Teachings of the Sages 21st Tishrei 5770

Two Tzadiks

ON SADNESS AND FEAR

R’ Pinchas said: “V’yordim bo, V’hi’nei Hashem nitzov olov, v’hi’nei Hashem nitzov olov. … Even when a person feels a descent, things are going badly, Hashem is there for him”.*

*Nofeth Tzufim, Ch. 28, v. 12,13 (A), cited in “Chasidic Insights,” by Zvi Akiva Fleisher (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 20th Tishrei 5770

Two Tzadiks

ON SADNESS AND FEAR

R’ Pinchas said: “When a person is afraid of something, he is actually subjugated to that very thing. If he is not afraid, he remains above it”.*

*Imrei Pinchas HaShalem, Bereishit 13 (A, B), cited in “Two Types of Warfare,” in In All Your Ways: A Guide to Avodas HaShem, by Yaacov Meir Shechter (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 19th Tishrei 5770

Two Tzadiks

ON SADNESS AND FEAR

R’ Pinchas said: “If a person constantly keeps his mind focused on doing good deeds, his mind will be free from thoughts that lead to sadness”.*

*Nofeth Tzufim (A), cited in “Free of Sadness,” at A Simple Jew (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 18th Tishrei 5770

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Pinchas said: “When you believe that everything is from Him, blessed be He, then there is no evil or bad at all—there is just all good”*

*Tosefta l’Midrash Pinhas, no. 187 (A), cited in Jewish Spiritual Practices, by Yitzhak Buxbaum, p. 16 (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 16th Tishrei 5770

 

Teachings of the Sages – 16th Tishrei, 5770

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

“And Yaacov called to his children and said to them, ‘Gather together and I will reveal to you what will be your lot in the end of days.’ So they gathered together and they listened to their father Yisrael” (Genesis 49:1-2). What was the character of this gathering? R’ Pinchas of Koretz, a student as well as a colleague of the Baal Shem Tov, suggested that this gathering can be explained by the Talmudic expression, ‘Aseh oznecha k’afarkesis.’ (Make your ears like a funnel. Strain your ears to hear?listen well to what is being said. Chullin 89a). He explained in the name of his friend and fellow student of the Baal Shem Tov, R’ Nachman of Horodenka, that sometimes there is a limit to what can be accomplished by Yisrael even through prayer. A Jew’s transgressions simply make it impossible for him to bridge the distance between himself and the Creator. What can be done? The distance can be bridged only in one way; by every Jew joining together, hand in hand until this Jewish chain reaches all the way to the Throne of Glory. Then Hashem surely will not be able to ignore our entreaties. This is the meaning of “Aseh oznecha k’afarkesis.” Jews need to learn from the Tribes, the sons of Yaacov who gathered together to hear their revered father’s final words, to consolidate all their ears together until they become one enormous ear. Such an ear is surely capable of hearing everything. Since the Talmud says, ‘All Jews bear ultimate responsibility one for the other’ (Shavuos 39a), in this way nothing will be missed, no nuance neglected. The lessons needed to be learned will be grasped, and we will always be able to help each other to go in a proper path of Divine Service”*

*“Parshat Vayechi,” at Nishmas Chayim (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 14th Tishrei 5770

 

