Teachings of the Sages – 27th Kislev, 5773

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

ON FAITH

A disciple, tormented by wavering faith and unable to study, came to see R’ Pinchas. The rebbe responded that, as a young man, he, too, had wrestled with questions and doubts. “About man and his fate, creation and its meaning. I was struggling with so many dark forces that I could not advance; I was wallowing in doubt, locked in despair. I tried study, prayer, meditation. Penitence, silence, solitude. In vain. My doubts remained doubts, my questions remained threats. Impossible to proceed, to project myself into the future. I simply could not go on.” Then, one day, when the Baal Shem Tov was visiting his town, R’ Pinchas was led by curiosity to attend the gathering. “I was convinced that he was seeing me and no one else. … The intensity of his gaze overwhelmed me, and I felt less alone. And strangely, I was able to go home, open the Talmud, and plunge into my studies once more. You see, … the questions remained questions. But I was able to go on”

Four Hasidic Masters and Their Struggle against Melancholy, by Elie Wiesel, pp. 1-3. Copyright © 1978 by Elie Wiesel. Reprinted with permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of Elirion Associates (B)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

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Teachings of the Sages – 23rd Kislev, 5773

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

ON FAITH

R’ Raphael said that he had asked his master, R’ Pinchas, how to strengthen his faith and trust in G-d, and he replied: “Only the young require such advice. A mature Jew has had sufficient experience to trust in G-d’s constant watchfulness over him”

Midrash Pinhas, p. 41 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, pp. 278-279. Reprinted with permission of Ann Newman (B)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

Teachings of the Sages – 22nd Kislev, 5773

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

ON SELF-NEGATION

“According to R. Pinhas there is no substitute for absolute humility, hence miracles are never the outcome of concerted effort, as in the case of the effort of the Maggid during prayer. Miracles and changes in nature cannot be attained by means of contemplative prayer and the deliberate stripping away of the physical during prayer, but arise only from the annihilation of the ego. … At the base of R. Pinhas’ passive attitude … is his great sensitivity to the potential for spiritual self-deception, and his recognition that every spiritual and religious effort includes the dangerous pitfall of pride that contradicts all possibility for life within the Ayin [nought]. R. Pinhas connects the world of Ayin with the transformations that arise from direct Divine intervention in the world. What is novel in his writings is his emphasis on the importance of not knowing, on the removal of self-consciousness, that is, pride. … Annihilation of the ego is a state of spiritual torpor and folly … But just as the secret of renewal in nature resides in sleep and awakening, thus the more foolish a man is in his own eyes, the more he is spiritually and physically renewed. These ideas should be understood in the light of R. Pinhas’ extremely passive doctrine concerning spiritual techniques. Spiritual wonder and real renewal are recognizable in their being a gift from above and what is really given to man is his self-contraction”.

New models of the sacred leader at the beginning of Hasidism, by Ron Margolin, in Saints and Role Models in Judaism and Christianity, edited by Joshua Schwartz and Marcel Poorthuis, pp. 388-389 (B)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

Teachings of the Sages – 21st Kislev, 5773

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

ON SELF-NEGATION

R’ Pinchas said: “Great miracles can be performed for a man who truly considers himslf nothing [ayin]. For our Father Abraham, when he went to do battle with kings (Genesis 14), did not rely upon miracles. Rather, he went with sword and buckler, for he was on the level of ayin, and the Holy One performed miracles for him and took rocks [hardened soil] which He cast upon them, and so he conquered them. Therefore, it is stated of Nahum Ish Gam-zu that he took of the dust of Father Abraham (Ta’anit 21a), i.e., the quality of ayin which is symbolized by dust, for dust represents the most inferior level [of humility]. Therefore was that miracle performed for him. A man who is on the level of ayin is worthy of having the Shekhinah rest upon him. For of the Holy One we know that the whole world is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3); therefore, when man considers himself to be ‘something,’ G-d is not within him”.

Midrash Pinhas, p. 27b, no. 38 (A), cited in The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary, by Norman Lamm, pp. 444-445 (B)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

Teachings of the Sages – 20th Kislev, 5773

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

ON SELF-NEGATION

R’ Raphael said: “He who wishes truly to live should also wish to be more insignificant than anyone else”.

Midrash Pinhas, p. 42 (A), cited in The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim, by Louis I. Newman, p. 189. Reprinted with permission of Ann Newman (B)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

Teachings of the Sages – for 19th Kislev, 5773

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

ON SELF-NEGATION

R’ Pinchas said: “The divine is most present when I myself am most absent”

-Freedomlaw, by R.J. Tavel (C)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks

Teachings of the Sages – for 17th Kislev, 5773

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

ON THE IMMANENCE OF G-D

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him” (Proverbs 3:6). “The following remark is attributed to Rabbi Pinhas of Koretz: ‘How then is it possible to know G-d in all ways? It is, because when G-d gave the Torah, the whole world was filled with the Torah. Thus there is nothing which did not contain Torah, and this is the meaning of the verse. Whoever says that the Torah is one thing and the profane sphere another is a heretic’” .

Martin Buber’s interpretation of Hasidism, by Gershom G. Scholem, in The Jewish Expression, edited by Judah Goldin, p. 407 (B)

SOURCE: Two Tzaddiks