Light shining behind two trees in forest

Readers' Comments

Readers' comments, questions, and contributions are welcome!

If you wish to contribute additional teachings and anecdotes, please provide the source and full publication information. Explicit permission must be received from copyright holders before quotations can appear on this site.

Comments will be moderated before they appear on the web site and may be edited.

Please provide a signature (your name or a pseudonym) and your email address (which will not be displayed). If your comment is not intended for publication, please indicate that the message is “private.”

Please address correspondence to: SSteeble AT


WOW WOW WOW!! Your site is absolutely amazing and I can only imagine all the work and all the hours that went into it. Thank you so much for allowing me to help you publicize this wonderful new resource for the English-speaking public. You have done a tremendous mitzva with this!

A Simple Jew | A Simple Jew | 4/24/2008 | 11:13 a.m. EST

I am truly fascinated by your web site. It is very professionally put together. It shows that you have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge on the subject, and yet there is that personal touch, the respect you have for Reb Raphael and Reb Pinchas comes through, in that you present the pages so beautifully.

S. Cohen | 5/4/2008 | 7:37 p.m. EST

Yasher koach on all that work. I hope you have much hatzlacha in teaching about these tzadikim through this site and thereby are mezakeh people to become closer to Hashem!

Dixie Yid | Dixie Yid | 5/9/2008 | 10:09 a.m. EST

Ya'asher koach on the beautiful site! Hashem should help us fulfill what Rav Pinchas of Koritz would always say, “Petition Hashem every instant: ‘Lead me on the path of truth.’”

Rabbi Micha Golshevsky | A Fire Burns in Breslov | 5/9/2008 | 10:51 a.m. EST

Mazel tov on your website! What terrific news. I look forward to perusing it.

Rabbi Amy Scheinerman | | 5/9/2008 | 3:13 p.m. EST

Hatzlachah rabbah! Sounds like a wonderful project. Just one thing: why didn't you say “Two Tzaddikim”? “Tzaddiks” sounds odd to me.

Rabbi Dovid Sears | Breslov Center for Spirituality and Inner Growth | 5/9/2008 | 3:37 p.m. EST

Thanks for your good wishes! I considered calling the web site “Two Tzaddikim,” but I found that “tzaddiks” has become an acceptable word in the English language. Since my primary purpose was to make the teachings accessible to English-speaking readers who didn't necessarily know Hebrew, I decided to use the English plural. I hope it doesn't grate on the ears of those who speak Hebrew.

Susan Steeble | | 5/9/2008 | 3:44 p.m. EST

Wow—what a fantastic job! You are giving your ancestors such nachas in shamayim, and we here on earth a true blessing with your work. Thank you so much for your generosity and sharing.

Jonathan | 5/9/2008 | 6:37 p.m. EST

You really did a superb job. There is a lot of info here. When one says over the teaching of someone no longer alive, “their lips move in the grave” (Gemara Yevamos 96b). May the merits of these tzadikim be of benefit to you and your family.

A Talmid | Zchus Avos Yogen Aleinu | 5/12/2008 | 11:18 a.m. EST

I find the beautifully designed website very informative, well written, and comprehensive. It covers a lot of information on the two tzaddikim. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to getting back to other parts later.

Rabbi Zev Gopin | Chabad of Johns Hopkins and Central Baltimore | 5/15/2008 | 10:40 a.m. EST

Thank you for your wonderful and worthy work.

David Kaetz | Making Connections | 5/17/2008 | 1:02 a.m. EST

Great job! You should carry on. I think it serves to shed some more light on Rebbe R' Boruch from Tulchin, the grandson of Baal Shem Tov ha'K, as he probably was the closest Rebbe R' Pinchas came to establishing a “dynasty.”

Yosher Dovor | Yosher Dvar Emes | 5/18/2008 | 11:11 p.m. EST

I'm happy that you opened this site about Koretz and Bershad. Thanks for your work and enthusiasm! Hatzlocho!

