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Perspective

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A man once came to Rabbi DovBer, the famed "Maggid of Mezeritch," with a question.

"The Talmud tells us," asked the man, "that 'A person is supposed to bless G‑d for the bad just as he blesses Him for the good.' How is this humanly possible? Had our sages said that one must accept without complaint or bitterness whatever is ordained from Heaven -- this I can understand. I can even accept that, ultimately, everything is for the good, and that we are to bless and thank G‑d also for the seemingly negative developments in our lives. But how can a human being possibly react to what he experiences as bad in exactly the same way he responds to what he experiences as good? How can a person be as grateful for his troubles as he is for his joys?"

Rabbi DovBer replied: "To find an answer to your question, you must go see my disciple, Reb Zusha of Anipoli. Only he can help you in this matter."

Reb Zusha received his guest warmly, and invited him to make himself at home. The visitor decided to observe Reb Zusha's conduct before posing his question. Before long, he concluded that his host truly exemplified the Talmudic dictum which so puzzled him. He couldn't think of anyone who suffered more hardship in his life than did Reb Zusha: a frightful pauper, there was never enough to eat in Reb Zusha's home, and his family was beset with all sorts of afflictions and illnesses. Yet Reb Zusha was always good-humored and cheerful, and constantly expressing his gratitude to the Almighty for all His kindness.

But what was is his secret? How does he do it? The visitor finally decided to pose his question.

So one day, he said to his host: "I wish to ask you something. In fact, this is the purpose of my visit to you--our Rebbe advised me that you can provide me with the answer."

"What is your question?" asked Reb Zusha.

The visitor repeated what he had asked of the Maggid. "You raise a good point," said Reb Zusha, after thinking the matter through. "But why did our Rebbe send you to me? How would I know? He should have sent you to someone who has experienced suffering..."

From Once Upon A Chassid (Kehot, 1994), by Yanki Tauber.
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Hanalah Austin September 2, 2013

I have another question. Why did Zusya weep when he died?
Why did he say that Gd would say to him, "Why weren't you Zusya?"
What should Zusya have done to have been truly Zusya?
What did he neglect, omit, fail to do?

As for the story--yes, an attitude of gratitude makes life a joy.
I am scheduled for cataract surgery. I use a magnifying glass and a flashlight in a well-lighted room because the room is dim to me and the letters are hard to tell apart.

But when I wake up I say Modah ani.
I can breathe.
I can still see.
I can still walk.
I can eat.
I can even indulge in fruit occasionally.
I can say Asher Yatsar.
I can hear the birds singing outside my window.
I can see the red flash of the cardinal's wings.
I can see the sparkle of the sunlight on the morning dew.
I can sit with the congregation in prayer.
I can do so much.
I am blessed in so many ways.
Thank GD for gratitude!
Try it. Make your own list. Do it for 20 minutes. You will think of so much!
It's amazing how good you will feel. Reply

Anonymous wyoming September 1, 2013

graditude The comments are so old, I doubt anyone will read this. My children asked me "why do you always thank Hashem for hot water when you wash your hands or shower?" -- My landlord was a family member and therefore felt it was not a priority to fix my hotwater heater which had ceased to work. I went more than two months without hot water. There is nothing like going without something you think you need to make you realize two things -- one that you can live without something you thought you needed and two -- to make you grateful to have what you want. Ingratitude is the worst sin, through ingratitude you can justify all sins but with gratitude you can praise the One who is responsible for all your wellbeing both in the things you need and the things you want. I am truly grateful for hot water every time I use it for 10 years now and may it never happen that I become ungrateful and may Hashem be willing that my children have learned gratitude and profess it all their days. Reply

mendy miami July 25, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I read it. Never doubt the power of your words. Very powerful! Reply

Daquan Williams Seagate N Y August 1, 2013

A good way to thank The Creator (may He be blessed0 is to just be a good guy, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe said. Help whomever you can in any way that you are able, ie, a hearty good morning to someone who seems downtrodden, a smile, a donation of whatever and the word whatever means just that, whatever you can give to help someone. I once heard the words, "You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your might", so, a good way to help The Lord is this: When The Creator sees that you are not busy or that your hands are not loaded and says, "See that guy over there, he needs a hand ", do as ordered and give someone a hand. Reply

Mrs. Beatriz Reis April 3, 2012

Re: perspective I love the idea of a gratitude list. Just great.
Thank you. Reply

