By Menahem Mendel, of Kotsk, 1787-1859., Menahem Mendel, of Kotsk, 1787-1859; Heschel, Abraham Joshua; Baʻal Shem Ṭov, approximately 1700-1760., Baʻal Shem Ṭov, approximately 1700-1760; Kierkegaard, Søren

It is relatively effortless to evangelise pleasure and fervor, yet to call for fact is like shaping marble with no instruments. And so [the Kotzker] went searching for a number of surging humans and known as loudly upon their souls to bend their conceit and notice the reality underneath the soil....

This used to be no longer a philosophical inquiry into the character of fact yet a scrutiny of men’s lives in relation to fact. faith, the Kotzker maintained, was once now not easily an act of adopting a approach of ideals and sure modes of behavior; try and trial have been wanted, and one needed to make certain via introspection no matter if one’s ideals have been real or no longer, and no matter if one acted out fact or lived a lifetime of pretense....

Kierkegaard made it his job “to reintroduce Christianity into Christendom.” The Kotzker sought to reintroduce authenticity to Jewish lifestyles. Kierkegaard’s posthumous impression has been robust. yet has the Kotzker affected Jewish self-understanding?
―from A ardour for Truth

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THE Two TEACHERS 41 Above all, it was reasoned in Kotzk, you had to make every effort to rid yourself of impurities. Not until then could you attain the Hasidic way of life. It was exceedingly difficult to do the Holy perfectly, for all our acts are tainted by self-interest. In the battle with our evil impulses, we had to take the initia­ tive. Nor could we indulge in self-congratulation. The Kotzker was averse to "a tongue th at rnakes great boasts. " Kotzk was not the first stop for Jews who longed to walk the Hasidic road.

Well, he's not. He is enveloped in a shroud. He belongs to the world of phantoms. Let him go to his eternal rest . " Some years later, when the Kotzker had become Rebbe, he drove out of town with Reb Hirsh of Tomashov. They came to a bridge where several women began to throw stones at them. "Have no fear," said the Kotzker. "They are not real women, nor are their stones real. " 24 A PASSION FOR TRUTH Vanity of Vanities ? It is an assumption in many religions that, in order to reach the Divine, you must first abandon the mundane.

All of the Holy belonged to God, which meant that every religious action had to be pure in inten­ tion. If a Holy deed was tinged with self-interest, the evil impulse would gain dominion over it and claim its holiness for itself . . For evil could not exist without the Holy; it fed on the holiness of a mitzvah tinged with self-centeredness. Any act of worship that was not exercised for the sake of Heaven was idolatry. " 2 Jews have always believed that the Torah glows with Divinity. Yet the Baal Shem thought that there were other sources of the Divine.

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