The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 4 June 2011 / 1 Sivan 5771

But Not the Peyot!

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"Come in and take a look at this child!"

This was the excited invitation issued by the great Torah Sage Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, of blessed memory (commonly known as "The Steipler") to the members of his household.

Standing before him was a seven year-old Bnei Brak boy and his father who had come to this leader of the Torah community to tell their moving story.

The terrible illness that had struck the child made it necessary for him to undergo chemotherapy treatment. When his parents relayed to him what the doctor had warned them about the pain he would suffer and that he would lose all his hair, the boy began to weep.

"I am not afraid of the pain or the embarrassment of being bald," he explained, "but how can I give up my peyot (sideburns) which are the mark of a Jewish child?"

As his parents watched in awe their son then turned his eyes Heavenward and thus addressed his Creator:

"Father in Heaven, I accept with love the pain and the embarrassment because I know, as my parents have always taught me, that You are merciful and do what is best for me. But how can I give up my peyot!"

This heartfelt prayer achieved its purpose. All of the boy’s hair vanished with the chemotherapy treatment and only his peyot remained. The hospital staff said they had never before seen such a thing and the father rushed to the "Steipler" to share with him his experience in the power of prayer.

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