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It was the custom of R’ Zusia of Anipoli, to recite his morning prayers at length. After he concluded, he would retire to his room next to the Shul. Once there, he would open the window and lifting his eyes to the heavens call out, “Master of the World, Zusia (he always referred to himself in the third person) is very hungry and desires to eat something!”
Every morning, his attendant would wait until he heard R’ Zusia’s appeal, then he would bring in R’ Zusia’s morning meal of cake with a little schnapps.
One morning the attendant thought to himself, “Why doesn’t R’ Zusia ask me directly for his meal. In fact, who does he think he is fooling by calling out to Hashem like that. He knows full well that I bring him his food everyday.” So on the spot he decided that the next morning he would not bring R’ Zusia’s meal when he called out. He would just wait to see what would happen and where R’ Zusia’s would look for his meal.
The next morning, R’ Zusia awoke as usual, well before the light of day. As he did every morning, he first went to the town Mikveh to immerse himself in preparation for the day’s holy work. The night had been a rainy one in Anipoli, and the streets of the town had already turned to rivers of mud. In order to get from one side of the street to another, one had to cross on narrow planks that were laid across the flowing mud. As R’ Zusia was crossing in the direction of the Mikveh, a man whom he didn’t recognize, a guest in town, was coming towards R’ Zusia from the other side. When he saw R’ Zusia, gaunt, almost emaciated, dressed in rags without a tooth in his mouth, the stranger yelled out, “Itinerant!”, and with a hearty laugh jumped up and down on the plank causing R’ Zusia to tumble into the mud.
R’ Zusia didn’t say a word. He calmly picked himself out of the mud and continued on his way to the Mikveh, while the stranger sauntered off into the distance, chuckling merrily the whole way as he re-enacted his great prank over and over in his mind. When he arrived back at the inn where he was staying, he couldn’t help but brag to the innkeeper about his good prank. The innkeeper didn’t laugh so quickly. He asked the guest to describe the “itinerant” whom he had catapulted into the mud. He suddenly clapped his hands to his head and cried out in anguish, “Oy VaVoy, Oy Oy, do you know what you did!? That was not just some itinerant, that was the Rebbe R’ Zusia!”
Now it was the turn of the guest to cry out “Oy VaVoy”. R’ Zusia was known to all as a holy man and a Tzaddik. Trembling, the guest cried out, “Oy Vey, Oy Vey! What am I going to do now? What am I going to do now?!”
“Don’t worry”, exclaimed the innkeeper regaining his composure, “Listen to me, I know what you should do. R’ Zusia spends many hours every morning in prayer. When he is finished he goes into his private room next to the Shul. There he opens the window, and anybody can see how he leans out and lifting his eyes to heaven calls out, ‘Master of the World, Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!’ I’ll prepare some cakes and some schnapps for you to take to him. When you hear him call out to the Creator, you go in immediately with this gift, and offer it to him and beg his forgiveness. I’m certain that he will forgive you whole-heartedly.”
That morning, like every morning, after the prayers, R’ Zusia went into his room, opened the window and called o, “Master of the World, Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!” The attendant, upon hearing R’ Zusia, held his ground and clasped his folded arms together even tighter, waiting to see what the outcome would be. “Let Hashem bring him his cake this morning”, he huffed to himself.
Suddenly the door to the Shul opened and a man, holding a large plate of cakes and a bottle of schnapps came in and made his way to the room of R’ Zusia. He went straight in, put the cakes on the table, then fell to the floor in grief, begging the Tzaddik for his forgiveness (which he was certainly granted).
Let it be known, that the attendant came to understand that it really was the Master of the World who brought R’ Zusia his breakfast every morning.