Lost… Found… Checked… Returned… Mitzvah!
Moshe continued with another Mitzvah, “You may be walking along and notice a lost item or animal. It would be a lot easier to pretend you never saw it and keep on going. Or even worse, to keep it for yourself. DO NOT DO THIS! Make sure to return all lost objects to their rightful owners.”
Indeed, Hashavas Aveidah (returning lost objects) is an important Mitzvah. So important, that, in many schools, it is the first topic traditionally taught to young students beginning to study the Talmud, a.k.a. Gemara.
“Okay dear students. Open your Gemara Bava Metsia. We are going to start from the second chapter. It’s called Eilu Metsios – and it’s all about lost and found.”
It’s a fact – a very sad one – people lose things all the time, and often cannot function until they find them. Imagine losing a passport or phone while in a foreign country. Ouch! How about missing your car keys? Or losing a wallet? How about losing a lot of weight? (Just kidding.)
To understand this “Lost and Found Mitzvah,” it’s time for a Shazak Scenario:
Feigy Foundabagstein strolls through the park and notices a beautiful brown leather briefcase lying on the grass by a bench.
“Hey! I found a briefcase!” exclaimed Feigy Foundabagstein. “I always wanted such a briefcase… It’s the perfect size… and it has a side pocket… perfect for my headphones!”
Feigy examines the briefcase and notices an identification tag… Then she looks up and sees someone frantically running around searching for something.
“Excuse me, Ma’am!” Feigy calls out as she runs after the lady. “Did you happen to lose something?”
The frantic lady looks at Feigy and says, “Well, what do you know! I did lose my briefcase! And it’s the one you’re holding!”
“Well, not so fast. I need a Siman – a sign that it really belongs to you. Tell me, what is your name?”
“And your address?”
“613 Shazak Drive.”
Feigy thought, “Hey, it’s possible that this woman, whatever her name might be, saw the ID tag. Who knows if she is the rightful owner?”
So, after some quick thinking, Feigy said,
“Now just to be sure, show me your picture ID.”
Tzippy quickly takes out her driver’s license and shows it to Feigy.
“It matches. Here you go! It’s all yours. And by the way, your license is expiring next month, you better get it renewed.”
With just a little effort, Feigy has performed a big Mitzvah and made one person a very happy woman.
So, there you have it… Lost… Found… Checked… Returned… Mitzvah… HURRAY! HaShavas Aveidah! The “Lost and Found Mitzvah!”