Hillel | 5/19/2008 | 12:23 a.m. EST

Congratulations on your beautiful web site. My wife's great-grandfather came to America from Bershad in 1906, and I was wondering if you know of any resources for genealogical research regarding Bershad.

Yosef Chaim Salazar | 5/22/2008 | 1:13 p.m. EST

Thanks very much for your kind words about my web site. As for genealogical material on families from Bershad, I don't know of any source with specific information that is available online. (Also, according to the Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation web site, there was a fire in April 2003 in a warehouse building in Kamenets Podolskiy in the Ukraine, where governmental and community records from Bershad, and the rest of the former Podolia province, were housed. The records that were salvaged were moved to the state archives in Khmelnitsky. Most documents were badly damaged, and the restoration process will take years. I don't know the current status of the project.) However, if you're interested in finding immigration records, I can suggest searching online on JewishGen, Ellis Island database, and In addition, there is a book about Bershad written by Nachum Huberman (details are given in Part 5A of the web site; the book is #17 on my list). The book is in Hebrew, and I believe it is mainly historical, but it might mention the family name you're looking for. The book is in numerous libraries, and it's also available online from the NY Public Library.

Susan Steeble | | 5/22/2008 | 6:27 p.m. EST

Thank you so much for the web site. My heart has been drawn to Rabbi Pinhas and Rabbi Rafael since I read about them in Martin Buber zal's work about three years ago. I have grown to cherish their teachings so much and hold them as a primary foundation to how I want to live Judaism. I think the web site is so wonderful. Thank you for doing such an important service. Shalom!

Dani | 6/13/2008 | 5:56 a.m. EST

I've reviewed your site several times. It is a true masterpiece. I'm sure it will bring powerful blessings for good into your life.

Tzvi Meir Cohn | Baal Shem Tov Times | 6/24/2008 | 1:58 p.m. EST

You have a great web site!

Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams | Maqom | 8/10/2008 | 6:36 p.m. EST

I am most grateful for the opportunity to see the photographs and history of the village Bershad. My father was born in Bershad and was brought over to England by his parents in 1898 when he was a year old. I am now 74 years of age and I have always wondered what life must have been like for my grandparents before they emigrated to this country. Now your web site has brought the whole place to life. It was fascinating to see the old Synagogue where my grandparents would have been married. Thank you for all your work in producing your web site.

Harry Lederman | 8/27/2008 | 1:42 p.m. EST

Thanks for your kind remarks! It's good to hear from another “landsman” whose family came from Bershad. Perhaps our grandparents danced at the same weddings! My grandfather and his parents and siblings immigrated to the U.S. in the 1905-1907 era.

In Part 6 of the web site, under the headings Bershad Synagogue and Bershad, are links to other sites with photos of the Bershad synagogue, as well as homes in the former Jewish community of Bershad and scenes of modern Bershad.

Susan Steeble | | 8/29/2008 | 12:43 a.m. EST

It's a funny feeling to think that your ancestors and mine almost certainly knew each other in the old Shtetl. Up until I found your web site the other day, I thought I would never have any idea where my father and grandparents came from, and I now feel a close association with the place. I don't suppose you have any indication of how one could get access to any of the old records of the town, if such records existed? I have now been through the whole of your web site, which I found fascinating.

Harry Lederman | 8/29/2008 | 10:12 a.m. EST

I feel that same close tie to the places where my ancestors once walked. Even though the photos show modern buildings, our grandparents saw the same landscape, the same river, and the same synagogue, and our relatives are probably buried in the same cemetery.

I had some correspondence in May and June with another reader whose wife's ancestors were from Bershad. We could not find the Ukraine records, but we found the Ellis Island and Census documents that yielded the names of other family members and led to other potential sources of information. I am now posting the original exchange (above, dated May 22, 2008), as it also addresses your question about obtaining governmental records from Bershad. Good luck in your genealogical research!

Susan Steeble | | 8/29/2008 | 11:08 a.m. EST

I have been reading and re-reading passages from Two Tzaddiks. What a magnificent and rich work! The photos also are very eloquent.

I. Weisz | Letter 9/3/2008 (translated by S.K.S.)

I can't seem to comment on your web site, so I am emailing you my comment.

Your web site is something very special. Before your web site, the Torah of Reb Pinchas of Koretz was mostly locked behind seforim, yet to be translated into English. You are doing a great service to the English-speaking Yidden who are thirsty for Chassidus. I am linking to your web site on my blog because it needs to be spread. I hope there are plans to translate some of his seforim into English soon, or I should just learn more Hebrew. Shkoyach!

Long Beach Chasid | Long Beach Chasid | 9/15/2008 | 11:08 a.m. EST

Thanks very much for taking the time to write. I originally had a form for comments on the web site, but I removed it because it was flooded with spam. Email seems to work just as well, and I can add comments manually.

When I first tried to find out about the teachings of my ancestor, Rebbe Raphael, and his mentor, Rebbe Pinchas, I thought that their wisdom was easily accessible to those who could read Hebrew. But I am finding that even Chassidim who are fluent in Hebrew often appreciate reading the teachings and commentary in English and organized by topic, and of course, the publication of their body of thought in translation also makes their teachings accessible to a wider audience. I'm very glad to know that I've made a small contribution in spreading the words of their teachings. I don't know of any current efforts to translate the Torah of R' Pinchas, but I hope that someday someone will take on that challenging endeavor.

By the way, I often read your web site, too, especially when A Simple Jew links to your posts. I especially like the artwork in your masthead; it reminds me of the work of Leonard Baskin. It was interesting to hear of your recent experiences in Israel. Thanks very much for the link. I will add a link to your site, as well.

Susan Steeble | | 9/15/2008 | 11:35 a.m. EST

The artwork is my own. It's a woodblock print that I hope to build up an edition with. Thank you for the kind words.

Long Beach Chasid | Long Beach Chasid | 9/15/2008 | 12:12 p.m. EST

Even better, then! You have a wonderful talent, and it's beautiful that you use it to such a good purpose.

Susan Steeble | | 9/15/2008 | 12:22 p.m. EST

I briefly looked at some entries on Two Tzaddiks and came upon the one below, under On Women in Part 2:

R' Pinchas said: “G-d created Eve to serve as Adam's ezer kenegdo [helpmeet] … to help him—against him. What does that mean? Well, imagine you visit a rich man, asking for charity. He welcomes you warmly and says: ‘Oh, I wish I could, I so wish I could give you as much as you need, as much as you deserve, but you see, I cannot; my wife is against it.’”

Please permit me to clarify. The quote is from the Torah. It says, in Sefer Beraishis, the first of the five books of the Chumash, Chapter 2.18, that G-d created Chava (Eve) to be an ezer kenegdo (helpmate against) to Adam. As for the explanation given here for these words, I would need to see the original source [i.e., Reb Pinchas's commentary on this pasuk in the Chumash], to make out if Elie Wiesel has it right.

S. Cohen | 2/24/2009 | 3:35 p.m. EST

Unfortunately, Wiesel doesn't say specifically where this teaching is located. He is a storyteller, not an academic scholar.

Personally, I didn't read so much “opposition” into the expression. I thought it meant “counterpart” or “complement” (i.e., something that fits together, but in an opposite way, with something else, so that the two parts together make something complete). But now that you've brought up the subject, I've done a little googling, and I find that although ezer kenegdo is often translated “helpmeet,” it can be translated as “opposing helper,” and this seems to be the sense of the term that R' Pinchas was explaining. I am changing the definition in brackets accordingly.

