The maggid Reb Pinchas of Koritz despised falsehood and haughtiness and loved honesty. He would usually say, “I arise very early in the morning to pray before the sun fills the world with its rays and people arise to begin the day with deceit and falsehood.”
Once during a cold wintry morning he heard a group of congregants discussing the devious ways of the Satan, and how he uses every trick to entice the poor innocent person to sin. Noticing the maggid, they gathered around him and asked him his opinion about the Satan.
“I do not dislike the Satan because he entices people to sin, but only because he is dishonest and he does his nefarious work undercover,” he replied. “He never approaches a person and tells him, ‘Commit the following sin!’ Instead he tells the person to observe mitzvos, such as hachnassas orchim. Just when you are willing to invite a person, he is sure to say, ‘Don’t invite this person; he is not shomer Shabbos. It is a mitzvah to throw him out of this town.’ Or he points to a poor merchant and whispers to you, ‘Look at that hypocrite; he does not have a kosher home. He eats treif, it is a mitzvah to complain about him to the government.’
“Suddenly, it appears that the Satan has become pious. No person is too good, and he causes you to gossip, which in itself is a terrible sin. Only yesterday I had an encounter with the Satan,” continued the maggid. “As is my custom I arose very early and I always enjoy bathing in the mikvah before I start the day. Suddenly I noticed the Satan standing in front of me, ‘It is very cold outside,’ he said to me in a very solicitous tone. ‘Better stay in bed until the sun is out and warms up the countryside. You can’t bathe anyway, because the water is frozen solid and you would have a sin endangering your life.’
“‘If it is so cold outside, why were you outside all night?’ I asked him. ‘Why weren’t you in my room?’ I immediately arose and dressed and I walked outside towards the mikvah. It was frozen solid, and so I broke the ice and jumped into the water. Lo and behold, there, standing in front of me, was the Satan, with a happy smile on his face. ‘Congratulations,’ he said. ‘You are indeed a holy person, a saint, there is none like you anywhere.’
“‘Get away from me, Satan,’ I shouted. ‘Now you are attempting to make me feel haughty, another one of your underhanded ways of making me sin.’”