I have always been drawn to the teaching of the Rebbe of Kotzk. His approach was predicated upon uncompromising truth and intellectual independence.This allowed him to be fearless and never to succumb to societal pressures.
He knew that Judaism was so much deeper and more profound than the way it was perceived by the masses and bent by religious populism.
These essays, although not necessarily Kotzker in essence, are certainly Kotzk inspired.
Letter from R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi to his father-in-law, telling him he will be coming home soon:
Thursday (Parshat) B0 5530 (1770).
May G-d cause to flow for you, life and peace, Mr., my father-in-law, the observant philanthropic overseer, exceptional at Torah and fear (of G-d), our master and rabbi, Yehudah Leib Segal y’n, of Vitebsk:
G-d willing, in a month’s time, I shall return home, with the agreement of the honourable and holy, our master, teacher and rabbi, the holy Maggid (of Mezeritch)n’y.
Peace to (greet) all your family, may they live, and to my wife, may she live.
From your son-in-law who seeks your welfare,
Shneur Zalman, son of our teacher the rabbi Baruch, may his merit (remain) in the life of the world to come.
Letter from R. Shlomo of Karlin to the Maggid of Mezeritch asking to be remembered in prayer as he was of ill health:
Thursday (Parshat) Beshalach 5530 (1770).
With trembling and with perspiration I bow to the honourable master, teacher and rabbi (the Maggid of Mezeritch) before whom all praise is quiet (inadequate), speaker of truth, of the holy community of Rovno, may you live forever.
I am not in good health (at this time) and (my illness) is preventing me from Torah and prayer.
(Please) send me your word (prayer) and heal me with G-d’s help.
Through the means of the observant bearer of this letter, (please) accept a panon behalf of your lowly servant,
Letter from the Maggid of Mezeritch to his son R. Avraham, telling him to listen to R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi:
Thursday (Parshat) Emor 5530 (1770). Rovno.
To my holy son Mr. Avrahamene, may you live.
I received your letter and am too weak to elaborate (at length) but I will write in short – whatever my student, the holy rabbi Mr. Zalmina, n’y, tells you (to do) listen to his voice, for every sound which emanates from his mouth is (directed) by the holy spirit.
From your father who loves your forever and who blesses you with all good. Sela.
Letter from R. Aharon of Karlin to R. Chaim Chaike of Hamdura, requesting him to remember him to the Maggid for good health, and in return, R. Aharon will bring handwritten manuscripts of R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Maggid.
Monday (Parshat) Korach 5530 (1770), here in the holy community of Karlin.
To the beloved of my soul, the rabbi, the holy chassid, the holy lamp, the crown of Israel etc., our teacher the rabbi, our rabbi R. Chaim Chaike, y’n, from Humdura.
After inquiring after your good health, I (wish to) inform you, honourable and holy one, that thank G-d, my health situation is much better but I am not yet (completely) healthy.
I am sure that in the coming days, you - honourable and holy one - will welcome the holy presence of the holy one, our, teacher and rabbi, the holy and awesome (Maggid of Mezeritch), may he live forever. Amen.
Please remember me to him for complete health, for a long and peaceful life.
(Please) pass on to the honourable and holy, y’n, (Maggid, the news), that I will soon, G-d willing be ascending to the house of G-d to bask in the splendour of his pleasantness.
And I will bring as a gift of (first) fruits, holy handwritten manuscripts, which G-d has placed into my hands, which belonged to the holy rabbi R. Adam Baal Shem Tov, zal.
For now, (wishing you) peace and all good. Sela.
Beloved of my soul, in truth,
The insignificant Aharon, son of my master my father, the holy rabbi, may his merit protect us, of Karlin.
With the joy of my heart and soul, (to) the holy rabbi who is like an angel of G-d etc., our teacher the rabbi, Avraham, y’n, son of the honourable and holy, our master, teacher and rabbi, the rabbi the Maggid, y’n.
Please remember me to the honourable and holy, our master, teacher and rabbi, y’n, (for a) complete healing.
This last Tuesday my right ear was discharging moisture.
(Please) give a pan of 58 X 78 (4,524 coins) on my behalf (to your father the Maggid).
From the one who believes in the absolute Healer, and in his servant...(words missing).
Letter from R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi to his wife, Sterna, with advice from the Maggid of Mezeritch for her pregnancy.
