#529 (s5768-18 / 1 Shevat 5768)

Downloading from the Primary Source

A man troubled by a strange dream came to seek the advice of Rebbe Zusya of Anipoli.

Downloading from the Primary Source


Once, a man came to Anapoli to consult the holy Rebbe Zusha about an upsetting dream that had recurred several nights consecutively. With each repetition the effect of the dream became more powerful, and now he was no longer able to sleep.

"In my dream," he tearfully told the Rebbe, "my father of blessed memory, who passed away a short time ago -- may he rest in peace -- appears to me and tells me I should go to the church and convert, Heaven forefend!

"The first time or two, I managed to ignore the dream, but he keeps coming back to me and now even threatens me with frightening consequences if I don't comply.

"Help me, Rebbe! I don't know what to do."

"This is what you have to do," replied Rabbi Zusha, after a few moments. "You must dig up your father's grave. It is for sure that there is a crucifix in it, or some other similar object of their religion. When you remove the crucifix or whatever it is, your father will be able to have his eternal rest unencumbered, and you will not longer have these disturbing dreams."

The Rebbe proved to be correct. When the grave was opened, they indeed found in it a few coins with the sign of the cross engraved on them. They apparently had slipped out of the pocket of one of the non-Jewish grave diggers.

* * *

The wondrous incident generated quite a stir. When word of it reached all the long way to Vilna, and someone related it to the world-famous Gaon (genius) of Vilna, known to be the most outstanding rabbinical opponent of the Chasidic movement, his reply startled all those who were listening. He said that in truth it was not such a wonder as a similar case is discussed in the Jerusalem Talmud (composed about 1500 years ago** - ed.). What he did find amazing, however, was that one of these rabbis of the chassidim should be familiar with such a scholarly source as this passage in the "Yerushalmi."

This tart response of the Gaon eventually made its way back to Anopoli and the ears of Rabbi Zusha. He shook his head in amusement. "Of course I did not see this passage in the Yerushalmi. What -- Zusha can learn the Jerusalem Talmud?" he said of himself deprecatingly.

"So how did you know that extraordinary answer then?" questioned his listeners.

He paused before replying. "Nu, those sages who gave the answer in the Yerushalmi - where did they see it first? That is where I saw it too!"



[Translated-adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin, and from Chasidic oral traditions.]

Biographic Notes:
Rabbi Zusya 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 "Reb Zusya" 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 Eliyahu [Kramer], the Gaon of Vilna (1720 - 19 Tishrei 1797) was one of the most prominent figures in the Torah world of recent centuries, his erudition covered the entire field of Torah scholarship (as well as natural sciences and mathematics) on which he wrote some 70 works. Despite his extreme seclusion - his ascetic assiduity has become proverbial - he exerted a powerful influence on Jewish affairs. Many of his followers strongly opposed the Chasidic movement.

** Editor's note:
In general, the Jerusalem Talmud is studied only by advanced scholars, because its terse style makes it so much more difficult to penetrate that the Babylonian Talmud. Also, it is not as relevant to the final rendering of the law as its Babylonian successor.

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.

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