Weekly Chasidic Story #1017 (s5777-36/
11 Sivan 5777)
The Tailor of Nobility
He was terrified of what the baron might do to him in revenge for the ruined
outfit. In his plight he went to visit Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk.
Connection: Weekly Reading of Bahalotecha (end) -- "Moses was very
humble, more than anyone..."
The Tailor of Nobility
One of the famed barons in Poland planned to throw an extravagant
party for his friends in the Polish aristocracy.
In honor of the event he had his palace refurbished, planted new trees and
flowers in the surrounding gardens and hired master chefs to prepare all the
luxurious foods that he intended to serve. He employed many servants in various
occupations in order to ensure that his party be remembered for a long time
afterwards by the large number of people he had invited.
The baron wished to wear an extraordinarily impressive outfit, designed especially
for the occasion. He ordered his servants to find an expert tailor for him,
somebody who know how to tailor magnificent clothes. When his servants returned
to the baron, they brought with him a tailor who according to the testimony
of witnesses was a great specialist in this profession.
When the tailor was introduced, the baron scowled. The face of the man standing
in front of him and the way he was dressed clearly showed that he was a Jew.
The baron was not fond of Jews, to say the least, but since there was not much
time left until the big party, he had no other choice but to employ the Jewish
The baron asked him: "Zhid: I have heard that you are a master
tailor, and there is nobody to match your craftsmanship in the whole area. Are
you willing to take upon yourself the important task of creating a magnificent
outfit for me?"
"Certainly, your honor", said the tailor. "I am an expert in
this field and I have already made outfits for this duke and that baron,"
and he started to enumerate names of Polish aristocrats.
The baron accepted him as his personal tailor.
Already that same day the tailor began to take the baron's measurement. He
wrote down all the measurements in his ledger in an orderly fashion, instructed
the baron's servants on where to purchase the fabric needed for the different
parts of the outfit and he immediately began working.
The tailor labored diligently and with great self-confidence. After all, he
was a master tailor and he knew how to fashion such outfits in the most impressive
manner. When he finished his work, he proudly brought the finished product to
However, when the baron tried the outfit on, it did not fit him at all! One
sleeve was too short, and the other was too long, the seams were not straight
and the entire garment looked very odd. The baron was so furious that it seemed
he wanted to kill the Jewish tailor.
The poor tailor had to run away. He was very afraid of the wrath of the baron
and what he might do to him as a revenge for the ruined outfit. If the new clothes
were not ready in time for the party, the tailor might pay the ultimate price
In his plight he went to the holy Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk
in order to ask for his blessing and advice. The Rebbe listed attentively to
his tearful plea, smiled briefly, and responded.
"This is what you should do. Go back to the baron's estate. Take the
clothes and undo all the stiches. Do not leave even one stitch undone. Afterwards
you must sew everything back exactly in the same order as before."
The tailor returned to the baron's mansion and followed the instructions of
the Rebbe to the last detail. He undid all the stitches, took new threads and
joined the different parts together.
He told the baron's servant that he wanted the baron to try on the outfit once
again. Lo and behold! This time the outfit was a perfect fit! The baron was
so happy that he almost allowed himself to embrace the tailor! Of course, he
richly awarded him.
The tailor could not understand what had happened. He knew very well that he
had made no alterations in the outfit but had just sewn everything exactly as
he had done the first time.
He went to Rebbe Elimelech and asked him for an explanation.
The Rebbe told him: "When you started your work, you were haughty and
considered yourself to be a master tailor in your own merit. You forgot all
your talents are given to you from G-d. When you undid all the stitches and
remade the outfit, you knew that if it was to succeed, it was not because of
your skill but only due to the divine kindness of the Master of the Universe.
In the merit of this acknowledgment you were able to have success in your work!"
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Chassidic
Gems, vol. 2" by Tuvia Litzman, who heard it from Reb Mottel Kozliner.
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk [of blessed memory: 5477 - 21 Adar 5547 (1717
- March 1787 C.E.)], was a leading disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch,
successor to the Baal Shem Tov, and the leading Rebbe of the subsequent
generation in Poland-Gallitzia. Most of the great Chassidic dynasties in that
area stem from his disciples. His book, Noam Elimelech, is one of the
most popular of all Chassidic works.
Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor
of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories
to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells
them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.
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