The Kotzker Rebbe and the Crimean War:

Expressions of love for Jewish soldiers

I saw this Vort from the Kotzker mentioned in Harry Maryles’s Blog, Emes V’emunah, by a commentator named Ephraim.  I have not seen this Vort in  a sefer, but it is true to the Kotzker and keeping with the feeling of his responsibility to the entire nation of Israel. Continue reading “The Kotzker Rebbe and the Crimean War:”


Pesach at the Kotzker Rebbe’s Seder Table

The Lesson of Maror


A Chosid who used to travel to the Kotkzer, approximately 56 years earlier, was on his way home from Gur after the holiday of Succos.  He travelled by way of Sochatchov  and visited the Sochatchover Rebbe.  This event  took place in the early 1900’s.     The Sochatchover Rebbe was Rabbi Avrohom Bornsztain – 14 October 1838 to 7 February 1910,  and son-in-law of the Kotzker.

When this Chosid visited the Rebbe, the Sochachover remembered that he sent this Chosed on two missions.  Once regarding the Ran and once regarding the Rashba. (I do not know what this means).

 The Chosid asked the Sochatchover Rebbe to tell him rest of the story at the Kotzker Rebbe’s Seder.    

 The Kotzker Rebbe’s Seder:

The Kotzker failed to pass out Maror to his family and those at the Seder.  This story of the Seder took place in the mid to late 1850’s.  The people around the table whispered to the Sochatchover that he should remind the Kotzker to pass out Maror.   The Sochatchover in a light-hearted comment to the Kotzker Rebbe mentioned a disagreement in the Talmud whether Marror today is Rabbinic or Biblical.  The Sochatchover said to his father-in-law that I have a proof from the Rebbe that Maror is Biblical because the Rebbe has not passed out the Maror.

 This is the extent of the story that the Chosid heard from Reb Hersh Tomashover and the Chosid wanted to know what happened afterwards.   Reb Hersh Tomashovor was the Kotzker’s Gabbai for many years.

The Sochatchover told  the Chosid the rest of the story.

 The Rest of the Story:

The Kotzker responded to his son-in-law, you are correct and gave Maror to everyone.  Suddenly, the Kotzker declared in a loud vice, “Maror Fressers”, Maror Fressers translates into, People who indulge in  Maror.  Due to the fear of the Rebbe everyone around the table scattered and only the Sochatchover remained.

 The Kotzker asked his son-in-law, what new insight have you said on the topic of Pesach. The Kotzker and Sochatchover talked in learning.   After a while Reb Hersh Tomashover came in the room and the Kotzker asked him, where is everyone.  Reb Hersh answered that the Rebbe chased them out of the house when the Rebbe screamed out, Maror Fressers.  The Kotzker replied that he did not mean the people around the table.

Understanding the Story – Understanding the Greatness of the Kotzker:

What is the meaning of this story?  Is it just a Chassidic tale that has no meaning or even worse.  Rabbi Farkas, my nephew’s father-in-law, repeated this story to me at Avrohom Yisroel Chase’s Bar MItzva two years ago and said he had no clue to what it meant.   Rabbi Farkas’s words were a little harsher and used this story almost as a metaphor for Kotzk.  Luckily I knew the story and explained to him what the story meant, why it had to be written, and how we can see the greatness of the Kotzker Rebbe.

 This Seder took place in the 1850s well into the period the Kotzker’s “Yimai Hester”, when the Kotzker withdrew from the world.    Even during this 20 year period the Kotzker never for one moment stopped being a leader.  During the 20 year period he raised a family, taught students, married off kids, was consulted by other leaders on communal matters, did not stop from praying to God for the salvation of the nation of Israel, learned Torah day and night not only for himself but for all Jews.  He was a beacon of light to all those seeking Torah and the Truth.  The best and brightest of Poland flocked to the study hall of Kotzk to be in his shadow.  The Kotzker established Poland as a Makom Torah, a place for top level Torah study.

 When the Kotzker  screamed out Maror Fressers, he was praying to God.  Enough already.  It is time for Moshaich.  The Jews have suffered and suffered and suffered.   The Jews are constantly eating Maror and it is time for salvation.  This is a leader, someone who is constantly worried and praying for his people, exhorting his community to be fierce in the worship  of God, excel in Torah learning,  and doing the right thing. 

  I wish everyone a Chag Kosher V’Sameach.

The Avnei Nezer’s Pshat in a Rambam (told over at Avromi Perl’s Bar Mitzvah)

Background to the story:

The Avnei Nezer also known as the Sochachover Rebbe,married the Kotzker older twin daugher, Sarah Tzinah, in 1853+-.  The Avneir Nazar at the time of ths story was maybe 18 years old.   This story took place during the years of the Kotzker’s “Hisbotidus” – years that the Kotzker limited his contact with the world.

The Avnei Nezer, son-in-law of the Kotzker told the following story.    I worked hard on a Ramban and after much effort  God enlightened for me the answer.  (The quesion at hand was a difficult Rambam who seemed to rule on a specific law in contradiction to the Talmud.) The Rambam in question had a different version of the Talmud and therefore his  ruling was proper.

I told my Torah original thought to the Kotzker and he did not say anyting.  The Kotzker told me to return to the study hall and say the Torah thought to a scholar you meet in the study hall, and report back to me.  I  found the Chidushai Harim.  The Chidushai Harim  did not agree with my Torah and felt that the Rambam was still difficult.  I reported back to the Kotzker,  who again told me to return to the study hall to speak with another Torah scholar.  I found Reb Henoch M’Alexander, who greatly appreciated and agreed with my Torah.  I returned to the Kotzker who called in the Chedushai Harim and Reb Henoch M’Alexander.  The three  of us stood  before the Kotzker, who scolded us and said, is this the way you learn the holy Torah, with uncertainty,  This one says it is difficult and the other says it is  correct.  The Kotzker proceeded  to explain the Rambam and answered it 13 different ways.  The Aveni Nezer said, I only understood  6 or 7 of the answers, the Chidushai Harim understood up to 10, and the remaining answers  we did not understand  due to their depth and sharpness.

The Chidushai Harim’s Manuscript (told over at Avromi Perl’s Bar Mitzvah)


The Chidushai Harim showed the Kotzker Rebbe a manuscript on Torah he wrote on the Choshen Mishpat, (the portion of Jewish law that deals with civil law).  The Kotzker looked at it for a long time and afterwards said – This manuscript is very special, however, I am afraid that if you publish it, people will stop learning  the Shach (a major commentary printed along the side of the Choshen Mishpat text).  The Shach learned Torah for its own sake with major effort and diligence.  The Chedushai Harim left the Kotzker presence and said, even though my manuscript is invaluable, it is a commandment to listen to the words of Torah scholars.  The Chedushai Harim started a fire and burnt his manuscript.

A while later a student came to the  Kotzker and the Rebbe asked the student, what did the Rim  do with the manuscript.  The student answered that the Chedushai Harim burnt it.  The Kotzker Rebbe commented – how wondrous is this great person and the generosity of his sprit, he did a great thing to sublimate his will before mine, and burnt his manuscript that contained precious  and true Torah.  Know that the light of his Torah will begin to shine.  The wisdom of his Torah will enlighten the entire world, and his Torah thoughts will be accepted worldwide.