Reb Zusya was one of the pioneers in the Hasidic Jewish movement (This movement began as an alternative, hip-Judaism – a breakaway, renegade way of doing Judaism. They prescribed dancing, drinking, and enjoying life, as they believed these kinds of activities were more important to God than rote prayers. Ironically, today, they are known for being quite fixed in their practice.)
There’s a story of Reb Zusya lying on his deathbed.
While reflecting over his life, Zusya became agitated and worried.
Trying to comfort him, his disciple said, “Zusya, do not worry, for God will laud you and praise you, because you were almost as wise as Moses and Solomon. Surely you will go to paradise. Master, do not worry.”
Zusya turned to his disciple and said, “My friend, I am not worried that God will say, ‘Why were you not as wise as Solomon?’ Or, ‘Why were you not as wise as Moses?’ I’m worried God will say, ‘Why were you not more like Zusya?'”
It’s a great anecdote, isn’t it?
The moral: God isn’t interested in judging any of us comparatively. God doesn’t care whether or not we’re similar or dissimilar to anyone else on the planet. God is only judging us based on how much we live up to OUR full potential, and how true to ourselves we are in this life.
What a wonderful notion that is.
But, there’s another concept – an even more important message – I want us to take away from this story:
No one has a problem with Rabbi Zusya saying, “This is what God says.” Nobody called him blasphemous for stating, “This is the message God is giving me, based on how I understand it.”
In other words, he put words into God’s mouth. And that was OK.
How about you and me? Why don’t we feel we can do the same? Why can’t we look someone in the eye and say, “I’m certain God wants this from me,” or “I’m positive God wants that from me”?
You and I have the exact same authority as anyone else in this regard. We have the same authority as Moses, as Solomon, as Rabbi Zusya, as any “black hat” Hasid – you and I both know what God wants from us, because it our birthright to know.
This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
Use your God-given gifts to the fullest while you are on this planet, and be yourself.