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Sunday, January 21, 2007


Stoking the Holy Fires of Divine Service

Today is the 2nd of Shvat, the 207th yahrzeit of the Rebbe Reb Zusia of Anipoli, talmid of the Maggid of Mezritch and the younger brother of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, who introduced him to Chassidus. He was a great anav [humble person] and had fervent yiras Shamayim – fear of Heaven. His divrei Torah appear in a small sefer called Menoras Zahav [“The Golden Candelabra”]. Reb Zusia is also the forefather of the Hornsteipel Twerski family, who are direct descendants [ben acher ben] of his.

Last year’s post: The Rebbe Reb Zusia and the Niggun of Forgiveness.


Stoking the Holy Fires of Divine Service

For three years, the Rebbe Reb Zusia of Anipoli remained in the great Maggid's Beis Medrash and forgot about the entire world - including his wife and children at home. He couldn't imagine leaving this Heaven on Earth. One day, the Maggid reminded him that it was time to go home.
On his way back, he visited his brother, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, who had yet to "taste" Chassidus.

Young Reb Zusia spent much of his time in contemplative isolation in the forests, singing praises to Hashem. Even with his brother, he seemed absorbed in his thoughts. When his brother questioned him about his ways, the Rebbe Reb Zusia responded with a parable:

There was once a great, wise king who was beloved throughout his kingdom. A wealthy plantation owner had a burning desire to serve the king. He sold everything he owned, went to the king's city, and tried to find work in the palace, where he could see the king whenever he wanted.

The only job available was that of an oven stoker, who heated the palace. Although this position was one of the lowest, it required the king's approval. Using his wealth to bribe the appropriate officials, the man got the job.

That winter, he took special care to provide steady, even heat. The king took notice of this and summoned the man to him, asking him how he could reward him for his faithful, dedicated work.

"I am not looking for financial reward, for I have sold all my possessions out of my love for the king. Indeed, my only goal is to serve the king. My only wish is to be able to see the king whenever I'd like; this is worth more to me than anything," was his reply.

While the king was delighted with his new subject’s deep admiration, he could not fulfill the request. "I'm sorry, but my servants cannot come to me whenever they wish. However," the king continued, "above my room is an attic. You may go there and drill a hole in the ceiling, and whenever you desire, take a telescope and look at me, and no one else will see you." Delighted, the oven stoker did just that.

Shortly thereafter, the prince was banished from the king's presence for one year, because he spoke foolishly at a royal banquet. Eventually, the prince discovered the oven stoker's telescope in the attic, and, longing for his father, he, too, peered into it.

"Woe to you, prince," said the oven stoker. "I am but a common, unlearned person, and I have no other way of seeing the king. But you, his son, should be seated right next to him. You only need to be careful with your words."

As he finished the parable, the Rebbe Reb Zusia told the Rebbe Reb Elimelech humbly, "You know I have neither Torah nor wisdom, and I must slave to see the splendor of the Shechina [Divine Presence]. But you, a great scholar, need only be careful with your words - Torah and prayer - to be seated next to the King of Kings, and to behold His Presence."

Inspired by this story, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech, too, journeyed to Mezritch and became one of the Maggid's prominent pupils.


The above story was adapted from The Maggid of Mezritch, and expanded upon. There is another version of this story in R. AJ Twerski’s book, “The Zeide R. Motele.”

Zechuso yagein Aleinu - may his merits protect us!

Shabbat Perashat Shemot i were at the modzitzer tish on bene berak. It was amazing.
You were there?
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