Rebbe Pinchas Schapiro of Koritz (1725-1791), scion of a prominent rabbinic family, was an early Chassidic master and a direct descendant of Rabbi Natan Schapio, author of the Megaleh Amukot.1

He and his wife, Treina, daughter of Rabbi Yonah Weil of Slavita, had four children: Yehudah Meir, Moshe, Eliyahu, and Rachel Sheindel Sarah.

His descendants included the famous Schapiro brothers of Slavita, and Rabbi Meir Schapiro of Lublin, founder of the Daf Yomi learning cycle.

A collection of his teachings can be studied in Imrei Pinchas.


Rebbe Pinchas was an expert in emunah (faith). He studied Chovot HaLevavot (“Duties of the Heart”), a fundamental work on emunah, one thousand times.2 He was also an expert in the MaimonidesMoreh Nevuchim (“Guide for the Perplexed”), which broaches the topic from a philosophical angle.

In the introduction, Maimonides writes, “Even if just one person out of a thousand who studies this sefer will attain perfection of faith, writing it was worthwhile.”

Rebbe Pinchas was known to say, “Maimonides wrote it for me.”3

Meeting the Baal Shem Tov

It seems that Reb Pinchas first visited the Baal Shem Tov in his 30s, and that’s when he acquired brand new, chassidic insights into emunah.

For example, after a terrible earthquake, many claimed it as a sign that G‑d was displeased and that they needed to mend their ways.

Reb Pinchas scoffed at this, because as was an expert in geology he had known the earthquake was expected and considered it a natural event.

He shared his view with the Baal Shem Tov, who disagreed and explained, “That's the yetzer hara's trick; he makes everything appear like nature.”4

Under the Baal Shem Tov’s tutelage, he came to understand that even the most natural events are all destined and planned by the Almighty G‑d.

The Silent Teacher

Many of his Chassidic peers prayed loudly, swaying back and forth in order to increase their concentration. Rebbe Pinchas, however, stood still and prayed silently.5 He knew without a shadow of doubt that he was speaking to the King of the world, and didn't need to struggle to attain that awareness. His faith was firm.

In his youth, he was often called “the mute youth,” because he hardly spoke, preferring to devote all his time to Torah and prayer without interference. In fact, he once said, “If each word a person speaks isn’t as difficult as building an entire house, he hasn’t even begun serving G‑d.6

Because of his silence, people didn't recognize his expertise and scholarship.

On one occasion, a fellow facing doubts sought his advice. He desperately needed counsel, but was embarrassed to tell anyone about his quandaries. Knowing “the mute youth” wouldn’t repeat the conversation to anyone, he opened up to him.

The young Reb Pinchas spoke with him for a long time, providing strength and guidance.

Slowly, word of his expertise in Torah, philosophy, and faith spread, and he began to be regarded as a guide and teacher.7

One of his students (who was also a rav) struggled with the notion that G‑d could read his thoughts, and the doubts bothered him immensely. He traveled to Rebbe Pinchas for counsel.

From the window, Rebbe Pinchas saw his student approaching, and just by looking at his face he perceived all the questions that were bothering him. As soon as the man came in and shook his hand, Rebbe Pinchas told him, “If I know, how can it be that G‑d doesn't know?”

Satisfied with this answer, the student turned around and headed home.8


Before his passing, the Baal Shem Tov told his students that after his demise they should follow either the Maggid of Mezritch or Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz.

Reb Pinchas was 35 years old when the Baal Shem Tov passed on, and shortly afterwards he opened his own chassidic court.

Rebbe Shmuel Kaminka (a student of the Baal Shem Tov) felt that Reb Pinchas was too young to lead, and traveled to Koritz to see for himself whether, in his opinion, Rebbe Pinchas was eligible to be a Rebbe.

Although he was impressed by Rebbe Pinchas’s holy ways, he still felt that he was too young. The chassidim knew about Rebbe Shmuel’s conclusion, and it upset them.

