The Choizer Who Rolled on the Floor with the Alter Rebbe

Reb Pinchas “Reizes,” so named after his mother-in-law who supported his becoming the Alter Rebbe’s chossid, was a wealthy chossid and devoted choizer. When the Alter Rebbe would sometimes fall to the floor in dveikus, he would drop near him to catch every word.

Reb Pinchas Reizes, one of the greatest chasidim of the Alter Rebbe, was an incredible gaon.  The Rebbeim trusted him fully, often involving him in private and clandestine activities involving themselves or chasidim at large.  Reb Pinchas was also a wealthy and influential resident of Shklov and did a great deal for the Alter Rebbe in that respect.  

While in the Rebbe’s court, Reb Pinchas served as a chozer, renowned for the precision of his hanachos (transcriptions).  The Mitteler Rebbe called Reb Pinchas the “field marshal” of chasidei Chabad.


Though Reb Pinchas’s father was a great gaon in Shklov, his last name, Reizes, was taken after his mother-in-law Reizah. This came about after the following story:

His mother-in-law, an especially wealthy woman, was greatly impressed by the Alter Rebbe after his visit to Shklov. “Look,” she said, “A maggid hailing from Vitebsk shows up riding a horse with no entourage, and yet, when he discussed Torah issues with the geonim of Shklov, he could respond to everything they asked, while they couldn’t answer three of his four questions.”

She had three sons-in-law and promised that whoever would spend time learning by the “Magid of Liozna” would inherit all her wealth, and Reb Pinchas agreed. When he arrived in Liozna, he discovered that the Alter Rebbe was traveling through various towns to speak before the simpletons. He waited four months for the Alter Rebbe to return and then spent three months learning under the Rebbe. He brought his mother-in-law a letter affirming that he had learned by the Rebbe and true to her word, she gave him all her wealth.

Reb Pinchas took the money and gave it to the Alter Rebbe for public matters. The Alter Rebbe blessed him with Torah and riches.


Although there were a few chassidim who recorded the words of the Alter Rebbe, it was said that the hanochos of R. Pinchas Reizes were the most precise and reliable. The Rebbeim would rely on his hanochos. He made sure not to miss a single word of the Alter Rebbe. The Tzemach Tzedek referred to him as a “lined cistern that doesn’t lose a drop” (bor sud she’eino me’abed tipa).

The Rebbe quoted the Frierdiker Rebbe on the extent of his precision: Sometimes, in the middle of saying a maamar, the Alter Rebbe would enter a state of extreme dveikus, and begin to roll on the floor. R. Pinchas would get down on the floor and roll after him, so as not to miss a word of the maamar!


The Alter Rebbe once complained to Reb Pinchas, “Pinchas, Pinchas! You say that I am a tzaddik, but if so, why do I feel so ‘cold’?”


R. Zalman Velkes of Dubravna was an exceptional baal tzedakah. He designated three boxes of coins: gold, silver and copper. When a person would request tzedakah, he take a bulging handful of whichever coins he thought they deserved.

R. Pinchas Reizes, who was himself a great baal tzedakah, visited R. Zalman to learn from his ways. He later told the Alter Rebbe that he copied R. Zalman’s practice, but with one difference: R. Zalman would give the entire handful without looking, while R. Pinchas gave his handful, but would open it up to see how much is inside…


Reb Pinchas traveled to the Alter Rebbe for four months during the year: Elul, Tishrei, Nissan and Sivan. Once, Reb Pinchas fell ill and was unable to make the journey for Tishrei. Later on during the month, he felt better, but because the winter had already set in, he remained in Shklov. While sitting in his sukkah on Shmini Atzeres, he suddenly cried out, “Oy Rebbe!” and said to those sitting with him that the Rebbe had just thought of him.

At this same time, the Alter Rebbe was sitting at his seudah in his sukkah, and he said: “Pinchas Reizes needs his body to be cured. That which I cannot give him, I cannot give, but a bodily refua I can give him.”

The chassidishe young men from Shklov were very surprised to hear the Rebbe suddenly mention Reb Pinchas in middle of the Shmini Atzeres meal. After Yom Tov, upon their return home, they immediately went to the home of Reb Pinchas and asked him for mashke, which he supplied. As they were speaking, they discovered that at the same time the Alter Rebbe had mentioned him, Reb Pinchas had screamed, “Oy Rebbe!”

Chasidim have always been averse to an outwardly showing of greatness by displaying ruach hakodesh and the like, and reprimanded him for such behavior. Reb Pinchas declared, “It was not me. The first time I went for yechidus, I gave the Rebbe my nefesh. The second time, I gave him my ruach, and the third time, I gave over my neshama. Being that my entire neshama had been given over to the Rebbe, it was not my powers that did this.”

The Rebbe explained that some aspect of this is relevant today through total dedication of the neshama to the Rebbe. However, this level was reached only after the intense learning and toiling in avoda as Reb Pinchas would do.

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