A man once came to Rabbi Yerachmiel of P’shis’cha with his tale of woe:
“Rebbe, I am a tailor. Over the years, I have earned quite a reputation for my expertise and the high quality of my work. All the nobles in the area order their livery and their ladies’ dresses from me.
“Several months ago, I received the most important commission of my life. The prince himself heard of me and asked that I sew him a suit of clothes from the finest silk to be gotten in the land. But when I brought him the finished product, he began yelling and cursing: ‘This is the best you can do? Why, it’s atrocious! Who taught you to sew?’ He ordered me out of his house and threw the garment out after me.
“Rebbe, I am ruined. All my capital is invested in the cloth. Worse still, my reputation has been totally destroyed. No one will dare order anything from me after this. I don’t understand what happened! This is the best work I’ve ever done!”
“Go back to your shop,” advised Rabbi Yerachmiel. “Remove all the stitches in this garment, sew them anew exactly how you sewed them before, and bring it to the prince.”
“But then I’ll have the same garment I have now!” protested the tailor.
“Do as I say, and G-d will help.”
Two weeks later, the tailor was back. “Rebbe! You saved my life! To be honest, I had little faith in your strange idea. But having nothing to lose, I did as you said. When I presented the result to the prince, his eyes lit up. ‘Beautiful!’ he cried. ‘You have more than lived up to your reputation. This is the finest suit of clothes I have ever seen.’ He rewarded me handsomely, and promised to send more work my way.
“But I don’t understand—what was the difference between the first stitches and the second if the cloth was cut and sewn in exactly the same way?”
“The first stitches,” explained Rabbi Yerachmiel, “were sewn with arrogance and pride. The result was a spiritually repulsive garment, which, though technically perfect, was devoid of all grace and beauty. The second stitches were sewn with a humble spirit and a broken heart, investing in the garment an inner beauty that evokes awe and admiration in everyone who beholds it.”