#178 (s5761-25/19 Adar 5761)


"Really, I'm not a tzaddik at all," Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli insisted.


"I will be gracious to whomever I will be gracious." (Ex. 33:19)
Even to the undeserving (Talmud Tractate Berachot)



I can't believe what has happened to me. Just a year ago I was so much more prosperous than I am now, and my affairs still seem to be getting worse and worse. It is strange, because according to all logic, I should be wealthier by now than ever before.

You see, near to my town lives a tzadik-the righteous Rebbe Reb Zusha of Anipoli. Often I went to see him, and whenever I did I would give a generous donation, as befits someone of my wealth. He would always bless me for all good things, and to tell the truth, I always felt that my success in business was due in great part to his merit.

Then, one time I went to Anipoli to visit him and he wasn't home. I asked his wife, the Rebbetzin, where he was. She said, "He went to see the Rebbe."

Her answer confused me. "But he is the Rebbe," I stammered.

"Yes," she smiled, "he is your Rebbe, but he went to see his Rebbe."

"What?" I exclaimed. "How can that be? Do you mean to say that the Rebbe has a Rebbe?"

"Of course," she replied. "Why not?"

"Well then, who is that Rebbe?" I asked.

"The great Maggid of Mezritch," was her answer.

It made me think. "If things go so well for me after I visit my Rebbe, how much more will my affairs flourish if I go to see my Rebbe's Rebbe!"

The idea intrigued me. I paid a visit to the Maggid. Attracted by his greatness as well as the irresistibility of my logic, I continued to travel to him periodically. I gave donations and received blessings, while I ceased completely to visit Rebbe Zusha.

So I should have become richer, right? Well I didn't. As I mentioned earlier, my financial situation has deteriorated considerably and is continuing to downslide.

You know, now that I've told you the story, perhaps I do understand why this has happened to me, after all. Surely the beginning of my fall can be traced to when I switched allegiance from the Rebbe to the Maggid. Perhaps I should go back?

Well, I did it. I returned to Anipoli. And do you know what Rebbe Zusha said to me? I was astounded by his words.

I told him how perplexed and pained I was that when I went to his Rebbe, the rebbe of my rebbe and thus presumably even a greater person, for some reason things became much worse for me rather instead of better. Then I asked him if he knew why that should be.

He claimed that the explanation was quite simple.

"Really, I'm not a tzadik at all," he insisted, humbly. "When you used to give me money, even though I was unworthy of receiving it for the reason you were giving it to me, the Heavenly Court was therefore not exacting with you either, and you were granted wealth even though you did not really deserve it. But when you started being particular about who is greater than whom and decided to visit the great Maggid - who really is a tzadik - the Heavenly Court started to be particular about evaluating you. When they discovered that you were not in truth worthy of all that wealth, they accordingly decided not to bestow it upon you!"


[Translated and freely adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Sipurei Chassidim vol. I # 234.]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Zusha of Anapoli
(?- 2 Shvat 1800), was a major disciple of the Maggid (see below). The seemingly unsophisticated but clearly inspired "Reb Zusha" is one of the best known and most beloved Chassidic personalities. He and his famous brother, Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, spent many years wandering in exile, for esoteric reasons.

Rabbi Dov Ber (c.1700-19 Kislev 1772), the son of Avraham and Chava, known as the Maggid of Mezritch, succeeded his master, the Baal Shem Tov, as the head of the Chassidic movement. Most of the leading chassidic dynasties stem from his disciples and his descendents. The classic anthologies of his teachings are Likutei Amarim and Torah Ohr (combined by Kehas Publishing as Maggid Devorav l'Yaakov), and Ohr HaEmmes.

Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

back to Top   back to Index   Stories home page
Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION