This was good news indeed that reached the ears of Reb Yossele of Ostila, the son of Rebbe Mordechai of Neshchiz. He had heard that a celebrated tzaddik was soon to pass through his town and very much wanted to have him as his guest, for this was none other than Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, known as the Chozeh (the "Seer") on account of his unusual powers of perception. Now he knew that when the Chozeh lay down on another's bed, he would sometimes cry out: "It's prickly!" He therefore summoned to his home a G‑d-fearing carpenter and instructed him to build a bed especially for the rebbe; to make sure that no one else should sleep on it; that he should immerse himself in a mikvah before working on it; and that he should entertain pure thoughts while working.

He therefore summoned to his home a G‑d-fearing carpenter...

The carpenter was not at all enthused by this odd proposition, and in fact was somewhat apprehensive. On the other hand he could not quite bring himself to reject an instruction given by the rebbe. In the end he set about the work with a dejected spirit and a feeling of unworthiness, knowing full well who was the holy man who was soon to sleep on this bed. As soon as delivered the finished articles to Reb Yossele, the tzadik stood it in a special room, made it up with bedclothes that were suitable spotless and ironed, brought in a chair, table and lamp, and locked the door. And in order that he should be certain that no one at all would enter the room, he kept the key in his own pocket.

A few days later Reb Yossele was overjoyed, for when he went out to greet his distinguished guest, the Chozeh in fact accepted is offer of hospitality. He conducted him to his room, showed him the bed which a G‑d-fearing carpenter had constructed especially for him, invited him to lie down to rest a little, and left the room in calm satisfaction.

"Help! It's prickly!" - came the cries of alarm from within.

Reb Yossele did not know what to think. Perhaps he should offer the Chozeh his own bed? But then it would not be very pleasant if the same thing happened there too. Besides, if that were the case, how would the tzadik rest after his arduous journey? Finally, however, he decided to ask the rebbe to sleep in his own bed, and the Chozeh agreed.

"You have restored life to all my limbs!"

When he woke up he said: "Excellent! You have restored life to all my limbs!"

Reb Yossele was relieved - but he still had a question: "I was a little surprised, sir, that you said that the new bed was prickly, for a G‑d-fearing man made it especially for you."

"Have no fear!" the rebbe reassured him. "The bed is kosher in every respect. Only one thing: it exudes a smell of melancholy, because it was built during the Nine Days of Mourning, and the carpenter, being a G‑d-fearing man, was lamenting the Destruction of the Holy Temple while he was working on it."

Selected and adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by Uri Kaploun from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.

Biographical note:
R. Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz (1745 - 9 Av 1815), known as ‘the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin’, was the successor to R. Elimelech of Lizensk (1717-1787), and leader of the spread of chassidus in Poland. Many of his insights were published posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.

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