"When Rabbi Simha Bunim of Pshis'cha was a young man, he made a living for a period of time in the lumber business. Every year, he traveled to Danzig Fair, where many merchants gathered, some selling and some buying trees and lumber.

"On one of these trips, when he was by the river in Danzig, a terrible thing happened. A certain Jew slipped and fell into the swift current of the surging river. Another moment and he would drown. Everyone panicked, and they were all crying out in terror, 'Save him, save him!' And they were all astonished to hear Rabbi Bunim cry out to the drowning man, 'Give my regards to Leviathan' — the legendary giant fish!

"The drowning man, who had lost hope of fighting the current, heard him and suddenly began to struggle again to save himself. Why? Because the rabbi's levity snatched him out of his despair and aroused his will to live. He finally found a floating plank that had been cast out from a passing ship and held on to it until he was able to get back safely to shore.

"There was a big crowd on the shore, but the man went straight to Rabbi Bunim and fell on his neck, saying, 'You saved my life! If it wasn't for your clever words, I would have died because of my despair and the confusion I was in because of everyone's screams. But your joke aroused my will to live; because of you, I'm alive.'

"In later years, when Simha Bunim became a rebbe, he used to tell this story and conclude, 'See the power of joy!' "