Like a smokeless fire…

On my drive home one day last week, I was listening a podcast about Tefillah and heard the following quote:

There should always be a fire, but you shouldn’t be able to see the smoke. – Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
I almost had to stop the car.  What a powerful saying.  It is referring to our avodah (in this case davening) and how we have sustain a certain level of passion and enthusiasm, yet, in true Kotzker style, we shouldn’t draw attention to ourselves.

Schukeling during daving is fine, as I tell my son, but it’s not the main avodah of davening.  Wanting to be a role model for our families (and ourselves) and not drawing too much attention to oneself is a fine line line.  Most people who are really humble don’t draw attention to themselves, yet they make an impact.  That’s is what the Kotzker is saying.  Just because there’s a fire, you don’t have to see the smoke.

6 thoughts on “Like a smokeless fire…

  1. Shmuel

    That’s really a powerful thought. There was a point when I was in yeshiva and I used to “leave” my sifrei chassidut on the table or walk around with some obscure sefer – and then I realized that I was looking for the attention, and it made me reconsider how I was going about things (Rav Weinberger mentioned something similar a while back in one of the Orot HaTorah shiurim).

    It also doesn’t work as well if you’re consciously trying to be a role model for your kids – it has to be real and happen organically, and they will take notice.

  2. Neil Harris

    Rabbi P Krohn tells a story that he was once leaving a hotel in the mountains after a Shabbaton and decided to clear the snow off of a bunch of cars before he left. He then drove home and told his family. Not to be a Baal Guyvaah, but to show his family that we have look for Chessed opportunities.

  3. Mr. Cohen

    My New Hashkafah of Shidduchim 🙂

    My new hashkafah of shidduchim is thanking and praising HASHEM always 🙂

    Even when my dating experiences are far from pleasant, I realize that HASHEM is guiding my life with His infinite wisdom and abundant love, and exact precision that only He is capable of 🙂

    HASHEM always knows what is truly good for me, even when I do not 🙂

    Often what I need most is atonement and humility, so G_d gives me those precious things through unpleasant dating experiences 🙂

    I now realize that I must always thank HASHEM for ALL of my dating experiences, because even the worst dates are for my eternal benefit, because they provide me with precious atonement and humility 🙂

    Tractate Avot teaches that the reward for a good deed is proportionate to its difficulty; by giving me difficult dating experiences, HASHEM is providing me with greater reward for Olam HaBa, in addition to precious atonement and humility 🙂

    G_d loves me even more than I love myself, and He would never give me an unpleasant dating experience unless it was for my eternal benefit in both Olam HaZeh and Olam HaBa 🙂


    Thank you for all my dating experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant or mediocre 🙂
    You are always guiding me with endless wisdom and love; You always help me and give me everything I need 🙂

    I regret all the times I complained;
    instead of complaining, I should have been busy thanking You.

  4. PG

    1) Uber – you’re obsession with not calling attention to yourself calls attention to yourself. Why don’t you just be yourself? Re P. Krohn: Unnecessary chessed seems ungenuine.
    2) New Hashkafa – your hashkafa is unsustainable. Maybe a little more hishtadlus and self-awareness can get you moving. Best of luck.
    3) Uber – here’s a real issue – why do you daven at all?

    Thanks for your time.


  5. Micha Berger

    I am reminded of RJBS’s idea, which he says is the family mesorah, which says that a person’s emotions are the Qodesh haQadashim. Lifnai velifnim. Not for display to the public.

    Nothing I manage to live by. I wear my emotions on my sleeve.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *