It was at a festive Rosh Chodesh meal that the students of the holy Baal Shem Tov discerned that their master was in an unusually bland mood. They attempted to arouse joy in him but to no avail.

Suddenly, in the midst of the festivity, a villager by the name of Reb Dovid arrived. As soon as he entered, the Besht began to show signs of joy and elation. He then honored the villager with reverence and a place to sit at his side.

The Besht’s extreme behavior aroused much curiosity among his students, and they were eager for an explanation.

Sensing their wonderment, the Besht sent Reb Dovid on an assignment [so that the Besht could explain his actions to the chassidim]. He then related to the chassidim that Reb Dovid was accustomed to saving every penny of his hard-earned income in order to purchase the most beautiful esrog1 possible. He would wait all year long and travel long distances in order to obtain an esrog of the highest quality.

Since he and his family were impoverished, his wife resented his spending all that time and money on his esrog, as she felt his priorities lay with meeting the material needs of the family. When he finally arrived home with his well-invested esrog, his wife was overcome with such great frustration that she broke off the esrog’s pitom (tip) — making it unfit for use.

Calmly he reacted: “She is most probably correct, for I must not be worthy of such an esrog. After all, how does this come to a simpleton like me?”

The holiday moments were nearing and Reb Dovid was resigned to join in with the other villagers in using the communal esrog. However, he still desired to be an owner of an esrog so that he could fulfill the mitzvah of “you should take for yourself” (i.e., possess your own). Seeing that he had no money and did not want to borrow on collateral, he took an object from his home and brought it to a dealer to be exchanged for cash. With the money, he joined in the ownership of the community esrog.The Besht concluded: Ever since the historical moment of the binding of Yitzchak, no one has been tested on such a magnitude. For this reason I have honored him, and in turn he has evoked within me great joy.

Sefer HaSichos 5696, p. 148