Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something! - a story

Today, the 2nd of Shevat, is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Zusia of Anapol.

It was the custom of Rebbe Zusia of Anapol, to recite his morning prayers at length. After he concluded, he would retire to his room next to the shul. Once there, he would open the window and, lifting his eyes to the heavens, call out, "Ribbono shel Olam, Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!"

Every morning, his attendant would wait until he heard Reb Zusia's appeal, then he would bring in Reb Zusia's morning meal of cake with a little schnapps. One morning the attendant thought to himself, "Why doesn't Reb Zusia ask me directly for his meal. In fact, who does he think he is fooling by calling out to G-d like that? He knows full well that I bring him his food everyday." So on the spot he decided that the next morning he would not bring Reb Zusia's meal when he called out. He would just wait to see what would happen and where Reb Zusia's would look for his meal.

The next morning, Reb Zusia awoke as usual, well before the light of day. As he did every morning, he first went to the town mikveh to immerse himself in preparation for the day's holy work. The night had been a rainy one in Anapol, and the streets of the town had already turned to rivers of mud. In order to get from one side of the street to another, one had to cross on narrow planks that were laid across the flowing mud. As Reb Zusia was crossing in the direction of the mikveh, a man whom he didn't recognize, a guest in town, was coming towards Reb Zusia from the other side. When he saw Reb Zusia, gaunt, almost emaciated, dressed in rags without a tooth in his mouth, the stranger yelled out, "Tramp!" and with a hearty laugh jumped up and down on the plank causing Reb Zusia to tumble into the mud. Reb Zusia didn't say a word. He calmly picked himself out of the mud and continued on his way to the mikveh, while the stranger sauntered off into the distance, chuckling merrily the whole way as he re-enacted his clever maneuver over and over in his mind. When he arrived back at the inn where he was staying, he couldn't help but brag to the innkeeper about his amusing prank. The innkeeper didn't laugh so quickly. He asked the guest to describe the tramp whom he had catapulted into the mud. Upon hearing, he clapped his hands to his head and cried out in anguish, "Oy! Oy vavoy! Do you know what you did? That was not just some itinerant, that was the Rebbe Reb Zusia!"

Now it was the turn of the guest to cry out "Oy vavoy," for Reb Zusia was known to all as a holy tzaddik. Trembling, the guest struck his breast, "Oy vey, Oy Vey! What am I going to do now? What am I going to do!"

"Don't worry," exclaimed the innkeeper, regaining his composure. "Listen to me. I know what you should do. Reb Zusia spends many hours every morning in prayer. When he is finished he goes into his private room next to the shul. There he opens the window, and anybody can see how he thrusts his head out, and calls toward the heavens, 'Ribbono shel Olam, Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!' So, I'll prepare some cakes and some schnapps for you to take to him. When you hear him call out to the Creator, you go in immediately with this gift, and offer it to him and beg his forgiveness. I'm certain that he will forgive you whole-heartedly."

That morning, like every morning, after the prayers, Reb Zusia went into his room, opened the window and called out, "Ribbono shel Olam, Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!" The attendant, upon hearing Reb Zusia, held his ground and clasped his folded arms together even tighter, waiting to see what the outcome would be. "Let Ribbono shel Olam bring him his cake this morning", he huffed to himself. Suddenly the door to the shul opened and a man, holding a large plate of cakes and a bottle of schnapps came in and made his way to the room of Reb Zusia. He went straight in, put the cakes on the table, and then fell to the floor in grief, begging the tzaddik for his forgiveness (which he was certainly granted). Let it be known, that the attendant came to understand that it really was the Master of the World who brought Reb Zusia his breakfast every morning.


At January 31, 2006 at 5:36:00 PM EST, Blogger A Frum Idealist said...

are you familiar with the story of reb zusia and the soup that the tailor's (?) wife made? Also, an amazing story.

At January 31, 2006 at 7:17:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Frum Idealist: I am not sure if I am familiar with that one...

At May 5, 2006 at 12:16:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nu? So let's hear the story about the tailor...? The one about the cakes and schnapps I heard already thank you.

At May 5, 2006 at 11:20:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Frum Idealist said...

I heard this story a long time ago, so please forgive me if I mess up or if I’m unclear on some of the details.
Apparently Reb Zusia was practically on his deathbed and it was very difficult for him to eat. His son Reb Laizer (I think) approached him and asked if there was anything he could do, if there was anything that his father needed, anything that he could get for his father, anything he wanted to eat. Reb Zusia looked at his son and said, I once tasted the most amazing soup. The tailor’s wife made it for me. Go see if you can get the recipe.
Reb Laizer set out and went to the tailor’s house. The tailor was thrilled to see him and when Reb Laizer told him why he was there, he ran to get his wife. When the wife heard why Reb Laizer was there, she began to cry.
She explained as follows:
A few years ago, Reb Zusia was coming through town and my husband saw the rebbe coming and invited him into the house. The rebbe actually came to our house. Can you imagine? It’s not like my husband, who is a wonderful, but simple man had much if anything to say to the rebbe, but the fact that the rebbe was in our house, was such an amazing honor. Then my husband turns to me and asks me to bring some soup or some food for the rebbe. Very nice of him, but he knows that he have nothing in the cupboard. What should I make for the rebbe?
So I put up a pot and I put in some water, and I cried to Hashem, what could I do? We had nothing. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I cried for Hashem to help us. Then when the water boiled I brought the soup to the rebbe, and when he ate the soup he said it was the most delicious soup he had ever tasted in his life, but there was nothing in the soup other than water………

Nothing but water….. and her tears……
That’s what the rebbe needed, tefillos with tears.


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