Father: R' Avraham Abba.
Mother: Sarah Rachel Sheindel.
Sons: R' Eliyahu, R' Yehuda Meir [Head of Spitovka Beit Din], R' Yaakov Shimon [Head of Zaslov Beit Din], R' Yechezkel from Ostrow and R' Moshe [Head of Slavita Beit Din].
Daughter: Sarah Rachel Sheindel (married to R' Shmuel, Head of Klinblatt Beit Din).
Grandfather: R' Pinchas from Sklov (paternal).
Teacher: R' Yisrael [the Besht].
Students: R' Aryeh Leib [the grandfather from Shapoli], R' Benyamin Zeev from Balta, R' Zeev from Zhitomir, R' Yudel from Dashiv, R' Yaakov Shimshon from Spitivka, R' Raphael Brester from Barshid.
He was born in 5486 in the city of Sklov (Lithuania) and named 'Pinchas' after his grandfather who served as the "Maggid Mesharim" in Sklov and signed his name "Shapiro" since he was a scion of a family from the city Spiers (Germany), where many of its Jewish residents were massacred during the Crusades during the Middle Ages.
His family belonged to the strong anti-Chassidim who persecuted the Chassidim and from birth studied Bible, Talmud and Halachic authorities. He wrote many innovative and involved insights, studied grammar and medieval philosophy and would read the letters of Nachmanides daily.
Because of a false libel made against his family, they had to flee to Meropol in the Vohalin region (Ukraine), together with his father he joined the Chassidic movement and both became students of R' Yisrael [the Besht].
He married the daughter of R' Yonah Weil from Salvita (Ukraine), and worked as a teacher and became known as "the black teacher". He lived in the city of Kuritz (Ukraine) but because of a dispute with R' Shlomo from Slutzk (author of "Dovrat Shlomo") he moved to Ostrow (Ukraine).
He became famous as a miracle worker and thousands came to him. For every problem brought before him he would seek an answer in the Talmud, relied on our Sages customs and directed people to fast once a month since fasting can break bad qualities with which man is created. He prayed intensely and without any movement and did not agree that the congregation wait until he finished his Amidah before its repetition by the cantor. On the 3rd of Kislev he would hold a celebration and not say penitential prayers because of the fall of the Bishop and Queen who had wanted to burn the Talmud. He inherited the book "Sefer Chasidim" of R' Yehuda Hechassid from the Besht and it never left his table. For 13 years he strove to overcome falsehood, for 7 years toiled for the truth, another 7 years toiled to know what truth is and another 7 years in order to enter the truth into his heart. He was famous for his modesty, loved every Jew and when his wife would comment that he loved everyone and doesn’t show his sons any preference, he answered that he had worked by the sweat of his brow to reach that level. He instructed his Chassidim to toil exhaustively to break bad qualities, the first of which was falsehood, to stay away from pride and vanity, because from them stem black bitterness and sadness, they should pray at sunrise before the world fills with nonsense and vanity, and before the mouth speaks nonsense, to be diligent in regularly studying the Rambam's Laws of Knowledge and the book "Duties of the Heart". He also instructed small children to distance themselves from falsehood and warned his sons to pray every hour 'Master of the Universe, lead me in the path of truth'.
He married his daughter to R' Shmuel [Head of the Klinblatt Beit Din] and his son (R' Moshe) served as the Head of the Beit Din in Slavita. And he laid the cornerstone for the founding of the "Slavita Press" which printed only Holy books.
A few years before he died he would fast and pray at length on the 10th of Elul. In 5551 he started a journey to Israel but when he reached the city of Spetivka became ill and on Friday passed away.
Among his writings:
• Givat Pinchas
• Midrash Pinchas (read)
• Nofet Tzufim (read)
Photograph courtesy of R' Chanoch Kay