Once a man came to Rabbi Dovber, the revered and deeply learned successor to the great Baal Shem Tov, with a question.
“The Talmud tells us,” said the man, “that a person should bless God for the bad in his life just as he blesses Him for the good. This I am unable to understand. If the sages had said, ‘Accept what is ordained from heaven without complaint or bitterness,’ this I can see, although it is sometimes difficult. Or if they had said, ‘Look for the good that can come from the bad,’ this also I can understand. But how can a person be as grateful for his troubles as for his joys? What human being can do this?”
The rabbi replied, “To find an answer to this question, you must go to my student Reb Zusha. He and he alone can help you.”
Accordingly, the man journeyed to the home of Reb Zusha, who lived with his wife and children in the smallest hut in the poorest village in the poorest corner of the country. When the visitor appeared at his door, Reb Zusha welcomed him warmly, and invited him to make himself at home.
The visitor saw that Reb Zusha had a very difficult life. The roof of the humble home barely kept out the rain. Their clothing was thin and patched. The family was suffering from various ailments, and the children looked like they were well acquainted with hunger. And yet in spite of all this Reb Zusha seemed cheerful, and made no comment at all about their hardships.
Finally, when it seemed the right moment, the visitor explained his reason for coming. “Our rabbi,” he told Reb Zusha, “has said that you can explain the following to me…” And he told him about the teaching from the Talmud that was puzzling him.
“Yes,” said Reb Zusha when he had finished, “you have raised a very interesting point. But I don’t understand why our teacher has sent you to me. It would make more sense to send you to someone who has known suffering.”