But after staying in Koritz for Shabbat, and hearing Rebbe Pinchas's prayers, he changed his mind. He told the chassidim, “When Rebbe Pinchas said the words ‘Everyone should praise You,’ I saw the entirety of creation praising G‑d together with him. If he can cause the entire world to praise G‑d, he is fitting to lead the Jewish people.”9

Shabbat With Rabbi Pinchas

Shabbat is a day of emunah, because it is the day we recall that G‑d created the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that Rebbe Pinchas was exceedingly attached to Shabbat.

The two holy brothers Rebbe Shmelka of Nikolsburg and Rebbe Pinchas of Frankfurt came to see Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz, because they had heard that with Rebbe Pinchas one can feel the true joy and holiness of Shabbat. When they arrived, Rebbe Pinchas was in the kitchen cooking fish for the holy day. Before they even had a chance to tell him why they were there, he quoted the verse in Isaiah: “So says G‑d to the barren ones who observe My Shabbat …”10 implying that even if they were spiritually barren they would soon begin to experience the sweetness of Shabbat.11

These men were great tzaddikim in their own right, and had certainly experienced the holiness of Shabbat before. But apparently, in comparison to Shabbat with Rebbe Pinchas, it was as though they were barren.

Aborted Trip to the Holy Land

Toward the end of his life, Rebbe Pinchas wanted to travel to the Holy Land, saying that if a Jew doesn't yearn to be in Eretz Yisrael, that's a sign that he's depressed.12

“I want to be in Eretz Yisrael, even if only to be at Rachel's Tomb,”13 he said, planning to spend his days at the Kotel and his nights at Rachel’s Tomb, “because it is good to be under the mother's apron.”14

When he set out, however, he developed severe stomach pains, and his life was in danger.

“If You don't want me to go, I won't!” he cried out, and was immediately healed.

He returned home, but he wanted to understand why G‑d wanted him to stay put.

Eventually, it became clear.

With Divine inspiration, he saw a sword floating above the world. He fainted, realizing that this was a sign of the terrible massacres that would soon befall the Jewish nation at the hands of the Haidemaks, roving bands of armed peasants.15

He understood that Heaven didn't permit him to travel to Eretz Yisrael, so that he could protect the Jewish community.

The Heidemaks attacked Jewish villages indiscriminately, giving the Jews the option to convert, or at least to bow down to the cross. If they refused, they would kill them.

To protect themselves, many Jews ran to the larger Ukrainian cities or to Poland, leaving all their possessions behind for the wild mobs.

Rebbe Pinchas, however, believed that if they stayed in their villages they would be saved, and encouraged them to remain. Most rabbis disagreed with him, and many Jews fled to Poland and to the large cities of Ukraine, where they ultimately met their deaths.

Nevertheless, Rebbe Pinchas said that if it weren't for him, not one Jew would have survived from Poland to Lemberg.

We don't know exactly how he saved masses of Jews, but we do know the following:

He sent messengers to all the Jewish communities telling them to study Chumash with Rashi very well, promising that it would strengthen their emunah and provide protection.16

The Haidemaks were waging a religious war against the Jews, and Rebbe Pinchas understood that the war could be won in the spiritual realms. If their belief was ironclad, they would be protected.


The Baal Shem Tov’s holy son, Reb Tzvi, went through a period where he lost all his inspiration. He sought the counsel of many tzaddikim, and followed the advice of each, but it didn’t help.

“My father had a young student with long, black peyos called Rebbe Pinchas,” he told himself. “He always gets to the bottom of things. He will know what I have to do to regain my religious vigor.”

Rebbe Pinchas was overjoyed to see Reb Tzvi. “I was just thinking about your father, the Baal Shem Tov,” he said, “and wondering whether it is possible that he was a human being. He was so holy, just like an angel. And now I see you, his child, and I remember that he was indeed human!”

Reb Tzvi told him his problem. Rebbe Pinchas intuited that the root cause was Reb Tzvi’s financial worries. If his debts would be settled, his financial worries would subside and his spiritual equanimity would return.

