A chassid of the Maggid of Mezritch once requested guidance from his teacher as to how to attain self-control. The Maggid sent him to the great Reb Zev Volf of Zhitomir. As soon as he arrived at Reb Zev’s home, he knocked at the door but there was no response. Only after a prolonged period of time did someone answer the door.

As he entered the home of this great tzaddik, he found him holding a broom in his hand. He watched as Reb Zev busied himself with cleaning the house and performing other household tasks. Only afterwards did he receive the chassid. Reb Zev did not ask why the chassid paid him a visit nor did the chassid mention anything of this nature. The chassid felt that if the Rebbe sent him there, he would certainly be taught a lesson in how to reach a state of self-control.

Several days passed and the chassid saw nothing that struck him as instructional in this regard. Finally the chassid said to Reb Zev, “I had an audience with my Rebbe, the Maggid, and requested guidance regarding self-control. The Maggid sent me to you, but I have yet to discern any behavior on your part that would give me direction in this area!”

The tzaddik Reb Zev replied: “What? You haven’t seen anything yet? The very moment you arrived here I showed you how one can be in control of himself: the first thing is to open the door only for whomever he chooses. The second lesson is that from time to time, one must clean out the dirt that has accumulated inside. Do these lessons not suffice for you?!!”

Oros B’Afeila, p. 130