RIP David Bowie, who found Kaballah before Madonna

Bowie may have been the only major international pop singer to use kabbalistic terminology in Hebrew.

Gil Ronen ,

David Bowie
David Bowie

British rock superstar David Bowie, 69, has died after a prolonged fight with cancer, it was announced Monday.

While not even remotely Jewish, Bowie may have been the first – and thus far the only – major international pop singer to use kabbalistic terminology in Hebrew. Writing in The Forward in 2013, Seth Rogovoy noted that Bowie "beat Madonna by 20 years or so when he sang about the sefirot, the mystical vessels of divine energy, in the title track of his 1976 album, 'Station to Station.'"

“Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth,” he sang. The lyrics refer to the divine emanations of the infinite: the Keter, or crown, and the Malhut, or kingship. Bowie was pictured on the back of the album, drawing a diagram of the 10 Sefirot.

Bowie’s Kabbalistic dabblings were "part of an overarching spiritual quest" that took him from Tibetan Buddhism to Christian mysticism and occult worship, according to Rogovoy. However, he adds, the singer also had "a flirtation with neo-Nazi imagery that nearly derailed his career when it was discovered that he collected Nazi memorabilia and that he seemingly made a 'Heil Hitler' salute upon arriving, in 1976, in an open-top Mercedes convertible, waving to a crowd gathered at London’s Victoria Station."

Bowie's subsequent life and career, including his marriage to black Somali supermodel Iman, "suggest that he is anything but a Nazi sympathizer," though.

While the Internet-based rumors that Bowie’s mother, Peggy Burns, was part Jewish, are false, it is true that that Bowie’s older half-brother, Terry Burns, is the son of one Jack Isaac Rosenberg, whose father was Jewish.

Rogovoy added that two of Bowie's greatest early musical influences were Jewish rockers Bob Dylan and Lou Reed.