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 tailor.

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 the baron.

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.

Biographical note:
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.


Yerachmiel 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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