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Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

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Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Grave of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
TitleKotzker Rebbe
Menachem Mendl Morgensztern

Goray, Poland
Died27 January 1859 (22 Shvat 5619)
SpouseGlike Nay, Chaya Lipszuc
ChildrenDovid Morgensztern
Sara Cyna
Moshe Yeruchom
  • Leybush Morgenstern (father)
  • Elka (mother)
Jewish leader
Predecessor(first rebbe)
SuccessorDovid Morgensztern
Yitzchak Meir Alter

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



Born to a non-Hasidic family in Goraj near Lublin, Poland, he became attracted to Hasidic philosophy 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


The Kotzker Rebbe 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).

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 Kotzker Rebbe is considered to be the spiritual founder upon which the Ger dynasty in Poland is based, through the teachings of its founder and the first Rebbe Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, known for his work as the Chidushei Harim, who was a preeminent disciple of the Kotzker Rebbe and his brother in law through his second wife.

One of his major students was Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica.


  • His eldest son, Rabbi Dovid Morgensztern, succeeded him as Kotzker Rebbe (1809–1893). His collected works and a genealogy of descendents was published as "Ahavat David" by Boruch Gutter in 2007.
  • The third Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi Chaim Yisrael Morgenstern (the Pilover Rebbe, 1840–1905). He wrote Kuntris Shalom Yerusalalayim in 1891, a rare early work of Chassidic Zionism. It was published in "Sheirit Yisrael"
  • A fourth generation Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi Yitzchak Zelig Morgenstern (the Sokolover Rebbe, 1866–1939). A leader of Agudat Yisrael in Poland and a Rebbe, Rabbi of a city, an herbalist, and Head of Yeshivat Beit Yisrael. He visited Israel at least twice. His surviving writings were published as "Sheirit Yitschak". His brother Tzvi Hirsh (the Lukover Rebbe, 1858–1920), was Kotzker Rebbe in Lukov. His surviving writings were republished as "Ateret Tzvi", with an added genealogy, by the Glenner family of Chicago.
  • A fifth Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi Jacob Mendel Morgenstern (the Węgrów Rebbe, 1887–1939). Another was Rabbi Josef Aaron Morgenstern (1891-murdered by Nazis in Treblinka death camp, 1942, the next Lukover Rebbe. He relocated his Chassidic Court to Warsaw before WW2.
  • A sixth Kotzker Rebbe was Rabbi David Shlomo Morgenstern, who emigrated to London, England and then, Chicago, Illinois where he served the Chicago community. Another was David J Morgan, (born Yisrael Dovid Morgenstern, 1918–1987), author of Truth and Wisdom of Judaism, the only Holocaust surviving son. After WW 2, he lived and taught Chassidic insights and Torah ethics to non-Orthodox Jews in schools in Israel, Belgium, Philadelphia, and Vineland, NJ.
  • A seventh generation includes descendants of the first Kotzk-Lukover Rebbe Tzvi Hirsch namely Avraham Meir Morgenstern, Lisa Glenner, Karen Schwartz, and grandchildren of the second Lukov-Kotzk Rebbe, including Dr. Joseph Morgan, founder of KotzkerPhfarma, Rosette Narkunski, and Nancy Recant.
  • An eighth and ninth generation includes children and grandchildren of the above.

Some of the Kotzker's sayings

  • "What kind of God would He be if I could understand Him?"
  • "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!"
  • "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!"
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • 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."
  • "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."
  • "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."[3]
  • "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. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ "Can Love Overcome Resentment? - Guest Columnists - Parshah". Retrieved 20 December 2023.

5. https://kotzk.com/ "Exploring Kotzk" by Avrohom Meir (Mitchell) Morgenstern


  • Fox, Dr. Joseph (1988). Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk: A Biographical Study of the Chasidic Master. New York:Bash Publications Inc.
  • Oratz, Rabbi Ephraim (1989) And Nothing But The Truth according to the Rebbe of Kotzk. Judaica Press.
  • Heschel, Abraham Joshua (1973). A Passion for Truth. New York:Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Raz, Simcha, Levin, Edward (trans.) (1995). The sayings of Menachem Mendel of Kotsk. Northvale, N.J.:Jason Aronson Inc.
  • Kotzk, Rabbi David of compiled and edited by Boruch Gutter (2007). "Sefer Ahavat David Hashalem (Kotzk)" Includes genealogy of descendants. Self-published via Hadaf Printing, NY.
  • Morgenstern, Tzvi Hirsh (1906), "Ateret Tsvi al Ha-Torah" (with Kuntress Zera Kodesh, a genealogy added when reissued as a self-published work by the Glenner Family of Chicago).
  • Morgan, David J (1967), "Truth and Wisdom of Judaism" self-published by author in Phila, PA.