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Korach was a scoffer. He ridiculed the mitzvahs that Moshe had taught the Jewish People in order to lessen their esteem of him. The Sages teach us that one of the mitzvahs he laughed about was tzitzis. He found it amusing that a garment entirely made of techeiles - blue wool - would still need a string of techeiles tied to each of its corners as tzitzis. Besides the reward we receive in the World-to-Come for fulfilling Hashem's commandments, often the mitzvahs protect us from danger in this world. Several years ago, I presented our readers with a fantastic story I had read in the excellent book by Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein shlita, Tuvecha Yabiu. Subsequently, in his classic Aleynu Lishabeach, Rabbi Zilberstein repeated the story and added some interesting information submitted to him by the hero of the story who confirmed all of the details as he had recorded them.
I, too, am repeating the story, for those who may not have read it then, and I will add the new information at the end. A young yeshiva student in Israel became very ill, R.l., and had to undergo a series of chemotherapy treatments. However, despite everything, he was determined not to let the situation dampen his spirits nor interfere with his Torah learning and observance.
He had been told that in the hospital he would have to wear only sterile clothes. When he came for his treatments though, he brought along a talis katan (a four cornered garment with tzitizis attached to each corner) which he had personally washed and cleaned to meet the strict requirements of the hospital. However, he was confronted by a Sabra nurse who stubbornly insisted that he could only wear the hospital clothes. The yeshiva fellow decided to be just as stubborn, since she was being totally unreasonable about it. The debate turned into a confrontation, and the non-compassionate nurse told him to wait outside in the waiting room until he would come to his senses.
After three long hours (!), a senior doctor "happened" to pass by and asked the young man why he was sitting there. The suffering fellow explained his dilemma to the doctor who replied that there was, indeed, no reason at all why he could not wear his religious garment if he had washed it properly. The doctor went in to instruct the nurse, but came out a few minutes later, visibly shaken. Frightened, the boy asked the doctor what was the matter. The doctor assured him that everything was fine, and told him to go for the treatment, dressed in his religious garb, and then he would tell him what had happened.
After the treatment, the doctor came to speak to the yeshiva bachur again. "I am not yet observant," began the doctor with tears in his eyes, "yet I witnessed today how Hashem watches over those who observe His commandments. When I went to tell the nurse that it was ok for you to wear your garment, I wanted to see exactly what she was about to give you. I was horrified to see that, unintentionally, she was about to administer the wrong treatment - something which would have brought you much closer to death. Had she gone through with it, I shudder to think what condition you would be in right now. But only because you insisted upon wearing your talis katan, I came along and discovered the terrible mistake and corrected it in time."
As I mentioned above, the young man phoned Rabbi Zilberstein and confirmed all of the details of the story. But then he complained, "You left out the most important part. It's been three years since that incident occurred and I am fully recovered, baruch Hashem! I got married and am raising a family - and the doctors cannot understand how this is all possible."
Shema Yisrael Torah Network