Teachings of the Sages – 14th Tishrei, 5770

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

“Someone once came to Rav Pinchas of Koretz, zt”l, and asked a question that was obviously troubling him. ‘In Taanis 9, we find that Chazal [our Sages] cite the phrase … “you shall surely give a tenth of your earnings,” and reinterpret the second word as t’asheir instead of t’aser. This alters the meaning to, “Give a tenth, so that you will become wealthy.” Here we have an assurance that if we faithfully give away a tenth of our earnings, we will be successful financially. I have given ma’aser [a tithe] assiduously my whole life. Why, then, have I have not merited wealth?’ Rav Pinchas answered, ‘Let me tell you a true story about my neighbor that sheds light on your question. My neighbor is a wagon driver. He has good horses and he cares for them with great devotion, always providing them with the best food and shelter possible. As expected, the horses have always performed well, and they run with great endurance in all types of weather. One time, the horses failed to follow orders. Although they were hitched to their wagon and primed to travel, they simply refused to move. Since their owner knew that his animals lacked nothing, their obstinacy infuriated him. He figured that they needed to be taught a lesson. He began to beat them, all the while repeating his command that they start moving. An onlooker shouted at the wagon driver, “You are cruel to your animals! They have done nothing wrong! How can you expect them to move if you have the brakes engaged?” This is your problem too,’ explained the Rav. ‘Giving ma’aser can propel one’s financial success forward just as the horses hitched to the wagon will propel it toward its destination. However, if the brakes are engaged at the same time, the driver won’t get anywhere at all. If you are braking by failing to observe Shabbos and kashrus properly, the horses are not to blame for your inability to reach your goal. You must release the [brake] mechanism by doing teshuvah [repentance] and changing your behavior!’”*

*“Stories of the Daf,” in Daf Yomi Digest (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 15th Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 15th Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

“Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz entered the House of Study, and his disciples fell into a profound silence. He asked: ‘What were you talking about just now?’ ‘We were saying how afraid we were that the Yetzer [hara, evil inclination] will pursue us.’ ‘Don’t worry,’ said he. ‘You haven’t reached that point yet. Right now, you are still pursuing it!’”*

*Day by Day: Reflections on the Themes of the Torah from Literature, Philosophy, and Religious Thought, by Chaim Stern, p. 9. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 14th Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 14th Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Raphael said that R’ Pinchas had often reminded him of the Baal Shem Tov’s warning to avoid pettiness when performing religious duties.*

*Midrash Pinhas, p. 41 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, p. 266 (B)

By Rabbi Refael of Barshad zs”l

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 13th Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 13th Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

“The Talmud tells us that Torah study in the days of Rav Yehudah was nowhere near as extensive or penetrating as that of later generations; his students devoted all their time to one tractate—Nezikin, the laws of damages. Yet, in a period of drought, Rav Yehudah only had to remove a single shoe to signal the onset of a fast, and the rain would come pouring down. Later generations mastered the entire Talmud with the greatest subtlety, yet they could not produce such salvation. The holy Rav Pinchas of Koritz commented: ‘The Talmud says that their studies were entirely over how to avoid damages. That is: how not to damage the mouth with loshon harah, how not to damage the eyes with forbidden glances, how not to damage the body with non-kosher foods. This gave them such spiritual merit that even the slightest prayer, as in the case of Rav Yehudah, immediately brought about rain’”.*

*Ms. Jerusalem 3759, fol. 127b (A), cited in Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, by Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer, pp. 195-196. Reprinted with permission of Magnes Press (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 12th Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 12th Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Raphael said: “Nothing, great and small, could exist were it not for His help. We find that all the obstacles [to observing the] prohibitions, or even thoughts, are from the Almighty alone. And without His ‘help,’ I would become a meshumad [apostate]. But if you ignore this principle, you may think that you are ‘something’ and value yourself as a man of virtue [a sheiner yid]. [You say to yourself,] ‘I went away from sin and I am clean of sin.’ But the result is that G-d leaves him, for every haughty-hearted person is an abomination to G-d, and he and I cannot live [in the same place]. Then he finds himself in the grasp of his Urge and be caught in its trap and do whatever it tempts him to do. And [R. Pinhas] said that all this is because of the compassion of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His great kindness which is continuously over the soul, he is seduced in order to fail through a [small] thing in order to remind him that without the help of G-d he is worth nothing. [If] he does not remember through a small thing, he would stumble in a great thing until he comes to … [unclear] the belief in his own power … Then he must break himself very much, until he knows that he himself becomes nothing and very small, and then he becomes a vessel prepared to accept help and assistance from G-d, may He be blessed”.*

