Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar 5766 - March 29, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

By Sara Gutfreund

The Lost Treasure

Twenty years ago, Shoshana and Karen sat on the fluffy pink carpet in Shoshana's bedroom. It was a balmy, spring day, and the scent of freshly cut grass climbed through the curtained windows. They had spread out a picnic blanket on the floor, and set up a tea party for a circle of dolls and teddy bears. Shoshana had just had her seventh birthday party, and they were chatting about all the presents she had received.

"I got a pink bicycle with a white basket and a new doll that looks like a real baby. Want to see her?" Shoshana asked. Karen nodded as a shadow of jealousy began to spread across her face. Shoshana carefully picked up the new doll that was nestled in a circle of frilly pillows on her bed.

"Do you want to hold her?" Shoshana asked as she sat back down on the floor.

"Yes." Karen stretched out her arms to hold the beautiful doll that gave off an aroma of powdery newness. They sat in a puddle of sunlight, gazing together at the doll's perfect features. Then suddenly, Shoshana jumped up.

"Oh, I almost forgot. My grandma gave me a gold bracelet. A real one!" She skipped over to her dresser and opened a velvet jewelry box. A ballerina began to spin in the middle of the box as she lifted a strand of gold that sparkled in the sun. Sitting back down next to Karen, Shoshana held the bracelet reverently in her hand. It had her name engraved on it, surrounded by two Jewish stars.

"Oh, it is just beautiful!" Karen exclaimed. Shoshana skipped back to her dresser and placed the bracelet carefully back on its velvet cushion. They returned to their tea party, and then ran to play on the swing set. The next day, when Shoshana looked in her jewelry box, the bracelet was gone.

Now, twenty years later, it is a few weeks before Pesach, and Shoshana is cleaning her apartment in Jerusalem. She had become a baalas teshuvoh while working as a high- powered lawyer, and she finds the simplicity of cleaning to be soothing. She wouldn't dare tell anyone, but she loves to clean! It is so much easier than the complicated documents and suppositions that she used to work on for ten hours straight. And for some reason a shining, clean counter seems so much more rewarding than abstract arguments.

She hums as she cleans out the kitchen drawers. Her children have sponges too, and they are enjoying washing the walls. Shoshana watches them clean for a moment, and laughs as the baby tries to reach for a sponge from his stroller. He must want to clean too! She begins to throw out old scraps of paper, and then she sees an unopened envelope. It has an unfamiliar return address on it from Florida. As she picks it up, Shoshana realizes that it is heavier than a regular envelope. She shakes it. Something is inside! She opens the envelope, and unfolds the letter inside. How long has this envelope been sitting in the drawer? The letter is written on expensive, creme stationery, and there is a small object covered in tissue paper folded inside of it. Shoshana sees that the letter is dated a month ago. It reads:

Dear Shosh,

I know it's been many years, but when we were moving I found this in a drawer. I can't believe I have kept it for so long. If it's not too late, I want to apologize. It took me a long time to find you, but I am so glad to finally return this to you.

Love, Karen

Shoshana stares in amazement at the letter and then un-wraps the little package. The afternoon sunlight glints off of her long lost bracelet. It is so small that it could probably only fit her daughter. She sits down on a chair and holds the bracelet in her hand. She allows the memories to flow back. Her childhood home rises before her eyes. The marble staircase and the enormous hallway chandelier. Her bedroom with the pink carpeting and lace curtains. She can still see the miles of trees in the backyard and the little stream that ran behind the swing set. She can picture her mother cooking by the stove as she talks on the phone. She can remember being so small that she couldn't see over the counter.

And then she remembers that day when Karen came over to play, and her new bracelet disappeared. She had never thought Karen had taken it. But now she remembers how she showed off all her toys that day, and she remembers the shadow that fell across her friend's face. An inexplicable guilt rises up within her, and she turns to look at the letter again. Karen Jones. She must call her! The operator at the Florida information number finds Karen's number immediately. As if in a trance, Shoshana dials the number.

"Hello?" Shoshana recognizes the voice. The years melt away.

"Karen? It's Shoshana."

"Hi! I guess you got my letter."

"Yes. Thank you for returning it."

"I'm so sorry that I took it."

"Don't worry. All is forgiven. How are you?"

"Great. Kevin and I have two children, and we just bought a new house with a pool down here in Florida. It's right on the beach!"

"Oh, that sounds beautiful."

"How is Israel?"

"It's great."

"Do you have any kids?" Shoshana glances quickly at the row of children who are by now throwing sponges at each other.

"Yes, I have seven."

"Seven! Wow, you must have a huge house!" Shoshana looks around at her tiny, two-bedroom apartment.

"Well, actually I don't." She says softly. There is silence on the other end of the line.

"So are you getting ready for Passover?" Karen asks, breaking the silence.

"Yes. How about you?"

"Oh, well we have two holidays to prepare for because we celebrate Easter too. So I'm buying matzoh and painting eggs!" Now it is Shoshana's turn to be silent. What should she say? Just then the baby begins to cry.

"Karen, I have to run. It was so nice to speak to you."

"You, too. Take care."

Shoshana hangs up the phone and stares down at the bracelet again. She wishes that she could wrap up Karen's Jewish heritage and send it to her in an envelope. As she looks down at the bracelet, she notices the little, Jewish stars etched on each side. Karen has also been robbed, she realizes. Can someone be impoverished as she sits at a lavish table in a mansion by the sea? Karen has lost so much, and she doesn't even realize that she is missing anything. Shoshana closes her eyes and prays for the little girl with black curls who thought that a gold bracelet would make her happy. She puts the bracelet back into an envelope and sends it back.


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