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Lost and Found

Not every lost object is ever found. But sometimes, a lost object can lead to a “find” of a different sort, as in the story we are about to tell.

Ronen Gridish was a young Israeli man in his 20's, who had become interested in studying Chabad Chassidism. At a certain point he decided that it was time to travel to the headquarters of the movement in New York, to the synagogue of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn. Only for two weeks, he told himself.

However, what Ronen found in Brooklyn captivated him so much that his visit stretched to weeks and then months. Ronen would spend his days in the synagogue intensively studying Torah and Chassidic texts. On Friday afternoons, he would join other chassidic students for “mivtzayim,” mivtza campaigns. They would travel to various locations in Manhattan and offer passersby the opportunity to perform mitzvot, such as putting on tefillin.

One Friday, Ronen and his partner traveled to Manhattan and were successful in getting a number of people to put on tefillin. On his way back to his apartment in Brooklyn, Ronen realized to his shock that his wallet was missing. Apparently he had dropped it somewhere, or perhaps someone had relieved him of it.

In his wallet was all his cash, credit cards, and a number of important documents.  At first Ronen panicked. How would he get through the next few days? What would he do without his important documents? He fell into the first available chair and tried to think logically.

He had already learned about the concept of “hashgachah protis,” or direct Divine supervision, meaning that G-d watches over and personally controls every aspect of creation, particularly as it applies to the life of a Jew. If it had been decreed in Heaven that his wallet go missing, surely there was a reason for it.

In order to avoid further losses, Ronen had to call his credit card companies and cancel his cards. However, his credit cards were based in Israel, and as it was Friday afternoon in New York, it was already Shabbat in Israel. Ronen would have to wait until the following evening to cancel his cards. In the meantime there was nothing he could do. On Shabbat it is forbidden to think about weekday matters, so Ronen did his best to put the missing wallet out of his mind and enjoy his Shabbat rest.

After Shabbat, after canceling his cards, the next item on Ronen's agenda was to call his insurance agent. He had been paying monthly car insurance premiums via credit card on a vehicle he owned in Israel. With his cards cancelled, he had to let the insurance company know that his next payment might be delayed.

He dialed the number of his insurance agent, and a woman answered the phone. It was the wife of the insurance agent. “From where are you calling?” she asked.

“From America.”

“Where in America?” she persisted.

“New York,” answered Ronen, puzzled.

“But where in New York?” she pressed.

Ronen was taken aback by the unexpected interrogation. But he answered politely, “I am calling from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the neighborhood of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

Suddenly the woman burst into tears. “I am sorry for mixing you in to a personal matter, but I must share with you what just happened.”

The woman related that she and her husband, the insurance agent, lived a religious life together. Recently, however, her husband had begun to have doubts in his faith, and was contemplating making some changes in  his religious life. She tried her best to dissuade him but was not successful.

As time went on, she began to feel strongly that the only one who could help in this situation was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “I did a search on my computer and found a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I poured out my heart to him and asked for a blessing. And just then you called me from New York...”

Ronen was overwhelmed. He asked her for the name of her husband and his mother's name, and while in the Rebbe's synagogue he composed a letter to the Rebbe, asking for a blessing for the couple, that they should merit to live a peaceful life together on a foundation of Torah and mitzvot. Ronen placed his letter into a volume of Igrot Kodesh, the Rebbe's published letters. When he opened the book, the letter on that page discussed the importance of speaking with a mashpia, a spiritual mentor.

Ronen decided to call his mashpia in Israel. From there, matters unfolded quickly. The mashpia called the insurance agent and asked if he would be interested in a weekly study session in Chassidut. The agent agreed, and because of these sessions he was strengthened in his observance of Torah and mitzvot.

Ronen concludes, “During my conversation with the woman, I had a feeling that this was the reason I lost my wallet. It was a small price to pay to help bring a bit of peace of mind to this couple.”


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