*Ms. Jerusalem 3759, fol. 127b (A), cited in Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, by Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer, pp. 195-196. Reprinted with permission of Magnes Press (B)

By Rabbi Refael of Barshad zs”l

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 8th Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 8th Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Raphael said: “See not evil in another and good in thyself, but see good in another, and evil in thyself. … Criticize not another’s conduct, but only thine own”.*

*Midrash Pinhas, p. 44 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, p. 507. Reprinted with permission of Ann Newman (B)

By Rabbi Refael of Barshad zs”l

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 5th Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 5th Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Pinchas said: “It is true that G-d is able to do whatsoever He wills. But man has the similar power, by virtue of his free will”.*

*Nofeth Tzufim, pp. 50-52 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, p. 507. Reprinted with permission of Ann Newman (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 3rd Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 3rd Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Pinchas said: “A man cannot be consciously good unless he knows evil. No one can appreciate pleasure unless he has tasted bitterness. Good is only the reverse of evil, and pleasure is merely the opposite of anxiety. … And G-d said: ‘There can be no goodness in man while he is alone without an evil impulse within him. I will endow him with the ability to do evil, and it will be as a help-meet to him to enable him to do good, if he masters the evil nature within him.’ Without the evil impulse, man could do no evil; but neither could he do good”.*

*Nofeth Tzufim, p. 52 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, p. 97. Reprinted with permission of Ann Newman (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 1st Elul 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 1st Elul, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Pinchas said: “It is possible for a person to correct the world, while the evil continues to cling to him. The Besht revealed this thing [to Menahem Mendel of Bar]: that one must descend to Gehinnom on behalf of G-d, may He be blessed. And this is alluded to in the gemara [Talmudic aphorism], ‘Greater is a sin for its own sake [than a mitzvah for its own sake]’”.*

*Pe’er la-Yesharim, Horayot 10b, Nazir 23b (A), cited in Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, by Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer, p. 36. Reprinted with permission of Magnes Press (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 30th Av 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 30th Av, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

The Koretzer Rebbe said: “Within us are all the qualities, good and evil, … but they are unborn, and we have the power to beget them. We can transform evil qualities into good, and good into evil”.*

*“Where Was Humanity? Understanding Human Evil,” by Arnold S. Gluck (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 29th Av 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 29th Av, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Pinchas said: “A righteous person does not take leave of this world until he does a great mitzvah, and in this way he insures that he will cleave to Hashem”.*

*Imrei Pinchas HaShalem (A, B), cited in “Parshat Pinchas,” by Chaim Brovender (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 28th Av 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 28th Av, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON GOOD AND EVIL

R’ Pinchas said: “G-d esteems highly the good deeds of men that are known only to those who perform them and their Maker”.*

*Nofeth Tzufim, pp. 3-24 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, p. 506. Reprinted with permission of Ann Newman (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 27th Av 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 27th Av, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE

“One time the Rov [Rebbe Pinchas] came into the Beis HaMidrash [house of study] and saw a shtender [lectern]. He said that even this shtender is being judged on Rosh HaShanah if it will last the year or break”.*

*Imrei Pinchas HaShalem, p. 123 (A, B), cited in “Chassidus: Derech HaBaal Shem Tov,” by Moshe Shulman (C)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 26th Av 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 26th Av, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE

R’ Pinchas said that even a piece of straw lying on the ground does so at G-d’s decree. Divine Providence dictates that it lies with one end facing this way and the other end facing the other way.*

*Divine Providence, in The Jewish Religion: A Companion, by Louis Jacobs (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages 24th Av 5769

 

Teachings of the Sages – 24th Av, 5769

Two Tzadiks

ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE

Although many Jewish theologians, including Maimonides, thought that Divine Providence was limited to human beings, in proportion to their intellectual and moral character, R’ Pinchas of Koretz believed that Providence extends even to inanimate objects.*

*Providence, in Judaism: History, Belief and Practice, by Dan Cohn-Sherbok (B)

By Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz

Source: Two Tzaddiks

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