Sunday, August 1, 2010

Where Credit is Due

Before he was well known, Rav Zusia of Anapoli, zt”l, was very poor and not respected. Although he lived in a city where there was no lack of wealthy people, they would not respond to the entreaties of a poor person unless he literally begged them for bread. Even when grudgingly donating they would only give the bare minimum. And they certainly never checked to see if one of the destitute of the community required assistance.
After many years of avodas Hashem spent in dire poverty, Rav Zushia started to be known as of one of the greatest students of the Maggid of Mezeritch and a tzaddik in his own right. Shortly after Rav Zusia became renowned, one of the wealthiest men in the community decided to make a banquet in honor of the town tzaddik. He invited all of the most worthy people in the town to honor Rav Zusia. Although this man was very generous when it came to what interested him, he was very stingy with the poor.
During the feast, Rav Zusia put some meat and soup on his spoon and smeared it on his resplendent garment strangely intoning, “Take, bekeshe, since it is only in your honor that this meal has been convened…”
When he noticed the other guests staring at him, Rav Zushia explained his strange behavior. “I was just thinking about why I have suddenly become a guest of honor here. Why, until now, although I was starving it was very difficult to get even a little food. Now look at this meal—surely this is inexplicable.
“It can’t be because of anything I have done since, due to my sins, I do not discern any way that I have improved spiritually, so it must be the new garments I am wearing. Isn’t it only fair that I share the meal with what apparently prompted it?”
After telling this story, the Munkatcher Rav, zt”l, applied it to a famous gemara. “In this context we can understand why Rav Yochanan called his garments, מכבדותי. He saw all the honor directed at him which he felt was undeserved and could not understand why they were honoring him until he realized that this was on account of his garments. They must be the reason he was afforded such honor!”


yitz said...

Great story, which reminds me very much of this one.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Thank you for the chizuk and for sharing the story.