Tuesday (Parshat) Ekev 5530 (1770) Rovno.
To my wife, Mrs. Sterna, may you live.
Our master, teacher and rabbi, the rabbi the Maggid (of Mezeritch) may he live forever, instructed me (to inform you) that throughout your pregnancy, you should drink a glass of milk with a spoon of honey.
And I believe with perfect faith that this will help you - with G-d’s help.
Letter from R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi to the Maggid of Mezeritch, defending R, Zusha of Anipoli from a charge of subordination.
Sunday (Parshat) Vayeshev 5531 (1771) Laperet Katan, here in the community of Leozni.
I bow in salutation face down at your footstool, the holy of holies, our master, teacher and rabbi, the head of all the children of the exile, to whom all praise is silent, our teacher and rabbi, the rabbi the Maggid, the holy one, our teacher the rabbi D’(ov) B’(er) of Rovno, may you live forever. Sela vaed.
After inquiring after your welfare, holy one, y’n, I withdraw out of fear and out of respect (but I must point out that) the beloved of my soul the righteous rabbi, our teacher the rabbi. Zusha, y’n, did (in fact) say Torah – (but) I testify that it was not in the city (of Rovno) where you (the Maggid) reside.
G-d forbid (that R. Zusha would do such a thing)!
Rather it was on the way (out of the town) and I was travelling with him.
(It was only) then that he said (an interpretation) on the verse; “And I will pour out blessing without end...”
And he spoke very dearly.
Also the holy rabbi, y’ n, our teacher the rabbi Rabbi Nachman (of Horodenka), y’ n, speaker of truth – also heard (the interpretation).
Therefore do not become angry, holy honourable one, our master, teacher and rabbi, y’ n, at such a holy and pure (person) like this.
This (all) I assure you.
I bow in trepidation and fear (before you) and let us say ‘holy’,
Letter from the Maggid of Mezeritch, in which he offers to act as an intermediary, in order to settle a dispute over payment for books.
It was deposited with me (acting as the third party to a dispute,) 50 silver Rubbles from the philanthropist R. Moshe Ber Fishbein, n’(y), on the condition that, provided the (other) philanthropist R. Chaim Katz, n’ y, brings to me all the sections of the (books of the) Rambam, and the Tur with Beit Yosef and Bach, zal, - (then) I will immediately return the abovementioned amount of money to the abovementioned R. Chaim (Katz).
And I shall (insist on) a receipt (for the money, from R. Chaim Katz) with no counter claims or conditions.
This day, Monday (Parshat) Miketz 5531, here in the holy community of Anipoli,
Letter from R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi to the Maggid of Mezeritch, requesting he lift his three-month ban from visiting him.
Sunday (Parshat) Veyechi 5531. Shklov.
To the honourable and holy, our master, teacher and rabbi, the famous rabbi the Maggid (of Mezeritch), head of all the children of the exile, the crown of Israel, the master and rabbi from the holy community of Rovno.
I can no longer hold myself back.
It is true the (you) the honourable and holy (Maggid) n’y, instructed and commanded me that for three months I am prohibited from approaching the radience of (your) holy chair, for some hidden and unrevealed reason, which only you know.
But, to tell the truth, (I cannot keep your instruction) because there is no longer a soul within me.
All my 248 limbs and sinews are burning within me.
Please allow me to approach (yourself), no matter the consequences.
I am confident that all will be for the good.
Write to me and permit me to approach the innermost sanctum. Amen, netzach vaed.
A document from R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi stating that he was entrusted with money to be released only after the brother of R. Eliya(hu) of Ostroa is released from prison.
It was deposited with me 40 Adumim, from the rabbi, chassid and philanthropist, Mr. Eliy(hu) son of our teacher the rabbi, Pesach of Ostroa – on the condition that if G-d works a miracle for him and his brother is released to freedom, in the matter where he was unjustly incarcerated – then I will hand over the entire above-mentioned amount to our master, teacher and rabbi, the rabbi the Maggid (of Mezeritch), y’n.
All this was concluded on Wednesday (Parshat) Vayikra) 5531 (1771). Rovno.
Signed by Shneur Zalman, son of my father and teacher, our teacher the rabbi, Baruch, may his merit be in the life of the world to come.
Letter from R. Pinchas of Koretz to the Maggid of Mezeritch informing him he will be travelling to him after Shabbat to discuss mystical secrets.