Anonymous December 29, 2009

perspective Oh, how it annoyed me when a friend advised me to write a gratitude list every day. How could I think of three new things to be grateful for when a friend passed away from cancer, another was just diagnosed and on and on. But I did it anyway and though I would never say I'm always aware of all that I have to be grateful for, it has shifted my perspective. It has shifted my world. Such a little thing, a gratitude list, such a profound effect. Thank you for the stirring story. Reply

A. March 10, 2009

To f Maybe your situation is different but this is what is happening to us. We give more and more money to a relative when he asks for a loan, though we know that most of the time he lies about the reason why he is in need and that most of the time he does not return the money. We do this because we love him, though it endangers our own financial situation. Recently we realized that we give him money because it is easier than sharing our experience of self-improvement. We have not stopped our financial support yet, but slowly and lovingly we lead him to see how his behavior has ruined his carrier and his family relations. It seams to us that now he is honestly trying to change. It is not easy for him and it is going to be a long way but with G-d’s help may this person succeed in becoming self-sufficient, successful, and trust-worthy individual. Maimonides says that teaching a trade to a person is a greater mitzvah than giving him money. Reply

f March 6, 2009

What are the limits of mitzvot? What happens when we do mitzvot, (when we are asked for significants amount of money often) to a person we know in need? And this person does not want to get a job, but wants to keep receiving money from us.
Even though it hurt us financially, we did till the point we could not anymore.
Then we have this person upset.

We are always cheerful, but this situation of having someone upset took us the Peace away for a few days.

Trying to discern what was the lesson here, we appreciate some points of view.
Thanks.
Blessings. Reply

Alexandra Malamud February 14, 2008

Us vs. others Thank you Ann! This helps somewhat... in addition to the gift of money you are giving the gift of joy...

As for Reb Zusha, he is not grateful for the illnesses in his family, but for the healings when they are healed, or for them feeling better on the days when they feel better... or for them having courage to stay cheerful in the face of their illnesses...

I hope, he does not thank G-d for the opportunity to take care of the sick when his family is sick; this just does not sound right! Reply

Ann December 27, 2007

Us versus others This story is about accepting our own experience as intended for our good.

But doing mitzvot and deeds of hessed (lovingkindness) is also intended for our good.

For example, if I see a beggar on the street, I recall that Isaiah said, "Feed the hungry. do not ignore your own flesh!"

I used to feel bad giving them money, as if I were looking down on them for having less money than I. This concept had a bad effect: I was ashamed to look at them.

But one day I realized that I am not doing them a favor: they are doing me a favor. They are giving me a huge mitzvah for a very little bit of money. What a bargain! Thinking of them now as my equals, I could look them in the face, and they liked that. Now they were giving me another mitzvah. What riches! What a blessing for me! So I thank them. They like that too. What joy!

Part of Zusya's joy came from the opportunity to do for others, no matter how little. Reply

Alexandra Malamud New York, NY February 3, 2006

If I experience my own troubles as blessings, isn't there a danger that I end up accepting the troubles of my neighbor or the troubles of my people in the same way?

Overwhelming choice: acceptance of G-d's will versus rejection of the evil in the world... Reply

Anonymous via chabadlehighvalley.com January 29, 2006

As old as this story is, it is surprisingly fitting for all of us to remember when things become difficult. Reply

Helga Hudspeth September 19, 2005

In response to Anonymous, Toledo, OH You could have written: "G-d is never far from you"... (or)... "G-d is always close..." But you wrote of G-d as having no distance from me at all, not ever.

See, had you written (for example) that G-d is never far from me, I could then try for less distance between Him and myself.

But when one is reminded that G-d is NEVER away at all, searching for Him is out, and serving Him - in the way He wants to be served - is in.

It's all so very scary for me -- but it's also one of the most beautiful reminders I've been given.

Thank you so very much for your post. Reply

Anonymous toledo, OH/USA via chabadtoledo.com February 10, 2005

to anonnymous, Aug 6,'04 Don't be afraid of trusting G-d in every perspective. Think of the understanding you have accepted so far in life , about the good and the "bad"." G-d is never away from you; how can you be far from G-d? Reply

Anonymous August 6, 2004

It's not Reb Zusha's label of holiness that I want. It's his total trust in G-d that's like a crooked-finger thing for me. A trust that eliminates ALL labeling of the blessings that G-d chooses to give.

And yet I'm afraid of that very trust - and as long as I fear it, I will be billions of miles (to use just a small number) away from G-d, in a sense. That's the way I see it.

Reply

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