Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

The Holy Reb Zusya

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Jan• 26•12

The Holy Reb Zusya of Blessed Memory (1718-1800)

This post is in honor and blessing of the great life and teachings of the holy Reb Zusya, of blessed memory, who died on the 2nd of Shevat (today) in the Gregorian calendar year 1800.

The first Reb Zusya story I ever heard instantly pierced my heart, and became a steadfast narrative “compass” that  continues to help me chart my course through life’s unfolding journey.

The story goes like this:

Lying on his death bed, Reb Zusya was very upset and crying, tears streaming down his face.

His students asked with great concern, “Reb Zusya, why are you upset? Why are you crying? Are you afraid when you die you will be asked why you were not more like Moses?”

Reb Zusya replied, “I am not afraid that the Holy One will ask me ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Moses?’ Rather, I fear that the Holy One will say, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Zusya?’”

I am in debt and deep gratitude to Reb Zusya, to his students, and to the students of his students, including the generation of students in which I currently live. I’ll share more Reb Zusya stories on this website during the moon cycle of Shevat. For many centuries to come, may the wisdom and teachings of the holy Reb Zusya continue to be accessible, and to readily affect people and their life choices. Especially yours…

On Reb Zusya’s tombstone are the words:

“One who served God with love, who rejoiced in suffering, who wrested many from their sins.”

(Cited in The Tales of the Hasidim by Marin Buber, p. 251)


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