The grave of the first Kotzker Rebbe, in Kotz, Poland. (Source: Wikimedia, some rights reserved.
“I do not want followers who are righteous, rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad.”– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk
Rabbi Morgensztern, more often referred to as the Kotzker Rebbe, was a Hasidic leader who lived from 1787 – 1859. He was born to a non-Hasidic family in Lublin, Poland but was attracted to Hasidism early in his life. Unlike the Baal Shem Tov, who was known for his pursuit of joy in Torah, the Kotzker Rebbe was a bit more stern. He was very much aware of the human inclination to evil [yetzer harah] but also determined to fight against it.
He never published any works, and was quoted as saying:
Not all that is thought need be said, not all that is said need be written, not all that is written need be published, and not all that is published need be read.
(Something tells me that he would not have approved of blogging.)
However, I love his quotation at the top of the screen. Whenever I read it, I think I should find myself another mitzvah to do. If we are not quite busy enough, then we might have time to sit around and congratulate ourselves, and then we would not be truly righteous! However, with 613 mitzvot to keep us busy, what excuse is there for getting into trouble?
If you find the Kotzker Rebbe intriguing, there’s a wonderful piece about him in the Jewish Virtual Library, and more of his sayings on yquotes.
Do you have a favorite saying by the Kotzker, or by any other Hasidic rebbe?
3 thoughts on “Too Busy to Be Bad”
I just opened your referenced link to his quotes and I do like all! I must admit however my favorite is, “God is where you let Him in.”
Thank you Rabbi Ruth for sharing this link.
I feel like there is some piece of fiction out there about him. Gotta look it up…
Please let me know if you find fiction about the Kotsker Rebbe!