|The Baba Sali - Rav Yisrael Abihatzera zt"l|
This story was told by Rav Yosef Mugravi shlit"a, who was very close to Rav Elazar Abuhatzera zt"l.
Once when I was waiting to enter into the room and speak with Rav Elazar Abuhatzera zt"l, I began speaking with a yeshiva student who was waiting in the line ahead of me to speak with the Rav. As we were talking, he told me of the reason he had come. He had a question to ask the Rav regarding the mikvah. His situation was as follows, each morning he awoke an hour before prayers and he had two options in front of him, either to sit and learn Gemara before prayers, or to go to the mikvah in which case he would have to forgo the extra Gemara learning each morning. He then asked me what I thought the Rav would answer him, so I said that certainly it would seem to me that the Rav would tell you to learn Torah since we know that there is nothing greater than learning Torah. I then asked him to please come back and tell me what the Rav indeed answered him on his way out.
On his way out he came to me and said that the Rav told him, "Certainly going to the mikvah is preferable." I was a bit in shock by this answer and when my turn came around, I asked the Rav about this matter, to explain to me why indeed going to the mikvah was preferable than the extra learning? So Rebbe Elazar explained to me as follows,
Once when I was a young boy in Morocco, my grandmother came to me in the morning and said to me, "Elazar, a long time has passed since morning prayers, and your grandfather (the Baba Sali) who left the house at midnight has still not returned, please go to the shul and see where he is." I immediately ran to the shul to find that he was not there nor had anyone seen him that morning for prayers. I then ran in the direction of the river where my grandfather used to dip every midnight before he spent the rest of the night in learning. To my shock, I saw my grandfather lying on the ground by the edge of the river nearly completely passed out. Of course I immediately assisted him and then I asked him what had happened? He told me that at hatzot (midnight) when he came to dip, he was swept away by the current nearly to the depth of the river which was mostly frozen over at that time. Then after great effort and exertion, he was finally able to save himself. However, he fell over from exhaustion on the bank of the river until that moment when I had arrived. I then asked him in amazement, "But Grandfather, was it really worth it to risk your life to dip in the river and as a result you missed out on a whole night of learning as well as prayers at the netz hachama (sunrise)?" My grandfather then gave me an answer which became deeply engraved in me. He said, "It would be preferable for me to die for the mikvah, than to learn and to pray without the mikvah."
(Of course it should be clear that one should not risk their life in order to go to the mikvah, this was only fitting for someone as holy as the Baba Sali. In any event, we can take the mussar from this story of the great importance of going to the mikvah each morning which purifies a person and lifts his learning and praying to a much greater level.)
Immersing in the mikvah is the cure for all troubles. The mikvah has the power to purify us from every kind of sin and impurity. The spiritual power of the mikvah is rooted in the most exalted levels of wisdom and love (Likkutei Etzot, Mikvah #1).
Immersing in a mikvah helps to make it easier to earn a living and receive the flow of blessing. Strife and anger are dissipated and in their place comes peace, love, deep wisdom, healing, length of days, and the power to arouse people to return to G-d (ibid. #2)