Koretz. Wednesday(Parshat) Behar 5531 (1771) LaPeret Katan.
To the holy, beloved of my soul, our master, teacher and rabbi, my colleague the head of all the children of the exile, to whom all praise is silent (insufficient), our teacher the rabbi Dovber, truth speaker from the holy community of Rovno, Shelit(a).
I have received everything (you sent me).
G-d willing, after Shabbat Kodesh, I will come to your honourable and holy (presence), when we can (talk over) the sweet secrets (of mysticism).
From your true friend and student, (who is humbly) rolling in the dust at your footstool,
Letter from R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi to R. Avraham, son of the Maggid of Mezeritch, telling him he will try to keep all instructions of the Maggid and will fill him in later, in person, with all the details.
Sunday (Parshat) Shelach 5531 (1771).
To the holy and honourable, a man of G-d etc. Mr. Avraham, y’n, son of the honourable and holy, our master, teacher and rabbi, the rabbi the Maggid (of Mezeritch) y’n.
After enquiring after your health, (I want to let you know) that I received your holy letter on Erev Shabbat.
With all my strength and will I shall (try to) withhold the holy instructions of our holy master, teacher and rabbi, with particular (due) diligence.
In a few more weeks, I will come, G-d willing, to you, honourable and holy one, n’y, and then I will give over to you from mouth to holy ear all (the details) at length.
From your friend who loves you with an eternal spiritual love, and who seeks your welfare and the welfare of (your father) the honourable and holy rabbi, the holy Maggid (of Mezeritch), y’n.
Letter from R. Avraham, son of the Maggid of Mezeritch to R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi informing him of the instruction of his father not to fight a battle that is not his.
Tuesday (Parshat) Ekev 5531 (1771).
To my colleague and friend, the righteous, genius and holy Mr. Zalmina, n’y.
By the instruction of our master, teacher and rabbi (the Maggid of Mezeritch) n’y, (I am informing you) not to mix in a fight that is not yours.
He (his father the Maggid) said to me in the following (Yiddish) words: “Avrahamenye, Write (a letter) to my Zalman, may he live, that the day will come when he will (be required to really) have to fight for the sake of Heaven, and G-d willing, he will be successful.”
Letter from the Maggid of Mezeritch to R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, urgently telling him not to travel with an unnamed individual, before he is vetted by the holy brotherhood.
Erev Shabbat (Parshat) Ekev 5531 (1771) Rovno.
To my beloved the G-dly genius, the holy mystic, our teacher the rabbi R. Menachem Mendel, ny’v, from here in the holy abovementioned community (of Rovno).
I received your letter.
Even though I do not usually write letters on Erev Shabbat, because of the urgency of the matter I will abandon my norm and respond in short, while I should really respond at length;
I do not agree, under any circumstances in the world, that you travel with him (an unnamed individual) as one group.
Only under the following condition do I give consent: (you must first agree to) bring him (the unnamed individual), to me, G-d willing, after Shabbat Kodesh, when we will decide, together with the holy brotherhood (if you can travel together afterwards).
Your rabbi and teacher who blesses you with leadership,
(You remain) gracious in my eyes. Amen veAmen.
Dovber, son of our teacher, the rabbi, R. Avraham.
 R. Shlomo of Karlin (1740-1792) was adopted by R. Aharon of Karlin, the founder of the Karliner dynasty. R. Aharon passed away at a young age and R. Shlomo took over the leadership of the movement. R. Shlomo was in turn succeeded by R. Aharon’s son R. Asher. R. Shlomo was very friendly with R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi. R. Shlomo passed away at the age of 52, the same age as King Solomon, his namesake. He passed away on 22 Tamuz, and his Chassidim said that if they could, they would allow weddings on his yartzeit, even though it was during the Three Weeks.
 R. Shneur Zalman put the Maggid’s mind at rest that R. Zusha did not have the audacity and disrespect to deliver a sermon in Rovno, the town of the Maggid. That would have been seen as a sign of subordination.
T’y is an abbreviation for tachat yadi (into my hands).
 It appears as if there was a dispute over books and money: It seems as if R. Fishbein was reluctant to hand over the money before he had possession of the books – and R. Katz was reluctant to hand over the books before he had possession of the money. This stalemate was resolved by the intercession of the Maggid.
Tv’ m is an abbreviation for taaneh umaaneh (‘terms and conditions’).