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Yitzchak Kogan, the grandson of Russian immigrants who escaped to Poland in 1917, was extremely religious. From boyhood he was obsessed with the Jewish idea of tzadik, “one whose merit surpasses his iniquity”. Talmud says that “A tzadik decrees and the Holy One (blessed be He) fulfills”. Presumably, the state of tzadik is attainable for any Jew. Baal Shem Tov said that every Jew has the power to cross a river atop a handkerchief by connecting with their soul. The tzadik has no evil inclination.

Kogan’s family were cultural assimilationists. They felt it was important to cling to their traditional Jewish values but at the same time conform to the society in which they lived. Young Yitzchak however, became fascinated by the new Zionist movement after reading Austro-Hungarian journalist, Theodor Herzl’s Der Judenstaat. Herzl advocated migration to Ottoman Palestine in response to assimilation and antisemitism.

The Jewish Moshiach, מָשִׁיחַ in Hebrew, or Messiah is a human leader of the line of David who is destined to unite and rule the people of Israel. Kogan learned from Tanakh that once the Moshiach is named King all nations will look to him for guidance. The prophet Isaiah taught that Moshiach would be an observant Jew against whom evil and tyranny could not stand. All nations would recognize the wrongs they did to Israel and turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance. People from all cultures and nations would be perfected and serve God together.

Yitzchak Kogan came to see himself as that Moshiach. He, and he alone would ensure the world came to Israel on bended knee apologizing for their past sins, asking for his embrace. With the Hebrew calendar rapidly approaching the seventh millennium, he knew that the Zohar, or deadline was near. The Holy One had placed him in this place at this time to usher in the new Messianic Era.

With world opinion slowly turning against Israel, culminating in the humiliating abstention by the United States in the Palestine statehood vote at the United Nations, Kogan knew that the state of Israel was quickly moving into an emergency situation. The era of universal peace and brotherhood appeared to be slipping from his grasp.

Sometimes, the path to peace is built by war.

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