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Two new posts for growing band of fans

THE KOTZK BLOG by Rabbi Gavin Michal has become quite a sensation on SAJR Online – with a fast-growing fan-base and one of the most commented-on writers on this website. Michal is a scholar of the writings of the Kotzker Rebbe and calls his own blogs: “Musings on the Teachings of Kotzk.” For those who don’t enjoy devening, writes the Rav, Not all children of old hippies go around singing ‘Kumbaya.’ And in a lesson to parents and Torah teachers, he asks whether their kids/students really WANT to be frum?
by ANT KATZ | Jun 29, 2014

Two new posts for growing band of fans

Asks whether their kids/students really WANT to be frum?

Kotzk Blog 4 and Kotzk Blog 5 were both published on SAJR Online today. And, if the past few weeks are anything to go by, they will again become sensationally popular reads and inspire many comments from users of the website.

RavGav’s secret desire he never dared express to anybody

In KOTZK BLOG 4, suitably entitled: If you don’t enjoy davening…this may be for you – Rabbi Michal writes: “I think many people’s view of religion is that it is eighty percent prayer\study and twenty percent good deeds.

“In some circles,” he continues, “the eighty percent prayer\study is probably quite accurate. I haven’t yet got the stats on the latter,” he adds glibly.

“What about those who perhaps don’t feel like praying for so long?” he asks. “This is for them. I feel for those poor souls who come to Shul and are so frustrated by the fact that they’re almost held hostage by an inordinately long service.”

Once again Rabbi Michal turns to the writings of the Kotzker for answers.

“If you enjoy a slow davening, you are well within your rights. Continue to do so, he suggests, but for those who have tried and still feel their eyelids getting heavier, “Know that you are not alone,” he advises.

“I have read that in Kotzk they used to daven for no more than fifteen minutes on a weekday. ‘Yikes’ I thought when I read this,” says Rabbi Michal. “This has always been my secret desire but I never dared express it to anybody.”

“Sometimes I think we are turning people away from Shul because Shul is too long,” he writes. “The Kotzker Rebbe was frum. And he understood the prayers. And he prayed with sincerity… And he still managed to do all that, without a fuss.”

Read the full blog: If you don’t enjoy davening…this may be for you


Not all children of old hippies go around singing ‘Kumbaya’


KOTZK BLOG 5 – also published on SAJR ONLINE for the first time today, is provocatively entitled: Yes, but do you really want to be frum? Rabbi Michal engages his readers with what he refers to as a tired old joke: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb…One, but the light bulb must really want to change?”

Michal then gets serious, pointing out: “Many of our religious youth today are first generation frum born. The parents know what it is like to want to learn about Torah. But they sometimes forget that their children aren’t necessarily born with that same passion,” he writes.

They can throw money at religious schools and their children can move on to Yeshivas, says Rabbi Michal, “Yet sometimes these children crash.”

What it comes down to, says Michal, is whether you helped your kids to “want to learn… A good parent, or for that matter a good Torah teacher, is defined not by how much they teach, but by how much they inspire their children to want to learn.”

Read this short blog: Yes, but do you really want to be frum? - it is packed with wisdom seldom spoken.

Concludes Rabbi Michal: “The Kotzker became great not because he was great, not because his teacher was great… but because he wanted to become great.”



Rabbi Gavin Michal is a student of the philosophical teachings of the Kotzker Rebbe. His short philosophical offerings from the inspirational words of the Kotzker Rebbe have become the stuff of legend since he started publishing them some years ago on MyShtetl. Rabbi Michal built his own congregation, Baal Shem Tov, in Orange Grove almost two decades ago, and has a thriving congregation.

Rabbi Michal says that “In these blogs, I have tried to present as accurately as I can, many of the teachings of the Rebbe of Kotzk that have absolutely captivated me personally.”


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