Rebbe Pinchas borrowed Reb Tzvi's fine carriage and traveled to a few nearby cities collecting money for Reb Tzvi. Once his debts were paid up, he was able to once more feeling inspired and passionate about his Torah observance.17

Love for Others

Rebbe Pinchas would encourage the down-trodden of society and give them hope.

Once a shoemaker returned his shoes after repairing them, and Reb Pinchas thanked him enthusiastically but noticed that the shoemaker still looked morose, clearly embarrassed by his low-paying profession.

“Don’t feel bad,” Rebbe Pinchas reassured him. “Some great sages were shoemakers, like Reb Yochanan HaSandler. Chanoch, too, was a shoemaker, and with every stitch, he praised G‑d.”18

Upon hearing a speaker rebuking the community for their sins, Rebbe Pinchas interrupted: “Discussing their faults might cause them to be punished,” he warned. “If you have such a sharp tongue, why not use it to shout out to G‑d and to say, ‘You have wonderful children. Why don't you bring the geulah (Final Redemption)?’ ”19

“In every Jew there’s ... holiness and a uniqueness that no one else in the world has,”20 Rebbe Pinchas wrote. “Remembering this enables us to love one another.”


Rebbe Pinchas once sent a chassid to purchase a mezuzah from the expert, G‑d-fearing sofer, Reb Dovid.

The chassid asked Reb Dovid for two mezuzahs. He figured that if Reb Dovid's mezuzahs were special to Rebbe Pinchas, he also wanted one.

Reb Dovid gave him two mezuzahs and specified which one was for Rebbe Pinchas and which one he could have. “Don't mix them up,” he warned.

This upset the chassid. “I paid good money for the mezuzah,” he said to himself. “Why should I get the subpar one?” He decided to switch the mezuzahs and keep the one designated for Rebbe Pinchas for himself.

When he delivered the mezuzah, Rebbe Pinchas said, “Tell me the truth. This isn't the mezuzah he sent me, is it?”

The man admitted to the switch and asked how the Rebbe had known.

Rebbe Pinchas explained: “Reb Dovid knows that I can't tolerate even the smallest hint of sadness. He wrote your mezuzah on a wintry day, when he was slightly sad. And he wrote my mezuzah on a sunny day, when the skies were clear, and he was in good spirits. Therefore, that mezuzah is more fitting for me.”21

With the Alter Rebbe

At times the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, would visit Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz. Both giants in Torah study, they always shared deep Talmudic discussions.22

The Alter Rebbe once said that he acquired the attributes of humility and truth from Rebbe Pinchas.23


Rebbe Pinchas said that he acquired all his good traits easily, with the exception of truth.

Truth doesn't refer solely to speaking the truth. Living truthfully means all one's actions should be genuine, and not to impress others or for any personal gain.

All in all, Reb Pinchas said it took him 21 years to perfect the attribute of truth. For seven years he toiled to understand what it means to be truthful, the next seven years he cleansed himself from all falsehoods, and in the final seven years he acquired truth.24

So attuned was he, that he would experience physical pain when exposed to something that wasn’t entirely truthful.

A chassid who had been unable to have children requested from Rebbe Pinchas's chassidim that the next time Reb Pinchas was travelling, they should make a short detour to his home, so he and his wife could ask the Rebbe for his blessing.

The next time Rebbe Pinchas traveled, the chassidim paid the wagon driver some extra money to detour to this man's village, but they didn't tell Rebbe Pinchas about it.

Rebbe Pinchas didn't know the route, he didn't realize that they’d made a detour, but his head began to hurt. He shouted, "My head! My head!" wondering what had brought it on.

The chassidim had to tell him the truth, because even when others acted untruthfully around him, he was acutely affected by it.25

Rebbe Pinchas promised his children that by being truthful they would have success in all their undertakings, both physical and spiritual, and all their desires would be realized.26