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Lost and Found

Sarah (Fictitious name) wasn't like thousands of other young Israelis searching the world for their 'real' selves.

She had found what she was looking for.

After completing her compulsory tour of duty in the IDF, Sarah traveled to India to discover spirituality.  She sampled the wide variety of mystical experiences that India was famous for: drugs, gurus, miracle workers, yogis and other charlatans.   Nothing seemed to be quite a right fit for her, until she found a small, secretive group, deep in the forests of India, led by a wise and gentle guru.

The initiation was demanding, but Sarah threw herself completely into a new life of purification and meditation.  For months, she rose higher and higher in spiritual purity until her instructor recommended that she be anointed as a priestess.  Sarah was overjoyed and shared the exciting news with her parents on her next phone call home.

As 'fate' would have it, exactly at this time Sarah's beloved grandmother passed away in Israel.  During their weekly phone call, her parents suggested that she return to Israel for the funeral.

Sarah agreed, and traveled to Israel with the intention of returning to India in two weeks.  Her parents, on their part, were determined to do whatever they could to get Sarah out of the cult. The day after the funeral they brought rabbis, professors, even a psychologist or two, to speak to Sarah.  But nothing they said had any effect.

On Sarah's second Shabbat in Israel, the day before her flight back to India, her father requested that she accompany him to the local Chabad synagogue and speak to the Rabbi,
Rabbi Meir Halperin. 

When they arrived, the Rabbi was in the middle of giving a class on the commandment of retuning lost objects. He explained that although this commandment seems to have a strong basis in human logic, we fulfill it not because it makes sense to us, but only because it is the will of G-d.

Sarah exploded. "What!" She exclaimed. "What is wrong with doing good just
because it makes sense?  Do you think people are so bad or stupid that they
don't know to return lost objects to their owners? My god is nature! Spirit! When one is in tune with nature one will automatically do good!

After the class, she calmed down and Sarah and the Rabbi spoke for a while.  The rabbi explained to her how nature without the Torah can bring man to be an animal or worse.  Sarah, however, was unimpressed.  She longed for her guru and the forests of India.  The next day she boarded the plane and flew back to India.

It was a clear, beautiful day. The previous night she had purified herself through fasting and prayer. Now, along with five other prospective priests, she was slowly ascending the mountain led by their holy guru and several of his assistants.

Then, about an hour before they reached the summit, something on the ground caught the guru's eye.  It was a wallet. He gracefully and swiftly bent down, picked it up and put it in his pouch.

Sarah noticed.  She quickened her pace until she was next to him and softly suggested that he look in the wallet to see if there was identification.

"No" he answered calmly, looking at her with deep all-knowing eyes. "If god has caused it, then so it shall be.  The ways of god are unfathomable."

Sarah continued in the procession but she was confused.  The words of Rabbi Halperin kept ringing in her mind. "Man without Torah can be like an animal."

At the mountaintop, a large bonfire was burning, its light flickering off their faces and white robes.  The guru broke the silence. "Are you all willing to take the most important step in your lives?" he said majestically.

"Yes!" they all answered stoically almost in unison - except for Sarah.

"NO!" She yelled out suddenly. "NO, NO!"

The guru calmly answered.  "Very well, we cannot accept one who is not certain.  Return to the city and when you are sure, we will return here."

Sarah descended the mountain, and early the next morning took the first flight out of India, which happened to be headed for Australia.  In Australia, she met another representative of the Rebbe, Rabbi Eli Raskin, who began to teach her Torah-true Judaism.  The mitzvah of returning lost objects had returned Sarah to her rightful home. 

 

 


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