Susan Steeble | | 2/24/2009 | 4:22 p.m. EST

I just found your website online. It is amazing and a real gift to Klal Yisroel. Yasher Koach. I am sure your relatives in shomoyim are having a lot of nachis. I am not yet done reading your brilliant and well researched work. However, I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that Reb Pinchos of Koritz has his Yahrzeit on Yud Elul. Unbelievably, I was planning a trip to his Kever for that very day! You see, my family on my mother's side (N___) is from Shepetovka/Polonya (disagreement amongst the uncles), and I became connected to Chassidus several years ago knowing nothing of where I actually come from. Recently a Tzadik in Yerushalayeem told me to start learning the Medrash Pinchas, because, in this Tzadik's ability to see things in the world, he told me that my family is from the family, or possibly from the families of the talmidim, of Reb Pinchos of Koritz. I have been trying to do research on my family and I am just getting started.

I have been to the Ukraine several times to many kivrei tzadikim and am planning a trip from August 23 to August 31 next month. This year, as you know, August 30th is Yud Elul. It is a Sunday. Are there people that I might be able to contact who could help me arrange my trip? Are there places to stay if I wanted to be by the Koritzer for Shabbes Ki Teizei right before? Perhaps I can also visit the grave of R' Raphael of Bershad in Tarashcha. I am eager to start learning more. I am thrilled to be able to benefit from the enormous amount of work you have put into this project. Thank you so much. I hope that we can be in touch. Kol Tuv. May Hashem bless you and your whole mishpacha in all of your pursuits. Zei Mazliach!

ZYA | 7/7/2009 | 2:34 p.m. EST

Your kind words about my web site have really warmed my heart! Thank you so much for your comments! As you can readily observe, the sections on history and teachings are mostly a compilation of the works of others, not my own original work; my intention was primarily to collect them in one place and make them accessible to an English-speaking readership. You're right: it was a lot of work, but it didn't feel like work at the time; it was truly a labor of love.

You mentioned that you have been studying the Midrash Pinchas. What I have learned from R' Pinchas (in translation) has been very meaningful and inspirational to me, too. The web site is still growing, so if you happen to glean any new teachings that are not yet presented on the web site, I would be happy to add them and to credit you as the contributor/translator. Also, if you take any digital photos at the kevarim of R' Pinchas or R' Raphael or in the towns of Shepetovka and Tarashcha (or Koretz, Ostrog, or Bershad), I would love to include them in the gallery of photos. [I invite translations, photos, and other contributions from other readers and travelers, as well.]

To answer your specific questions: the only English-speaker I know who might be able to advise you about traveling to Shepetovka (and possibly staying nearby during the Shabbos preceding Yud Elul) is Rabbi Tal Zwecker of Mosdos Cleveland in Ra'anana, Israel. His email address is Rabbi Zwecker and his group traveled to Shepetovka (among other places) in the past year, so he might be able to give you some practical information. (If you contact him, please send him my best regards.) Best wishes for a wonderful and inspirational trip, and safe travels!

You mention that your mother's family may be from the Shepetovka area. I wonder whether you have any Shapiros on your family tree. One of R' Pinchas's sons settled in Shepetovka (the family info is given in Part 1 of the web site), and, of course, the influence of R' Pinchas was widespread throughout the region. You say that you are just getting started on your family history research. I'd advise you to begin with interviewing the older members of your own family and extended family and acquiring as much info as possible on names; dates of birth, death, immigration, and marriages; children's names and ages, etc, and then investigating the records that are available online (e.g., In particular, immigration records and U.S. WWI and WWII draft registration records may give a particular town as the former residence. I've been doing genealogical research for years, so let me know if you want more help with this.

Thanks again for your kind remarks.

Susan Steeble | | 7/8/2009 | 10:51 a.m. EST

Rabbi Raphael's songs [in Part 2, On Song] are a kick! Who knew! And what a multi-dimensional website you now have. A real gem.

