Admor Rabbi Dovid Morgenstern

 1809 – 1873

 22 Tammuz 5648 – July 17, 1873

 Today is the 141st Yahrzeit of Admor Dovid Morgenstern

 Admor Dovid was reported to be the only surviving child of the Kotzker Rebbe and his first wife, Glcikel. Admor Dovid married Chaya Toiba, the daughter of Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Dishkis – Greenwald on the 8th day of Elul, 1827. It was a Friday. Admor Dovid was 18 years old. The Rebbe, Reb Bunim of Peshischa passed away on the 12th of Elul, four days later. Admor Dovid in his teenage years accompanied his father to the Rebbe, Reb Bunum. He absorbed the Torah and Holiness of Pershciha. My cousin compiled a beautiful book focusing on the life of Admor Dovid Morgenstern, titled Ahavas Dovid.

Admor Dovid is buried next to his father in the cemetry in Kotzk. 

Little is written about the life of Reb Dovid. The only Torah we have from Admor Dovid is from Yechiel Moshe Greenwald who lived approximately from 1830 to 1920. Yechiel Moshe Greenwald is the nephew of Chaya great-great-great-great grandmother. Yichiel Moshe Greenwald married a number of times and has a grandson of the same name living in Toronto.

 There are no first person accounts of Admor Dovid or stories about his life. Ahavas Dovid has some stories but no in depth analysis. The book, “The Rebbe of Kotzk and the 60 Warriors Surrounding Him, which was a Hebrew translation of a 1938 Yiddish book, also had few stories of Admor Dovid. Unfortunately, for the last two years, I have not been immersed in Kotzker Chassidus and I am not able to draw upon my understanding of Kotzk to paint a picture of Reb Dovid.   I cannot close my eyes and see him.   I am confident that once I re-immerse myself into the world of Kotzk, a clear picture will emerge. He was a Tzaddick who learned by his father and in his early youth by the Rebbe, Reb Bunim. My sense is that he did not inherit the fiery temperament of the Kotzker. He was, Haznah Lechas Eim Elokim – He Walked Humbly with God. His great holiness and Torah knowledge was hidden behind a veil of humbleness and simplicity.   Outsiders were not able to perceive his depth and that he was a true Talmud of the Kotzker; the fire of Hasham burned within him. The one great story in Ahavas Dovid, was when the Kotzker passed away in 1859, Admor Dovid did not want to become the Rebbe because of his humbleness and that the linage of Polish Rebbes was not inherited from father to son, it was a meritocracy. The Chidushei Harim was the next great person to lead Polish Jewry and Admor Dovid would have deferred to the Chidushei Harim.   Chenoch Henech M’Alexander urged Admor Dovid to take the reins of leadership in Kotzk and after meeting with Admor Dovid, they decided that they will go to the Chidushei Harim for advice and blessing. The Chidusshi Harim urged Admor Dovid to take over the leadership in Kotzk and for 14 years led his Chassidim. At the time of the Kotzker’s passing, Admor Dovid was 50 and the Chidushei Harim was 61.

 The story I also love is written in “Siach Serfei Kodesh”. One Shemnei Atzeres, the Kotzker sent a message to his son, Admor Dovid, to pray with a Minyan because the entire livelihood for a person is determined on Shimnei Atzeres. For anyone including a son to have the concern of the Holy Kotzker (or any great leader) for him fills me with a sense of love.

The following comment is from my brother, Pesach:

 There was a small shul in Chicago on Independence Blvd just north of Roosevelt Road called Beis David.  The Rav was Rabbi Shloma Morgenstern.  We called him The Rebbi.  I was a boy of 7 or 8 years old, and I knew than that Reb David was the son of the Kotzker Rebbi.  My mother spoke highly of Reb Shloma, as being a Chacom.





Lissa Rov and the Chedushei Harim

From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2011 1:14 AM
To: Mitch Morgenstern

Good Motzai Shabbos:

Today, I saw a great story in a Sefer called the Lukketei HaRim that relates to my feelings of what I have to say.  The Sefer was a gift from Yonatan Glenner.

The Lissa Rav – Yaakov ben Moshe Lorberbaum of Lissa (1760-1832)  (  had a question he could not answer.  The RIM (1787-1866), answered the question.  The Lissa Rav stood for a few moments in deep thought and said – that I answer the question this way and the RIM says another answer.  I can engage in debate with the RIM, however, ultimately I know he is right.  I do not want to engage in debate because through the power of debate and persuasion I may get him to change his answer, and I know he is right.  The truth lies with him.    Understand that the RIM lived from 1799 – 1866, was much younger than the Lissa Rav and was not considered to be at the level of the Lissa Rav.  The Lissa Rav is the Nesivous.

The Lissa Rov learned in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Yosef Hochgelenter in Zamusz, the same yeshiva that the Kotzker Rebbe learned at years later.

I would like to add the WOW to the story with the Lissa Rav.

The point of the story with the Lissa Rav is that when  it comes to Torah, the truth reigns supreme.

The Lissa Rav was one of the great leaders of Jewry in Poland and was at least 60 at the time.  This story took place in the 1820’s. The RIM was in his 20’s and was not a universally recognized Torah scholar.   The Lissa Rav did not let ego get in the way.  He was willing to recognize the truth in what the RIM said.

Not only that,  the RIM was a Chassidic Jew and imagine a Chasid besting one of the greatest Misnagdic scholars at the time.   The Misnagdim were locked into a fight with the Chassidim for the hearts and minds of Jewry.   Misnagidm claimed that Chassdim were ignorant and did not produce Torah scholars.  The RIM disproved this.   The Lissa Rav could have also thought that I have to fight and disprove the RIM simply because we Misnagdim do not like Chassidim and we always have to best them in Torah, even if the Chasid is correct.  Perhaps not consciously,  but subconsciously he could have had this thought, where the Lissa Rav did not even realize that his arguing with the RIM was about not letting a Chasid be correct and  be proven to be a Torah scholar.

Had ego been a factor or a Misnagdic dislike for the Chassid, the Lissa Rav would not have had a clear mind to see the truth in the RIM’s answer and the Lissa Rav could have argued with the RIM and perhaps gotten the RIM to change his mind.  Remember, the Lissa Rav had memorized the entire Shas, Rishonim, and Poskim in his mind.  Had he had an agenda, then he would have fought the RIM.  However, the Lissa Rav was committed to the truth in Torah and publicly admitted that this Chassidic young man is correct.

There are parallels to various arguments among the leaders of Torah Jewry today, however, I will let others make the connections.