Selichos, Eruv Rosh Hashanah – September 18, 2020

 Kotzker Vort:

אין שׁלם כלב שבור, אין ישר כסולם עקום, ואין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל)

There is nothing whole as a broken heart, there is nothing straight than a crooked ladder, and there is nothing more crooked (deep) than a simple thought.

I attended Selichos tonight, Eruv Rosh Hashanah.   In Selicha # כט  which starts אֵל־אֱמוּנָה עֶזְרָה הָבָה it says    הַיְשַׁר לְפָנֶיךָ לֵב־עָקֹב. – “Straighten before you a crooked heart”.    I stopped as if hit by a thunderbolt.  The following Kotzker Vort popped into my mind  –

(אין שׁלם כלב שבור, אין ישר כסולם עקום, אין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל – “there is nothing whole as a broken heart, there is nothing straight than a crooked ladder, and there is nothing more crooked than a simple thought.” 

I gave this Kotzker Vort much thought.

I pictured in my mind one Eruv Rosh Hashanah morning while it was still dark, Selichos were being said in Kotzk.  The Kotzker Rebbe read the above Slicha, stopped, and became immersed in thought.   He thought to himself,  Klal Yisroel are a broken people from all their  צרות, both on personal and on communal levels.  The Kotzker Rebbe prayed – Hashem Yisborach, the Jewish people have broken hearts, there is nothing more whole than a broken heart, אין שׁלם כלב שבור , there is no need to straighten out their hearts, they are pure and holy.  Give Klal Yisroel everything they need, both spiritually and a fulfillment of their physical needs.  Give them Parnosa, let them marry off their children, free them from the heavy hand of daily living, the Poritz, the government, and having their kids being forcibly pressed into the army by the Russian government, referred to as Cantonists). 

The Kotzker perhaps at this moment or later added two more sayings that talk about  ישר and  עקום.        

 אין ישר כסולם עקום – There is nothing straight like a twisted ladder.   I speculate that it means – the ladder refers to the spiritual ladder of Yaakov on which people ascend during their lifetime to the heavens, to achieve Ruchniyos.   The lifetime striving to do the right thing to reach Hashem does not follow a straight and direct path.  It follows a jagged path, rising, falling like a crooked ladder that has twists and turns, but always moving skyward.   The crooked path is really the straight path because it cannot be done any other way.  Similar to the following chart of the stock market prices, while there are dips and valleys, the stock market trends upward. 

(אין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל –

I am not sure what the Hebrew means, but the Yiddish is that there is nothing more crooked than a simple thought, an easy piece of Torah. When a Reshon says what seemingly is a simple thought, or a one word Pshet, there are great ideas and thought hidden in the simple explanation of the Rishon. One has to dig deep to understand what the Rishon meant. I see this all the time and Boruch Hashem there are times I can burrow deep behind the one word and uncover great ideas.

Beautiful  Kotzker on the Horvanya of the Pri Megadim:

Emails to and from various Rabbis:

From: Mitchell Morgenstern <>

Date: Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 1:27 AM

Subject: Thank You

To: Ben Sugerman , Moshe Revah

Dear Teachers:

Thank you for all the Torah you have taught me this year and every year.  Have a Kesiva V’Chasimah Tovah.  

I worked on the below Kotzker Vort.  While you can change the way I expressed my thoughts, the examples I gave, I believe they are the basic ideas of the Kotzker. At the bottom of the email I put in a magnificent Vort from the Kotzke .on the Pri Megadim and the Pri Megadim’s efforts to understand the Rashba. 

Please. please make any improvements – ideas, spelling and grammar.   Please add.  

Weinreb, Tzvi H. <>
Sep 18, 2020, 4:36 PMReply

to me

It definitely works and I like it. It called to my mind a book by the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, “The Crooked Timber of Humanity”. It is based upon a passage in the writing of Immanuel Kant: which translates as “Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be built.” The German original begins: “Aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts Gerades gezimmert werden.” Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach, Shana tovah. THWeinreb

From: Mitchell Morgenstern <>

Sent: Friday, September 18, 2020 5:05 PM

To: Weinreb, Tzvi H. <>

Subject: Re: Thank You

Thank you.  Does my leap to something that has twists and turns and contains a hidden/deep Peshet work?

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 18, 2020, at 9:28 AM, Weinreb, Tzvi H. <> wrote:

 Thank you for your thoughts and good wishes. As you know the Yiddish for עקום is “kroom”.  A better English translation than “twisted” is therefore “crooked” which has the dual connotations: “bent, not straight” and “crook = criminal”! Be well and Kesiva v’chasima tovah THWeinre

Selichos – Erev Rosh Hashanah – #29:

כט. על פי א”ב. חתום אפרים בר יצחק

אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ  Our God and God of our fathers!

אֵל־אֱמוּנָה עֶזְרָה הָבָה. לְעַמְּךָ כֻּלָּם הֵטִיבָה. יַחַד לַמִּשְׁפָּט נִקְרָבָה: בּוֹחֵן לִבּוֹת כֻּלָּם. מוֹשֵׁל בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ עוֹלָם. יָבִיא בַּמִּשְׁפָּט עַל־כָּל־נֶעְלָם:

Trusted God, extend help and do goodness to Your entire nation [when] they come together to be judged. [He] Who knows their innermost thoughts [and] rules the world with His might brings to judgment for everything hidden.

גָּבוֹהַּ בַּמִּשְׁפָּט הָאֵל. נִקְדַּשׁ בְּצִדְקוֹתָיו כְּהַרְרֵי־אֵל וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו עִם יִשְֹרָאֵל: 

God, Who is exalted through judgment1I.e. by bringing the evil to justice, all perceive Him ruling the world. [and] sanctified through His righteousness, [powerful] as the mighty mountains when He judges Israel.

דְּלֵה מֵעֹנֶשׁ נְשֹוּאֶיךָ. בְּחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת מְנַשְּׂאֶיךָ. צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאֶךָ:

Remove retribution from those You carry,2“Those You carry,” i.e. the nation of Israel. those who exalt You with “Grace and truth.”3I.e. those who recognize God’s grace and truth. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of Your Throne.

הַיְשַׁר לְפָנֶיךָ לֵב־עָקֹב. דִּינֶךָ הָהָר יִקֹּב. מִשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב: וְיֹשֶׁר מִדּוֹתֶיךָ נֶחֱמָדוּ. יוֹשְׁבֵי־תֵבֵל צֶדֶק לָמָדוּ. לְמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ עָמָדוּ:

Straighten before You, a crooked heart, Your judgment bores through the mountain4I.e. nothing can stand in the way of God’s judgment.— the justice of the God of Jacob. The righteousness of Your virtues are delightful, the world’s inhabitants learned justice as they stand to be judged by You.

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