E.S. Adelsohn | 7/29/2009 | 3:27 p.m. EST

I happened to look up Pinchas of Koretz, hearing that today was his yartzeit. Wow, what a gift to discover his soul alive on the web!!

Please take a look at my book on Rebbe Nachman's teaching on the Tzaddik:

Avraham Chaim Apatow | MosesTorah | 8/30/2009 | 3:05 p.m. EST

Thanks very much! I love the thought that his soul is “alive on the web”! Like Rabbi E.E. Frankel, who has given me so much support and help with this web site, my goal is to illuminate the teachings of R' Pinchas and R' Raphael and keep them alive in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people.

I'm happy to give a link to your very interesting web site, which I've begun to read.

Susan Steeble | | 8/31/2009 | 7:32 p.m. EST

I love your website! I have always wanted to learn more about Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz and Rabbi Raphael of Bershad since I read about them in Martin Buber's Tales of the Hasidim, but I couldn't find any information about them in English.

Thank you for this scholarly and interesting website!

(I have not been able to figure out how to post a comment directly to the website, so I am sending it to your contact email address for review.)

Robin Margolis | 9/7/2009 | 1:43 p.m. EST

Thanks for writing! Buber's Tales of the Hasidim (see Part 5B for publication information) contains some wonderful anecdotes about the two tzaddiks, which endeared them to me, too. You're right that there is not much information about them in English, except in a few scholarly works and story collections that, for the most part, are not online.

By the way, since you and some other readers have mentioned the difficulty in finding out how to comment on the web site, I want to confirm that email is the best way to contact me. For greater visibility, I've added the email address at the bottom of the sidebar on the right. Originally, I designed the web site with a standard form for comments, but it received a lot of spam, so I decided to remove any direct link to my email address. I hope this doesn't inconvenience any readers or discourage anyone from writing to me. I love feedback!

Susan Steeble | | 9/8/2009 | 10:57 a.m. EST

As a descendant of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, I thoroughly enjoyed your Two Tzaddiks web site.

Jeffrey Mark Paull | 10/22/2009 | 1:53 p.m. EST

I looked at your web site and, wow, it is exceptional! Thank you for letting me know of it.

Mel Werbach (Ostrog Town Leader, JewishGen) | 9/22/2011 | 5:36 p.m. EST

On your website there is a Google translation box, and I clicked on the Hebrew and it gave me the translation of the first page … Actually, it was not only the first page that translated into Hebrew, because when I clicked on any of the links on the translation on the right, the link opened and gave the content in Hebrew. The more I read, I am full of awe of the outstanding research, compilation, and presentation you have done. … Words cannot start to capture the enormous accomplishment you have brought forward for the benefit of all of us.

Dr. Naomi Wagner | 7/31/2012 | 10:29 p.m. EST

Your website and your research are outstanding.

Marek Matyjasik | 1/9/2015 | 6:45 p.m. EST

Hello, I'm writing my doctoral dissertation on Rebbe Pinhas, Rebbe Rafael, and their school. The Monashtritser Rebbe suggested I go check out your site. I was not expecting to find anything new there but was thrilled to be proven wrong. Kol hakavod on your extensive research and thank you for sharing it.

Jeffrey Amshalem | 2/28/2021 | 12:16 p.m. EST

Thank you so much for your nice message — it is music to my ears! I am glad to know that it's helpful to serious students of R' Pinchas and R' Raphael, as I always hoped it would be. For those whose native tongue is English, I hope it works as an index to point readers to information that they can then locate in the Hebrew texts.

By the way, I'm sorry that I haven't checked to see that all the links in the text and bibliography are still working; I'm sure that some are not valid any more, and I would appreciate feedback from readers who encounter non-functional links. I also regret that I haven't had the time to update the web site very often.

Susan Steeble | | 2/28/2021 | 1:02 p.m. EST

© 2023 Susan K. Steeble | | All rights reserved

Tombstone of R Pinchas of Koretz   Tombstone of R Raphael of Bershad