11 Thoughts and Sayings of Rav Shneur Kotler, zt”l

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l (1918-1982), was the second Rosh Yeshiva of BMG in Lakewood and grew the Yeshiva from a few hundred bochurim and yungeleit to well over 1000.  Since then, it has become one of the pre-eminent Torah institutions in the world – indeed, throughout history.  The following comprise some of his thoughts and sayings.  They were culled from close talmidim, family members and his maamarim.

  1. The purpose of our life is to take from potential into action – the Divine Image and the light of Torah that are hidden within us.
  2. The Avodah of the Psil tcheiles, the blue fringe on the tzitzis, is that it reminds a person of the ocean, then it reminds the person of the firmaments, the rakiah. Then it reminds the person of the kisei hakavod.  The question is, why this entire process?  Why shouldn’t the person just carry a sign reminding him to think of the Kisei HaKavod? The answer is that it is not so simple.  He would become used to the sign right away, and eventually, it will have zero impact.  If, however, it was an Avodah, a step by step thought process – then it will have a lasting impact.  This is the nature of a person – of which the Torah was well aware.
  3. Constantly working on improving one’s ruchnius thoughout one’s life – is tantamount to Maaseh Bereishis itself.
  4. The Shechinah only dwells in Klal Yisroel when we are k’ish echad.
  5. The true acquisition of our chailek in Torah can only be obtained after the perfection of our character traits.
  6. Working hard with ameilus in Torah during yissurim – creates a sea-change within the individual.
  7. A person is obligated to constantly grow and to emulate the malachim themselves.
  8. The value and importance of an action is dependent upon the nature of the intent that one had when the action was first performed.
  9. The influence of any action is three-fold – it is immediate; it is upon the future; and it is upon countless generations of one’s own descendants.
  10. We can learn a lot from the sons of Korach. In the shir shel yom of Monday, we see that the Bnei Korach thought that if they could be in a leadership position – they could then achieve unparalelled closeness to Hashem.  The truth is, they learned, that every person, wherever he is – has a potential for unparalleled dveikus.
  11. Acts of chessed (lovingkindness) have within them the ability to change the very laws that Hashem set forth in Creation itself.
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