Sitting in the Plate
In the days before Reb Yissacher Dov of Radoshitz became known as a Rebbe, he was so poor that he often fasted because he simply had no bread to eat.
One year he had eaten nothing for a few days before Yom Kippur, and even after the fast was over he had nothing better than meager rations of bread and water. Nor could he afford to prepare anything at all for the oncoming festival of Sukkot.
After the evening service on the first night of the festival he remained in the synagogue, for he knew that at home there was nothing to eat. But he did not know that on the eve of the festival his wife had sold some modest item of jewelry that she had found among her possessions, and with the proceeds had bought braided challahs, candles and potatoes.
When he decided that most people had by now finished eating in their sukkot and had probably returned to their houses, he left the synagogue and went home.
Entering his sukka, he was overjoyed to see candles and challot on the table. He washed his hands, recited Kiddush, and sat down to eat. By this time he was well-nigh starving, so he ate the potatoes which his wife served him with a ravenous appetite.
While he was eating, a thought flashed through his mind.
"Berl," he said to himself, "you're not sitting in the sukka: you're sitting in your plate!"
And he stopped eating.
The Beautiful Sukkah
On the eve of Sukkot, Reb Chaim of Zanz told his sons that he needed several thousand rubles. As soon as they brought him the money that they had quickly borrowed from various wealthy householders, he distributed it all to the needy.
As he entered his sukka that evening he said: "People are accustomed to decorate their sukkot with all kinds of pretty ornaments. But the beauty of my sukka is different: tzedaka, charity -- that is what makes my sukka beautiful!"
For the Sake of The Sukkah
Year after year, Reb Mordechai of Lechovitch used to prepare a stock of boards and lend them out to the poor folk of the town during the few days between Yom Kippur and the festival of Sukkot.
One year, on a Friday, the very eve of Sukkot, a threadbare cobbler, lame in one leg, made his way up to the door of the tzadik. Could he borrow just a few planks for his sukka? The tzadik answered that there were none left.
Looking out of his window, he then saw the ragged fellow limping from house to house, still in search of a few boards. He felt so sorry for him that he burst into tears.
"Master of the Universe!" he cried. "Just look how Your Children cherish the mitzva of living in a sukka. See with what self- sacrifice they are determined to fulfill it! It's raining outside. The alleys are full of mud and mire. Yet there he tramps that ragged cobbler, lame in one leg, and wearing torn shoes -- looking for boards for a sukka. Look down, then, Master of the Universe, from Your holy dwelling place in Heaven. Bless Your People, Israel, and "spread out over them Your Sukka, Your Tabernacle of Peace," with the coming of our righteous Redeemer.
The tzadik then climbed up to the roof of his house, and searched about until he found a few boards. These he handed to his attendant with the instruction that he should run after the cobbler with them, and since it was the eve of Shabbat, when time would be even shorter than usual, he should help him to build his sukka as well.