See my previous post about the Yekkes’ meticulousness in bringing their tallises to the shul they will attend before shabbos.
There seems to be a relationship between a man and his tallis that can…well, define him.
A story is recounted about a magid, a travelling preacher, who arrives at a resort city and finds that many of the vacationers did not bring a tallis with them out of laziness. The preacher got up to speak after Shabbos services and cried, “Today you choose to travel without your tallis, but there is a much longer trip you will all take one day, and on that trip you will bring nothing but your tallis!”
This scenario played itself out in a story that happened to Rav Schwab’s own father, Yehudah (Leopold) Schwab of Frankfurt (b. 1876).
As a young man establishing himself in business he set out one day on a business trip. Not wanting to take extra luggage, he left his tallis home. No sooner he had arrived at his destination, there was a knock on the door of his hotel room. He opened the door to see his father standing there. “You have forgotten your tallis!”, he nudged. The young Leopold apologized and asked for the tallis. Not quite. His father made the trip to admonish him, but did not bring the tallis. He wanted his son to take the train back to Frankfurt and get the tallis himself! Thus the lesson would be properly learned.
When this story was recounted to the Brisker Rav, he proclaimed, “That trip (meaning the return trip of young Leopold) was a trip for the ages!” It was a lesson learned, and imprinted on generations!