The shiur was over and the young man was making his way out of the Beis HaMedrash. Suddenly, something caught his eye.
"What is that?" he thought.
He went closer to get a better look. Sure enough, a significant sum of money was resting on the bench. No one was anywhere near it.
"Someone lost this money," he thought to himself. "However, I may be able to keep it. Money has no identification, and this is a Beis HaMedrash, where many people come in and out of all the time. However, I should ask a Rav to be sure."
The young man picked up the money and took it to the Rav.
"This money must be returned," said the Rav. "It is a specific number of bills, and it is folded neatly. That is enough identification for the owner to claim it. Put up a sign in the Beis HaMedrash that you found a sum of money, and the one who lost it will contact you. If he can identify the number of bills and the amount of money, then it is his."
Sure enough, shortly after the young man posted the sign, he received a phone call.
"I'm so happy that someone found the money."
"Can you identify it?"
"Yes. It was three bills of 100 shekels each, folded in half."
"You're right. Meet me in the back of the Beis HaMedrash and I will give them to you."
Both men were so happy. One would get his money back, and the other would get the mitzvah of hashovas aveidah (returning lost objects). They met in the back of the Beis HaMedrash. The young man was ready to hand over the money, but the other man stopped him.
"Perhaps it's not my money?"
"But you identified it. The Rav said that it is yours."
"But perhaps I did not give enough identification. I wouldn't want to take someone else's money."
The young man was stunned. This man would not take the money because he wasn't sure if it was his. "Let's go to the Rav," he suggested. "He will tell us if you can take the money." And so, they went to the Rav. Each side told his story.
"The money is yours," said the Rav to the man. "Is the Rav sure? I don't want to take someone's money."
"I'm sure," said the Rav.
At this point, the young man could no longer contain himself, and he began to cry.
"Oy vey, why are you crying?" asked the Rav.
"This is truly a Holy Nation. I only want to give him the money, and he does not want to take it. 'Who is like Your nation, Israel.' What other nation is so G-d fearing that they will not touch a penny of money that is not theirs?"
Kinderlach . . .
We are all part of a truly Holy Nation. We inherited the trait of honesty from our ancestry - Yaakov Avinu. We find the mitzvah of returning lost objects in this week's parsha. The next time you see a lost object, think of your great-great-grandfather - Yaakov Avinu. Make every effort to return it. Wear the crown of holiness on your head.
Think About Others
"An Ammonite or Moavite shall not enter the congregation of Hashem." (Devarim 23:4). A man from the nation of Ammon or Moav is not allowed to undergo conversion to become a Jew. Why? The verse states two reasons: "They did not offer you bread and water while you were traveling and they hired Bilaam" (Devarim 23:5). They didn't give you bread and water? That pales in comparison to hiring Bilaam to destroy the entire nation. Why are the two deeds mentioned together, and why is the bread and water mentioned at all?
Rav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel zt"l answer the question as follows. The verse is revealing the root of the problem. They did not treat guests properly. The Jewish People were on their way to the Land of Israel after forty years in the desert (as Rashi explains in Bamidbar 21:13). They asked Moav if they could take a shortcut and pass through the land, but Moav refused. They showed a bad middah (character trait). Here was a nation, weary of travel, wanting to get to their destination a little quicker. Consider them and their hardships. Get outside of yourselves. Be nice to them. No. We don't see them at all. We only think about ourselves. People who do not think about others do not see a big difference between being inhospitable and being killers. The lack of hospitality revealed their true nature.
Kinderlach . . .
Abba just came home and you are plotzing to jump all over him and tell him all about your day. But think for a minute. He has been out of the house the whole day, battling the outside world. Give him a few moments to relax when he comes in. Bring him his slippers and a nice drink. Consider him. It's naptime on Erev Shabbos and the whole house is quiet. You and your sister get into a disagreement. Don't blow it up, start screaming, and wake up the whole house. Consider others. They are sleeping. If you want Hashem to consider you this Elul, you must consider others.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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