Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Elul 5772 - September 6, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











The Rebbe Reb Bunim of Pershischa, ztvk"l

Pershischa. Not a chassidus, but a brand name. The small town of Pershischa was a factory of sorts where sincere Yidden with raw but lofty ideals developed into holy individuals. Men of madreigoh who wished to forget completely their earthly needs and surroundings, to rise and fly above all that is mundane and remain in an atmosphere that is spiritual only — those were the men who came to Pershischa.

The principle of the Rebbe Reb Bunim was that no person should imagine that he has truly attained the heights he has aspired to. Never should he be satisfied that he has reached the summit, for in Yiddishkeit there is always more to climb.

Towards the end of his life, Reb Bunim remarked wistfully, "When I was young I thought I could rectify the whole world. Later I grew up and my desire was at least to rectify the town of Pershischa. Now, in my old age, I can only hope that perhaps I will manage to rectify myself."

"Never look back at what you have achieved," he would exhort his Chassidim, "but constantly look ahead to what still has to be accomplished."

Thus on an erev Yom Kippur he called to one of his Chassidim, who had lately fallen somewhat from his madreigoh, "Come my friend. I am not who I should be and neither are you what you should be. Let's do teshuva together," bringing his chossid to a complete repentance.

For a time, the Rebbe Reb Bunim lived in Germany. There he worked arduously to return Jews who had been sucked in by the whirlpool of emancipation back to their roots. He would unravel before them the list of zechuyos they would have if only they would turn over a new leaf, explaining in detail how, with the reacceptance of Torah and mitzvos, each sin would be transformed into a merit to be rewarded. His effort bore fruit and many Jews returned to the fold.

Once, the Rebbe heard of a Jew who had stooped so low that he had not the remotest intention to return and even refused to be seen by Reb Bunim. Whenever he heard that the Rebbe was looking for him, he would run into hiding.

Upon sending his Chassidim to find out his whereabouts, the Rebbe was told that the Jew was in a debased club where all the city's louts would hang out, knowing full well that the Rebbe would never set foot into such a place to find him.

Having been directed to the hangout, the Rebbe Reb Bunim stood outside and began to sing softly. As his voice grew louder, the holy melody he sang became stronger and hauntingly stirring. On and on the Rebbe sang his song of kedushoh and yearning to Hashem until its power drew the fallen Yid out of the building. Grabbing hold of the Rebbe's coat he escaped from his evil past, never to return.


A group of students once decided to hold a debate with the Rebbe, to prove to him once and for all that his beliefs were all wrong and to stop him from furthering his kiruv role.

As soon as they entered Reb Bunim's room, the latter announced loud and clear, "In the olden days there were apikorsim like Pharaoh, who stuck to his convictions and, even after being smitten with ten plagues, still asked, `Who is Hashem?' Nowadays, however, they just have to hear a crack of thunder and already they are shaken to the core, instilled with a belief in Hashem and shout Shema Yisroel."

As the Rebbe's thunderous voice held forth, the men in the room were gripped by fear and, as soon as he finished speaking, they cried out in unison, "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echod!"

Once the Rebbe was told of a certain priest whose humility was to such a degree that it must surely be causing the accusatory angel in Heaven to point a finger at the man, saying that in all of Klal Yisroel there is no one as humble as this gentile priest.

Rabbeinu shook his head in disagreement. "True humility is rooted in holiness and this priest is an impure goy. There must be some flaw." So saying, he sent a talmid of his to stay a while with the priest and to inspect the sincerity of his self-effacement.

As soon as the talmid arrived, the man of the cloth in his long robes bent his full height to bow to him. He then proceeded to clean his shoes and served him as a lowly slave does his master. The talmid waited a day, and another, and another, waiting to discover the fault line in the priest's behavior. However throughout the duration of his stay, the host would not let up with acting as a lowly servant honoring the Yid, until the latter decided to return to his Rebbe and to report that the humbleness of the priest was indeed to be admired.

Dejectedly he left the house of the priest to return to Pershischa, when he heard the window being opened behind him.

Sticking his head out, the priest chortled with laughter, "Ha, so what are you going to tell your Rebbe about my humble ways?"


In his youth, Reb Bunim once traveled with a friend to the Maggid of Koznitz for a Shabbos. Throughout the Shabbos the Maggid gave all his attention to Reb Bunim's friend, almost ignoring Reb Bunim completely.

Motzei Shabbos came and the two friends went to say farewell to the Maggid, whereupon the latter insisted on accompanying them part of the way. When he turned back, Reb Bunim asked his friend, "Who do you think the Maggid intended to accompany, you or me?"

"Probably me," said the friend. "Because it was I whom he spoke with the whole Shabbos."

Hearing this, Reb Bunim argued that the Maggid had meant R' Bunim and thus they should return to Koznitz to verify this.

Since his friend had no desire to travel back, he shrugged, "OK, so he meant you. Now let's continue on our way."

However, Reb Bunim decided that the matter needed clarifying and persuaded his friend to retrace his steps together with him and go back to Koznitz.

Indeed, the Maggid confirmed that he had accompanied the pair in honor of Reb Bunim.

When the Rebbe related the above story, his listeners were perplexed. It seemed so out of character for the Rebbe to be running after his own honor. "I'll explain the whole story, its meaning and its lesson," said Reb Bunim with a smile.

"The reason why the Maggid chose to ignore me was to test my trait of humility. How would my pride react to such deferment. On motzei Shabbos, the holy Maggid went out of his way to accompany me to see if I would become haughty.

"However, I noticed that, through the Maggid's behavior, my friend was getting proud, his ga'avoh rising as the time went by and more harm than good would be caused. I therefore made him return with me to Koznitz to ascertain that it was not him that the Maggid meant."

Before he was niftar, the Rebbe Reb Bunim said "When Moshiach comes, it'll be a real joke: people will laugh at the fact that to the giants of yesteryear Moshiach didn't come and to our lowly generation Moshiach Tzidkeinu has arrived."

After his passing, the tzadikim in the next dor would add:

"And from the days of the Rebbe Reb Bunim, to our days - - the joke is getting bigger and bigger!"


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.