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Gnashing of Teeth Among the Coheneem?

By: Jeff Mudrick Posted: July-05-2010 in
Maimonides, 12th Century
Jeff Mudrick

Ticket prices for the Leonard Cohen concert have been announced and tickets gone up for sale through Leonard's fan club site, and they range in cost after processing fees, from $281 to over $600 per ticket. That is a rather expensive night out in one of the poorest countries on the planet. I know of one person who has bought a ticket. Apparently that's not a problem as the vast majority of seats are not up for public sale anyway. The fact that some portion of the proceeds benefit the Prime Minister's two favorite charities does not lessen the feeling of discomfort that many of Cohen's fans here feel about this.

Ads for the Cohen concert portray this as some kind of kickoff in the regeneration of Phnom Penh as a center of culture. Just how a Canadian Jew singing often impenetrable poetry to an arena chock full of Cambodian VIP's -- and a flurry of overpaid NGO workers and corporate sponsors -- currying favor with HE and Mrs. HE signals anything of the sort quite goes beyond my understanding.

Mr. Cohen, is of course a practicing Jew who spent several years in a Zen Buddhist monastery. So at this time I'd like to turn your attention to the different spins charitable giving has in the Jewish and Buddhist Khmer traditions. The Jewish thinking was outlined quite cleary nine-hundred years ago by Maimonides, to wit:

Rambam organized the different levels of tzedakah (charity) into a list from the least to the most honorable.

8. When donations are given grudgingly.
7. When one gives less than he should, but does so cheerfully.
6. When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.
5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.
4. When the recipient is aware of the donor's identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient.
3. When the donor is aware of the recipient's identity, but the recipient is unaware of the source.
2. When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.
1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

In the Jewish tradition charitable giving is an absolute obligation and central to the tradition, not a way to score extra points.

In the Khmer Buddhist tradition, one's status in life, including one's financial status, is a reflection of one's accumulated karma in past lives, thus those who are rich and powerful, however they may act in the present life to lose karma points, are at least in some strong sense deserving of their position. Acts of charity are valued based upon how much is given, whether one is rich or poor, a view which enables those with large fortunes to rack up even more karma points even if the amounts given are a pittance of what they may be capable of giving.

Now I have not discussed this matter with Rabbi Butman or any of the local monks, but upon continuing reflection it's pretty clear to me the kind of charitable and cultural event this concert represents and in spite of Mr. Cohen's probably fine intentions, I don't think much of it.

Part II - Gnashing of Teeth Part II: On the Other Hand Rabbi...
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user avatar kidkhmer (not verified)

If i hear anymore about this

If i hear anymore about this old fart I will vomit.



I was so very disappointed not just at the price of the tickets but at the selection of "charities." I don't think the promoters did their research, or if they did, they choose the Cambodian Red Cross for the wrong reasons. Maybe one would assume that RC would be fair, transparent and well run, as it is in most other countries in the world, but in Cambodia it is headed by the wife of the PM. How the IRC allows this to happen is a mystery since the RC is meant to be apolitical. Numerous events in the past have shown that the Cambodian RC is anything but apolitical! Villagers who are known supporters of the opposition have been sidelined in received aid after disasters.

If the promoters had done their research or are even mildly aware of the reality, it is unlikely they would have chosen to hand over such sums to a charity that is anything but a tool of the ruling party.

And really, do they expect the VIPs to even understand any of Leonard Cohen's music?

The whole thing is a huge WTF?

A very disappointed fan.


teeth gnashing


user avatar Anonymous

I have to admit to buying a

I have to admit to buying a ticket. If I'd been in Cambo at the time of purchase I know I wouldn't have. But, I've just arrived in Oz to earn some money and got carried away with the idea of purchasing a ticket (had just been paid a princely sum), and didn't stop to think about what the prices were elsewhere and that might be something questionable about where the money was going. Stupid of me. Completely stupid. And I feel a little sick at having done it.

I completely agree that the prices are outrageous and can't understand who would be buying other than NGO employees/contractors in PP and stupid thoughtless idiots like myself. I had set myself a limit of 150 a ticket, but got carried away with having money in the bank account at long last.

I'm not sure what to do now. Not going, having spent the money would not be any kind of stand. HE has the money already. Suggestions welcome... maybe raffle it for a more needy charity????


Gnashing of Teeth Among the Coheneem?

This is a complete joke; even if I could afford that sort of money (which I cannot as I am neither an overpaid NGO-type nor one of his HE's lackeys), I would never pay this; much as like Mr. Cohen,


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