Rabbi Pinchas Of Koritz
One of the truly holy and saintly Hasidic rabbis was the famous Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz. Many tales are told of him, including the following:
Among the legendary early Hasidic rabbis was the famous Saba (grandfather) of Spola. Among his hasidim was a man who was blessed with wealth but who lacked the one thing he wanted more than anything else – a child.
Every time he would visit Saba he would ask him to bless him with the hope of a son. The rabbi, however, never did so.
One time, as the rabbi sat deep in thought while greatly troubled by the particularly critical times in which Jews found themselves, the hasid arrived and, once again, began to persist in asking him about his personal problem.
“Please,” said the rabbi, “not now. I am busy dealing with the troubles of the entire Jewish people and I cannot – at this time – deal with one personal problem.”
Far From A Blessing
The hasid, however, thought to himself that it was an appropriate time for the granting of his request, and he continued to bother Saba.
“Rabbi, I will not move from here until you have given me a blessing that I will have a son.”
Because of his deep preoccupation with the serious problem facing the Jewish people, Saba grew angry at what he considered the selfishness of the hasid and he cried out angrily:
“Because you persist so, I tell you that you are destined never to have children for the rest of your life!”
The hasid was staggered by the words and he left for his home, disheartened. He never went back to Saba as the days passed.
One week preceding Passover, the hasid had business in the town of Koritz and he happened to go into the beis midrash (House of Study). There, sitting deep in study, was Rabbi Pinchas.
One look at the face and the shining eyes of the great rabbi told the hasid that he was in the presence of a great man. He thought to himself:
“Can there yet be hope for me? Perhaps this man will find some way to answer my prayers.”
Knowing that the rabbi was a very poor man, he went to the house and introduced himself to the rebbetzin.
“I am a stranger in town, and I am looking for a place where I might spend Passover. I wonder if it would be possible for me to stay here?”
“Certainly,” answered the rebbetzin, “but there is nothing in the house. We are very, very poor and there will not even be enough for ourselves.”
“Do not worry about that,” replied the hasid. “I will take care of all that in payment for your hospitality.”
Passover arrived and when Rabbi Pinchas came home from the synagogue for the first Seder, his face lit up with happiness as he beheld his household.
There on the table, covered with a spotless white tablecloth, was wine, matzahs, delicious food and all that was necessary for the finest holiday Seder. His wife greeted Rabbi Pinchas with a smiling face, saying:
“Here is a brand new kittel (robe) to wear at the Seder.”
“I do not understand. Where does all this come from? Where did you get the money for all this?”
“This is [due to] all the generosity of our Passover guest,” replied the rebbetzin.
Rabbi Pinchas looked up in surprise as the ha-sid walked over and introduced himself.
“Welcome,” said Rabbi Pinchas, “and we thank you for helping to make our Passover so joyous.”
The Seder Is Concluded
They immediately sat down and began to celebrate the Seder. With deep feeling and immense emotion, Rabbi Pinchas went through the entire ritual. His wise words of Torah, which explained the difficult portions of the Haggada, were thirstily drunk in by the hasid, who marveled at Rabbi Pinchas’s piety and wisdom.
Thus, the Seder went through from beginning to end. But Rabbi Pinchas, in the midst of his own joy, noticed that the hasid was unhappy. Beneath the mask of serenity lay a deeply troubled soul.
At the end of the Seder, Rabbi Pinchas turned to the man and said: “The Ba’al Shem Tov said that it is impossible for the spirit of G-d to rest upon a man who is not happy. And because of this, we say in our prayers, ‘And remove from us suffering and sighs and then rule over us, L-rd, with grace and mercy.’”
“You have removed from me trouble and sor-row, and it is only right that you, too, share in this moment of complete happiness. Is there anything that troubles you greatly?”
“Yes, Rabbi. I am childless and I desire a child more than anything else.”
“If there is any merit within me,” said Rabbi Pinchas, “I will use it to promise you that within a year, your wife will be holding a child of her own.”
And so, the blessing of Rabbi Pinchas overcame the words of Saba. The hasidim say that this was because the great Rabbi Pinchas never uttered a false oath in his life.
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Page last updated - 05/12/2006