In ancient Rome there lived a Jewish tailor. He worked very hard, and lived simply and modestly. Most of his savings from the whole week's earnings he would spend on Shabbat and Yomtov, which he held in great esteem and honor. One day, it was Erev Yom Kippur, the tailor went to the market to buy fish for the day's special meal, knowing that it was a great mitzvah to honor the day with a feast, and fish was especially fitting for the occasion.

He searched the whole market, but there was no fish to be had. Finally, he found a fisherman who had one large fish to sell. The tailor was very happy, and took out his purse to pay whatever the fisherman asked. At that very moment a man came up clad in a livery, and looking very important.

"Hey, fisherman!" the stranger called. "How much do you want for the fish?"

"But this Jew came first, my lord. I'll sell it to him if he will pay my price," the fisherman replied.

"I will pay any price you say," the tailor hastened to put in.

"But do you know who I am? I am the Lord Mayor's steward! Besides, I'll pay you more than the Jew," the liveried steward said emphatically.

The fisherman was at a loss what to do. In the meantime a crowd gathered and watched the dispute with great curiosity. Someone from the crowd shouted: "Sell it to the highest bidder!"

"I'll give you a whole dinar!" the steward exclaimed, hoping to silence the Jewish tailor at once and impress the crowd at the same time.

"What a fortune to bid for a simple fish!" some people in the crowd exclaimed with amazement. But before they got over their surprise, the tailor made his bid:

"Two dinars," he said quietly.

"Two dinars!" the crowd roared. "Did you hear that? Two dinars!"

"Three!" bid the steward.

"Four!" bid the tailor.

"Five!" bid the steward, plainly showing his irritation and annoyance.

"Six!" bid the tailor.

Thus the bidding went on, until the tailor bid no less than twelve dinnars for the fish! At this point the steward gave up, fearing that his master would think him insane if he brought him a fish at such an unheard of price.

The tailor paid the money, got the fish, and went home to prepare it for the Erev Yom Kippur feast.

When the steward returned to his master without fish, and told him what happened in the market, the Mayor sent for the Jewish tailor.

"How come you paid such a price for a fish?" the Mayor asked.

"Today is a sacred day for us Jews, my lord," the tailor replied. "It is the day before Yom Kippur, when our G‑d forgives our sins if we repent of them sincerely. On Yom Kippur we fast, but the day before must be honored with special feasts. Twelve dinars was all that I had saved up, but when it comes to a mitzvah, it cannot be measured in terms of money . . ."

The sincerity of the Jewish tailor, and his devotion to his religion, made a profound impression upon the Mayor, and he let him go home unharmed.

Little did the poor tailor know what reward awaited him there. When his wife opened the fish, she found a large pearl inside!

"G‑d has truly rewarded us," the tailor said.

Thereafter, they lived in comfort for the rest of their lives, and every year, when Erev-Yom Kippur came around, they would observe it even with greater honor than ever before.