind was now focused and somewhat cleared. Placing a large Bible in the middle of his living room for easy reference Bob and his band worked and experimented with the Folk and old timey oeuvre of the White Christian hill people. Once again retaining the forms while stripping the material of the content, he infused Jewish Biblical content which was familiar to the Christian culture into the material. The immediate result was John Wesley Harding which is a Jewish religious album in tradtional White Christian dress.
The result is quite remarkable and on that basis is an astounding work of Jewish genius. Unaware of what was being done to them White Americans could offer no defense except rejection. There were quite a few of us who walked away from Bob at that point. I can’t say that I understood what Bob had done but I felt the insult to my sensibilities.
Thus, in retrospect, Bob’s so-called Christian period became inevitable as his strategy slowly unfolded in his mind. There is no conflict with Bob’s intense Jewishness in his combined religious entities, or reclaiming the Jewish Jesus for Judaism. Nothing could be more natural.
The preemption of the goi culture for Judaism is the astonishing achievement of little Bobby Zimmerman. Long after the fact there are still few who get it.
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