By Menahem Mendel, of Kotsk, 1787-1859., Menahem Mendel, of Kotsk, 1787-1859; Heschel, Abraham Joshua; Baʻal Shem Ṭov, approximately 1700-1760., Baʻal Shem Ṭov, approximately 1700-1760; Kierkegaard, Søren
It is relatively effortless to evangelise pleasure and fervor, yet to call for fact is like shaping marble with no instruments. And so [the Kotzker] went searching for a couple of surging humans and known as loudly upon their souls to bend their conceit and notice the reality underneath the soil....
This used to be now not a philosophical inquiry into the character of fact yet a scrutiny of men’s lives in relation to fact. faith, the Kotzker maintained, was once now not easily an act of adopting a procedure of ideals and sure modes of behavior; attempt and trial have been wanted, and one needed to be sure via introspection no matter if one’s ideals have been real or now not, and no matter if one acted out fact or lived a lifetime of pretense....
Kierkegaard made it his job “to reintroduce Christianity into Christendom.” The Kotzker sought to reintroduce authenticity to Jewish existence. Kierkegaard’s posthumous impression has been strong. yet has the Kotzker affected Jewish self-understanding?
―from A ardour for Truth
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Extra resources for A passion for truth
Suddenly the door bursts open, and the Kotzker appears, quoting God's fearsome invective from Hosea : "I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs . . " ( 1 3 : 8) . The disciples take fright and hasten off. Exaltation or Self-examination Wonder and exaltation infused the words of the Baal Shem Tov. His teaching called for fervor, joy, and ecstasy. Suffering and torment suffused the maxims of the Kotzker. His teaching called for earnest reflection and self-inquiry, for sobriety and severity.
The world of the Spirit is eternity, the world of here and now vanity. Rationally, such a dualism seems plausible. Yet those who adore the Creator may feel challenged by the question : how can we love Him whose Being is holy and hiding without adoring the world He created? The Baal Shem exhorted us to prize highly everything that exists. How else can we come close to the Creator, if not through the things He has made? It is hardly possible to revere Him and at the same time despise His creation.
A thought is like a person. It arrives because it needs to be restored. A thought severed, abused, seeks to be reunited with its root. Furthermore, it may be a message sent to remind a man of a task, a task he was born to carry out. All facts are parables; their object is God. All things are tales the Teacher relates in order to render intelligible issues too diffi cult to comprehend literally, directly. Through things seen, God accommodates Himself to our level of understanding. What a shame it is that people do not comprehend the greatness of things on earth.
A passion for truth by Menahem Mendel, of Kotsk, 1787-1859., Menahem Mendel, of Kotsk, 1787-1859; Heschel, Abraham Joshua; Baʻal Shem Ṭov, approximately 1700-1760., Baʻal Shem Ṭov, approximately 1700-1760; Kierkegaard, Søren