Penniless as always, patient as always, Reb Zusya of Hanipoli knew no rest – and now his wife was nagging him for a new dress. In the end he had no option but to somehow put together the money needed. He bought the material and handed it to his wife to give to the tailor. Now, surely, he would enjoy some peace and quiet.But when Friday came, he saw clouds gathering over the features of his Rebbetzin.
“What is troubling you?” he asked. “After all, you now have a new dress, thank G-d, haven’t you?”
The Rebbetzin told him that when the tailor had brought her the finished garment, he had let out a deep sigh. When she asked him what lay behind it, he had told her that when the young man who was to marry his daughter had seen him sewing a dress, he had assumed that it was for his bride. When he had discovered that it was not, he was so angry that the poor tailor was sorely distressed.
“So,” concluded the Rebbetzin, “I immediately took the dress and gave it to the tailor as a gift for the bride.
“But did you pay him for his work?” asked Reb Zusya.
“No” answered his wife, “but I gave the whole dress as a gift!”
“How on earth could you ever consider cheating the man of his wages?” protested Reb Zusya. “The whole week this pauper has been working for you and for you alone, not for his daughter. He has been waiting anxiously, eagerly to finish this job so that he will be able to receive his payment and buy bread for his little ones. What is the poor man going to do now? Is it his fault that you decided to give the dress to his daughter?
And the Rebbetzin set out at once, borrowed a little money, and paid the tailor his wages.
From A Treasury of Chassidic Tales on the Torah written by Rabb S.Y. Zevin translated by Uri Kaploun