Bill McDonald's Newsletter

Becoming Zusha

From a trusted mentor, Michael Meade, I came across this old Hassidic tale about the beloved Rabbi Zusha:[1]

Some years ago, I’d heard this same story, and recall my delight in its hearing. But having recently added an additional birthday to the number of my life’s passage, it resonates within me at a deeper level. I can already add it to one of my favorites.

In times past, there was a famous rabbi, known as Rabbi Zusha. He was much beloved by his students because he was both honest and witty, as well as knowledgable. When he got old and ready to die, his students gathered around him, and found their beloved friend in uncontrollable tears. Knowing he was about to die, and and hoping for some final wisdom from his deathbed - they asked him hesitantly, “Zusha, how do you feel?” He answered, “I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what God might say to me.” They responded in surprise, “What! Why should you be afraid? You’re the greatest rabbi we’ve ever had. You have the vision of Abraham, the courage of Moses - how you possibly be afraid?” And Zusha said, “I’m not afraid that God might say to me, ‘Why weren’t you more like Abraham?’ Because I can say “I was never intended to be Abraham. And I’m not afraid that God might say to me ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses, leading the people?’ because I can say I was never intended to be Moses. But if God should say to me, ‘Zusha, why weren’t you more like Zusha?’ For that I have no answer.” And then he died.

» Read this newsletter

FREE Monthly Newsletter

Whether you are a client or not, you can always benefit from some free monthly words of wisdom:
Your e-mail address:

My monthly newsletter, “Paying Attention,” was launched in April, 2007.  Each one contains thoughts and ideas that occur in the general areas of psychology, culture, or other matters that come from the interface between my work and the rest of the world. They may also contain news and information about myself, and new areas of my work, study and research.


I promise that your email address will not be sold, rented, loaned or revealed to anyone else.

Bill McDonald

To unsubscribe from this newsletter send a request to