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 Toiba.my 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.