Teachings of the Sages – 5th Teves, 5773

The Teachings of Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz and His Disciple, Rebbe Raphael of Bershad


“In the city of Ostrow one Shavuos three prominent tzaddikim—the city’s rav, the town’s maggid, and the renowned tzaddik R’ Pinchas’l of Koritz, all talmidim of the eminent Baal Shem Tov—were deliberating the inyan [matter] of spreading grass on the ground on this holiday. Their interpretations varied one from the other, the Gemara concurring with none satisfactorily. R’ Pinchas’l, aware of the greatness of the ailing R’ Hirsch who lived in a rundown hovel on the outskirts of Ostrow, suggested they visit the impoverished old man to wish him a good Yom Tov and perchance he would offer some illuminating insights. After all, R’ Pinchas’l had once heard his rebbe, the great chassidic master himself, declare that it was the zechus [merit] of R’ Hirsch that protected the town from various adversities.

“The tzaddikim found R’ Hirsch sitting on his bed engrossed in the Shulchan Aruch. He asked them to be seated on the only other furnishing in the bare room—a broken bench that leaned against a wall for support. R’ Hirsch, in response to their quandary, expounded on a narration in the Gemara: R’ Ada had once decided to leave his home and family in order to spend his time learning in a yeshiva. To his wife’s voiced concern regarding their children’s welfare and how she would go about feeding them in his absence, R’ Ada proffered simply ‘Mi shelimu kurmei b’agmah?—Has all the grass in the field dispersed?’ R’ Hirsch intoned, ‘Now what kind of an answer is that? And yet his wife was appeased. Did he mean to infer that she take her hungry children out to the field and feed them grass, like the animals? Animals, lacking the intelligence to seek parnassa [livelihood], are entirely dependent on their Creator’s benevolence. Had man not deemed to act against G-d’s directive and eat from the eitz hadaas [Tree of Knowledge], he too would have basked in the bounteousness of his Creator without sweat or headache. But since he thought himself to be smart enough to be his own boss, he now scrambles for a living by constant exertion. Nonetheless, he who harbors true faith in G-d, believing wholeheartedly that Hashem is the “nosein lechem lechol bassar” [the giver of bread to all flesh] is granted ease of parnassa … with the compassion He confers upon the animal that is totally reliant on His chesed [kindness]. By referring to the grass in the field, R’ Ada essentially assured his wife that with ultimate faith in Hashem, they would never go hungry’”

“To Believe Is to Achieve,” at Kosher.com (C)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

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