Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5763 - July 23, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

adapted from a piece in YATED HASHAVUA

by F. Gefen

Sometimes, after reading the morning paper, over my last few sips of coffee, I take a casual glance at the "Lost and Found" column to satisfy my curiosity about what people lose and what other people find.

One day, I lost a small household item, really quite insignificant, but for some reason, it bothered me. Not that this was the first thing I had ever lost, but this time, a friend was staying in my house and a remark made me look at this little column in a different light. "People are sorry over every loss, even the smallest one."

Ever since then, the little lines at the end of the Classified Ads page come to life for me, for behind them are sad, troubled people with the potential to become happy and relieved people, regardless of what was lost or found, even the most trifling article.

And some words from the lady behind this unique part of the paper

For some reason, I was bothered by the problem of all those losers and finders who avail themselves of tree trunks and electricity poles. One day I came across a little sign about a lost watch and the next day, in a different location, a sign about a found watch. I wanted to connect the two but when I went back, the first sign was either not there or I hadn't remembered the pole it was tacked to.

Then Hashem planted in my mind the idea of setting up a lost- and-found phone service. It began years ago when I advertised my phone number, together with that of a partner. Before long, we were in `business.'

When YATED agreed to help us, I chose to capture my target audience's attention by the logo, "An address for those lacking an address."


One mother, whose children bring home all sorts of lost objects, complained to me. She would bring the item to the police station and they would return it to her after the owner had not been found. "I had no choice but to tell the children to stop collecting lost objects and bringing them home."

I discouraged her from stopping this practice. "Jewish property has to be in trustworthy hands. Don't tell them to leave it hefker."

Jews are glad to fulfill mitzvas hashovas aveida even though it may seem like a trifling matter. This raises our quality of life. There is no need to describe what happens when you lose something in a secular area. In 99.99% of cases, the loss is not reported. People may complain we don't have pretty gardens and clean streets, but we have grown accustomed to true quality of life.


A success story tells of the bride who found a gift in the wedding hall closet left by a previous kalla and another, of a young mother who found a gift clearly not intended for her at the Beit Hachlama. Notices were placed in the paper and the losers were found.

And another tells of a found wallet reported to YATED. The loser's son saw the ad and told his father, who retrieved his lost property intact, with great relief.

"Now I know why we moved from Tel Aviv to Bnei Brak," his wife said.

Then there was the heavy gold necklace found on Rechov Bar Ilan, reported immediately to our office. Within fifteen minutes, a `lost' call was able to match the two up (or so we assume. The match was not confirmed, even though we always ask to hear about successes...)


A woman told me she had lost a purse with 600 shekel on a #2 bus to the Kosel. She reported the loss to us and the purse was returned.

Sometimes it takes a special frame in the paper to give the notice its due, like the purse with 1,200 shekel found in a box of clothing being given away. The frame did the trick and the purse was retrieved.

Then there was the notice that went unnoticed about bags swapped en route. I called to check a few weeks later and hearing there had been no response, I suggested putting in another notice with more detail, like the musical instrument included in the bag. This did the trick and the next morning, the founder had been found.

Then there was the new suit forgotten on a bench near a bus stop. Luckily, the kiosk owner spotted it and took it in and, happily, it was returned to its owner.


Then there are the `near finders' who could be trained to become true finders if they took the trouble. Like the greengrocer who saw a stroller apparently abandoned on the sidewalk. Had he taken it in before closing, he would have been able to return it to the mother who called the next day. She had sent her children with it to buy produce, but they had forgotten, and carried the bags home without the stroller.

A `near finder' saw a pair of Tefillin by a bus stop and assumed that the owner would come back to look for it. By that time, it was no longer there. He called us, but his Tefillin were never found.


The note of joy in the voices of the people who call to let me know their lost item was found sometimes warms my heart for years. Every time someone reports back such an experience, I take part emotionally, as well. Like the child's jacket that was given a place of honor in our home for an entire month. Not only did I call the school in the area and place an ad in YATED, but I also tacked a sign where it was found. Then we waited.

One day the boy's mother called. Her sister had seen the ad. It was an exhilirating moment when she came and took back the lost jacket.


Your editor would like to report such a story. A sofer stam was dispatched with a large number of bags to drop off at our busy clothing center at Rechov Panim Meirot and inadvertantly left a bag with empty parchment cut to size. A day later he called up hysterically to ask if we had found them.

It was post Pesach time, with bags flying all over the place, but we did recall these strange things which we did not identify. Luckily, one of our volunteers, the wife of a sofer stam, had already spotted some loose ones and taken them home for safekeeping. After the call, she came down to help us round up the remaining scrolls that, not knowing what they were, we would have soon scrapped. Subsequently, over the next few days, we kept finding more parchments here and there.

In the end, he retrieved almost all of them and told us that they were valued at over $1000!

AND A PLEA to all those fine people who donate things to Gemachs, only to discover that "I gave away the pants to my husband's suit" or "the belt to my outfit". The trouble is that they remember 2-3 weeks down the line...

And while we are at it: Some jewelry was found in a bag donated to the yard at Panim Meirot 1 upon two separate occasions, around Pesach time. Call 02-5372303 for identification.

With a hope that all lost items are found. Including lost souls... lost hopes... Lost Tribes...


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