A book on Hasidism and Heschel's reflection on two teachers: the Baal Shem Tov and the Kotzker.
It is comparatively easy to preach joy and fervor, but to demand Truth is like shaping marble without tools. And so [the Kotzker] went looking for a few surging people and called loudly upon their souls to bend their conceit and see the Truth beneath the soil.
This was not a philosophical inquiry into the nature of Truth but a scrutiny of men's lives in relation to Truth. Religion, the Kotzker maintained, was not simply an act of adopting a system of beliefs and certain modes of conduct; test and trial were needed, and one had to ascertain through introspection whether one's beliefs were genuine or not, and whether one acted out Truth or lived a life of pretense.
Kierkegaard made it his task "to reintroduce Christianity into Christendom." The Kotzker sought to reintroduce authenticity to Jewish life. Kierkegaard's posthumous impact has been powerful. But has the Kotzker affected Jewish self-understanding?
-from A Passion for Truth
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