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 out 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 was once now not a philosophical inquiry into the character of fact yet a scrutiny of men’s lives in relation to fact. faith, the Kotzker maintained, used to be no longer easily an act of adopting a procedure of ideals and likely modes of behavior; attempt and trial have been wanted, and one needed to determine via introspection no matter if one’s ideals have been real or no longer, and even 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 existence. Kierkegaard’s posthumous effect has been robust. yet has the Kotzker affected Jewish self-understanding?
―from A ardour for Truth
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Additional resources for A passion for truth
The Prophet Isaiah heard the seraphim proclaim, 'The whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6 : 3); Job, however, maintained that "the earth is given over to the power of the wicked" (9 : 24). Reb Mendl drew closer to Job than to the seraphim. The Baal Shem adopted the perspective of the seraphim; the world was filled with glory, evil being but an instrument of the good, capable of conversion to good. The Kotzker did not want to listen to angels; what he heard and saw was a world dominated by falsehood.
Evil was too stubborn to be capable of con version. Reb Henokh of Alexander, a disciple of the Kotzker, expressed this in a metaphor. If two sheets of metal are to be smelted together, they must first be cleansed of all impurities. As long as rust adheres to them, they will not fuse. So long as a heart is impure, it cannot attach itself to God. 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.
Yet "truth" is never a verb . . It is impossible to find Truth without being in love, and it is impossible to experience love without being truthful, without living Truth. According to the teaching of the Baal Shem, the essential goal is living in attachment to God. To the mind of the Kotzker such striving was an affront. Since man's heart was deceitful, his piety often a sham, his inner life a slum, how dared he consider him self worthy of attachment to Him Who was the source of Truth! The shift of emphasis from striving after mystical experience to reflective self-critical discipline was part of the revolution in Hasidism initiated by the Holy Jew.