#426 (s5766-16/ 18 Tevet 5766)

Only Pharaoh

Rabbi Simchah-Bunem of Pshischa spent some time in Germany, accompanied by his son.

Only Pharaoh

The chasidic rebbe, Rabbi Simchah-Bunim of Pshischa, had previously been a successful businessman. He spent some time in Germany, accompanied by his son, Rabbi Avraham-Moshe. At his Shabbat meals he would be visited by some of the local Jews, and he would deliver to them Torah insights, just as he was accustomed to doing at home.

They, however, far from being impressed by the intensity of his Chasidic style of delivery and the brilliance and mystical bent of his ideas, found his short talks amusing. They would snicker among themselves and make fun of his discourses.

This greatly upset the rebbe's son. He complained to his father indignantly: "Why do you bother saying Torah for these apikorsim, these scorners of G-d's truth?"

"What can I do, my son?" his father responded. "I get so aroused when taken by the impulse to say words of Torah that I don't even know where I am, never mind whom I am talking to.

"But I tell you what. Next Shabbat, when you see that I desire to begin speaking, signal me in some way, and then I will remember that I should not say my Torah then."

So what happened? The following Shabbat, when Rabbi-Moshe saw that his father was about to launch into a learned discourse, he reminded him of their agreement that it was not a good idea to do so among these 'Deitchen,' these German liberal Jews.

Rabbi Simcha-Bunim paused, then turned to his son and remarked: "It is not really correct to label these German Jews as apikorsim, my son. Why, whenever one of them has as a bad headache his first reaction is to cry out Shema Yisrael! The only genuine apikores is Pharaoh, who even though the Al-mighty struck him with ten mighty plagues, continued to say dismissively: 'Who is the
L-rd that I should listen to his voice?'(Ex. 4:2)."

He then proceeded to share his thoughts with his fellow Jews.


[Translated and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Sipurei Chasidim--Festivals for www.ascentofsafed.com and www.KabbalaOnline.org]

Biographical Note:
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765 - 12 Elul 1827) spent many years as a business man and a pharmacist. He was a beloved disciple of "the Seer" and of "The Holy Yid" whom he succeeded. Known as "a rebbe of rebbes," his major disciples included the Kotsker Rebbe and the first Rebbes of Ger and Alexander.


Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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