#478 (s5767-17 / 27 Tevet 5767)

The Holy Slop Bucket

"Why do you cry?" asked Rebbe Zusha of his brother, Rebbe Elimelech.

The Holy Slop Bucket

The two saintly brothers, Rebbe Zusha and Rebbe Elimelech, who lived in 18th century Poland, wandered for years disguised as beggars, seeking to refine their characters and encourage their deprived brethren.

In one city, the two brothers, who later became mentors to many thousands of Jews, earned the wrath of a "real" beggar who informed the local police and had them cast into prison for the night.

As they awoke in their prison cell, Rabbi Zusha noticed his brother weeping silently. "Why do you cry?" asked Rabbi Zusha.

R. Elimelech pointed to the pail situated in the corner of the room which the inmates used for a toilet. "Jewish law forbids one to pray in a room inundated with such a repulsive odor," he told his brother. "This will be the first day in my life in which I will not have the opportunity to pray."

"And why are you upset about this?" asked R. Zusha.

"What do you mean?" responded his brother. "How can I begin my day without connecting to G-d?"

"But you are connecting to G-d," insisted R. Zusha. "The same G-d who commanded you to pray each morning, also commanded you to abstain from prayer under such circumstances. In a location such as this, you connect to G-d by the absence of prayer."

His brother's viewpoint, allowing him to view his problem as part and parcel of his relationship with G-d, elated R. Elimelech's heart. The awareness that the waste-filled pail in the corner of the room allowed him the opportunity to enjoy an intimate -- though different -- type of relationship with G-d inspired him so deeply that he began to dance. The two brothers were now holding hands and dancing in celebration of their newly discovered relationship with their Father in heaven

The non-Jewish inmates imprisoned in the same cell were so moved by the sight, that they soon joined the dancing. It did not take long before the entire room was swept away by an electrifying energy of joy, as dozens of prisoners were dancing and jumping around ecstatically.

When the prison warden heard the commotion coming from the cell, he burst open the gate, only to be stunned by the inmates enjoying such a lively dance. In his fury, he attempted to stop the dancing, but to no avail: The prisoners were by now totally consumed by an awesome happiness, stemming from a very deep place within their souls.

Finally, the warden pulled aside one of the inmates, demanding from him an explanation for what was going on.

The frightened prisoner related that the outburst was not his fault, nor was it the fault of the other inmates. It was rather the two Jews dancing in the center of the circle who triggered the trouble

"And what inspired the two Jews to go into such a dance?" thundered the warden.

The prisoner pointed to the pail in the corner of the room. "It is the pail, they claim, that brought about the joy in their heart; they discovered some new type of relationship through the pail."

"If that's the case, I will teach them a lesson that they will remember for a very long time," shouted the furious warden. He took the pail and threw it out of the cell.

Rebbe Zusha turned to his brother and said: "And now, my brother, you can begin your prayers."

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition of Rabbi Yossie Jacobson: YYJacobson@aol.com

Biographical notes:
Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhinsk (1717 - 21 Adar 1787), was a major disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov, and the leading Rebbe of the subsequent generation in Poland-Galitzia. Most of the great Chassidic dynasties stem from his disciples. His book, Noam Elimelech, is one of the most popular of all Chassidic works.

Rabbi Zusha of Anapoli (?- 2 Shvat 1800), was a major disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov. The seemingly unsophisticated but clearly inspired "R. Zusha" is one of the best known and most beloved Chassidic personalities. He and his famous brother, Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhinsk, spent many years wandering in exile, for esoteric reasons.

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.

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