Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Kotzker Rebbe

Grave of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Term 1827–1859
Full name Menachem Mendl Morgensztern
Born 1787
Goray, Poland
Died 27 January 1859 (22 Shvat 5619) =
Buried Kotzk
Dynasty Kotzk
Predecessor (first rebbe)
Successor Dovid Morgensztern
Father Leybush Morgenstern
Mother Elka
Wife 1 Glike Nay
Children 1 Dovid Morgensztern
Wife 2 Chaya Lipszuc
Children 2 Sara Cyna
Moshe Yeruchom

Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, better known as the Kotzker Rebbe (1787–1859) was a Hasidic rabbi and leader.


Born to a non-Hasidic family in Goraj near Lublin, Poland, he became attracted to Hasidus in his youth. He was known for having acquired impressive Talmudic and Kabbalistic knowledge at an early age. He was a student of Reb Bunim of Peshischa, and upon the latter's death attracted many of his followers. Morgensztern was 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.

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 David 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 Yitzhak-Meir Levin. 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). The sixth Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi David Solomon Morgenstern, who emigrated to London, England and then, Chicago, Illinois where he served the Chicago community. Rabbi Shalom (Jonathan) Morgenstern, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Scarsdale, New York, is allegedly 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!"

"Not all that is thought need be said, not all that is said need be written, not all that is written need be published, and not all that is published need be read"

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

"You don't love fish. If you loved the fish, you would not have killed it and cooked it on a fire."

"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![2]

See also


  1. Joseph Fox (1988). "IX". Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk : a biographical study of the chasidic master (PDF). Brooklyn, N.Y: Bash Publications. ISBN 0-932351-21-2. OCLC 18599344.
  2. 1 2 Simcha Raz; Edward Levin (1995). The sayings of Menahem Mendel of Kotsk. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson. p. 10. ISBN 1-56821-297-6. OCLC 30734940.


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