Weekly Chasidic Story #1056 (s5778-25/
18 Adar 5778)
Hospitality for Man and Beast
"Honored Rabbis," he cried out to Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi Zusha.
"Why have you done this to me?"
Connection: Seasonal: Wednesday night-Thursday is the 231st yahrzeit
of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lishinsk
Hospitality for Man and Beast
For many years the two saintly brothers, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk
and Rabbi Zusha of Anipoli, wandered the back roads of Galicia. Disguised
as simple beggars, they journeyed from town to town and from village to village,
refining their souls with the travails of exile and inspiring their brethren
with words of wisdom and encouragement.
Late one evening, the brothers arrived in the town of Lodmir. Seeing a lighted
window in a large, well-appointed home, they knocked on the door and asked for
a place to stay the night. "I don't run a hotel," was the irate response
of its large, well-appointed resident. "There's a poorhouse near the synagogue
for wandering beggars. I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding accommodations
The heavy door all but slammed in their faces, and Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi
Zusha walked on. Soon they came upon another lighted home, whose resident, the
town scribe,* welcomed them in and put his humble hut and resources at their
Several years later, the two brothers again visited Lodmir. This time, they
were official guests of the community, which had requested that the now-famous
rabbis come for a Shabbat to grace the town with their presence and teachings.
At the welcoming reception held in their honor and attended by the entire town,
a wealthy gentleman approached them.
"Rabbis!" he announced, "the town council has granted me the
honor of hosting you during your stay. G d has been generous to me, and you'll
want for nothing in my home. I've already explained to your coachman how to
find my residence, though he's sure not to miss it-everyone knows where 'Reb
The gathering dispersed, and Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi Zusha went to pay their
respects to the town rabbi and meet with the scholars in the local study hall.
The rich man went home to supervise the final arrangements for the rabbis' stay.
Soon the coachman arrived with the brothers' coach and luggage. The horses were
placed in the stables, the luggage in the rabbis' rooms, and the coachman settled
in the servants' quarters.
Hours passed, but still no sign of the two visitors. Growing anxious, the host
sought out their coachman. "What happened?" he asked. "When are
they going to come here?"
"They're not coming," said the coachman. "Rabbi Elimelech and
Rabbi Zusha are staying at the scribe's home."
"At the scribe's?! What are you talking about?! You're here, aren't you?"
"Those were the rabbis' instructions. 'Take the horses and our luggage
to Reb Feivel's,' they said to me. 'We'll be staying with the scribe.' "
Reb Feivel rushed to the scribe's hut and fairly knocked down the door. "Honored
Rabbis," he cried, finding Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi Zusha before the fire,
having a cup of tea with their host. "Why have you done this to me? It
was agreed that I would host you. You must tell me what I have done to deserve
"But you are hosting us," said Rabbi Elimelech, "at least, that
part of us that you desire to host. Last time we were here, but without a coach,
horses, coachman and bundles of pressed clothes, you turned us away from your
door. Nothing about us, personally, has changed, so it is not us you want in
your home now, but our coachman, horses and luggage-which are currently enjoying
Source: As told by Yanki Tauber. Supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from //lizensk.com
and A Treasury of Chassidic Tales, Festivals (p. 194).
* Editor's note:
According to another version, he was "a poor chasid named Aharon, who was
related by marriage to Rebbe Aharon of Karlin.
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk [of blessed memory: 5477 - 21 Adar A, 5547 (1717
- March 1787 C.E.)], was a leading disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, successor
to the Baal Shem Tov, and the leading Rebbe of the subsequent generation in
Poland-Gallitzia. Most of the great Chassidic dynasties in that area stem from
his disciples. His book, Noam Elimelech, is one of the most popular of all Chassidic
Rabbi [Meshulam-]Zusha of Anapoli [of blessed memory: ? - 2 Shvat 5560 (?-Jan.
1800 C.E.)], was also a major disciple of the Maggid. The seemingly unsophisticated
but clearly inspired "Reb Zusha" is one of the best known and most
beloved Chassidic personalities. He and his famous brother, the Rebbe Elimelech
of Lizensk, spent many years wandering in exile, for esoteric reasons.
Connection: Wednesday night-Thursday is the 231st yahrzeit of the Rebbe Elimelech
Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor
of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories
to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells
them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.
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