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Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

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Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Kotzker Rebbe
Image caption
Term 1827 – 1859
Full name Menachem Mendl Morgensztern
Born 1787
Goray, Poland
Died 27 January, 1859 (22 Shvat 5619)
Kotzk
Buried Kotzk
Dynasty Kotzk
Predecessor (first rebbe)
Successor Dovid Morgensztern
Father Leybush Morgenstern
Mother Elka
Wife1 Glike Nay
Issue1 Dovid Morgensztern
Wife 2 Chaya Lipszuc
Issue 2 Sara Cyna
Brucha
Binyomin
Moshe Yeruchom

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, better known as the Kotzker Rebbe (1787-1859) was a Hasidic leader. Born to a non-Hasidic family in Goraj near Lublin, Poland, he became attracted to Hasidim in his youth. He was known for having acquired impressive Talmudic and Kabbalistic knowledge at a young age. He was a student of the Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshischa, and upon the latter's death attracted many of his followers. The Kotzker Rebbe is well known for his incisive and down-to-earth philosophies, and sharp-witted sayings. He appears to have had little patience for false piety or stupidity.

Early life

The Peshischa system

Lublin

Tomashov

Kotzk

Crisis and seclusion

From 1839 he lived in seclusion for the last twenty years of his life[1].

Students and legacy

He is considered to be the spiritual founder upon which the Ger dynasty in Poland is based, through the teachings of its founder Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter. One of his major students was Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica.

He never published any works. He wrote many manuscripts, but he had them all burned before his death. Several collections of his sayings have been published, most notably Emes VeEmunah (Truth and Faith).

His eldest son, Rabbi Dovid Morgensztern, succeeded him as Kotzker Rebbe (1809-1893). The third Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi Chaim Yisrael Morgenstern (the Pilover Rebbe, 1840-1905). The fourth Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi Yitzchak Zelig Morgenstern (the Sokolover Rebbe, 1866-1940). In 1924, the Sokolover Rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak Zelig Morgensztern, visited Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron, Tiberias and Tel Aviv. He was accompanied on this trip by Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (the Imrei Emes), Rabbi Hirsh Heynekh Lewin, and Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter. Over a six-week period, they visited Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron, Tiberias and Tel Aviv. The fifth Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi Jacob Mendel Morgenstern (the Vengrov Rebbe, 1887-1939). Rabbi Shalom (Jonathan) Morgenstern from Scarsdale, New York, is an 8th generation direct descendant of the Kotzker Rebbe. The Kotzker Rebbe's disciple Rabbi Avrohom Bornsztain, author of Avnei Nezer and first Sochatchover Rebbe, was his son-in-law (having married Sara Tzina Morgenstern, the daughter of the Kotzker Rebbe). The first Rebbe of Ger, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, known for his work as the Chidushei Harim, was a preeminent disciple of the Kotzker Rebbe.

His sayings

"If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you!"

Man must "guard himself and his uniqueness, and not imitate his fellow ... for initially man was created in his own image, and only afterwards in the image of God."

"A person must renew himself, and his world with him, each and every day. But one who does not do so, and rather performs his deeds as a mechanical function, does nothing other than the actions of a monkey. Just as this monkey has no personality of his own, but rather copies his own actions and his fellow, so too this person."

"All that is thought should not be said, all that is said should not be written, all that is written should not be published, and all that is published should not be read."

"Where is God to be found? In the place where He is given entry"[2]

"People are accustomed to look at the heavens and to wonder what happens there. It would be better if they would look within themselves, to see what happens there."

"Just as it is the way of an ape to imitate humans, so too, a person, when he has become old, imitates himself, and does what was his manner previously." In other words, most of us, at some point in life, either consciously or not, become satisfied with who we are and what we've become. As such, we cease to strive toward attaining greater spiritual heights. We are content to live out our remaining days as a mere imitation of ourselves![3]

"Do not be satisfied with the speech of your lips and the thought in your heart, all the promises and good sayings in your mouth, and all the good thoughts in your heart; rather you must arise and do!"

References

  1. Joseph Fox (1988). "IX". Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk : a biographical study of the chasidic master. Brooklyn, N.Y: Bash Publications. ISBN 0932351212. OCLC 18599344. http://itethics.tripod.com/kotzk.pdf. 
  2. Simcha Raz; Edward Levin (1995). The sayings of Menahem Mendel of Kotsk. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson. p. 10. ISBN 1568212976. OCLC 30734940. 
  3. http://www.613.org/sacks-article.htm

"a person should carry a slip of paper in each side pocket. On one it should be written, 'the world was created for me' on the other, 'i am only dust from the ashes.'

Sources

  • Fox, Dr. Joseph (1988). Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk: A Biographical Study of the Chasidic Master. New York:Bash Publications Inc.
  • Raz, Simcha, Levin, Edward (trans.) (1995). The sayings of Menachem Mendel of Kotsk. Northvale, N.J.:Jason Aronson Inc.

See also

External links

  • [1] Fox, Joseph Dr., "Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk" A Biographical Study of the Chasidic Master, .pdf book download

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