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 When I recently returned from my trip to the United States to attend the wedding of my grandson, I arrived back here in Jerusalem in the early evening. As can well be imagined, I was very tired, so I didn't immediately unpack everything. Instead, I went to bed about an hour after I arrived. I had placed my wallet into my carry-on bag, and I gave it no further notice until the next morning, when I finished unpacking everything and discovered, to my dismay, that my wallet was missing.

I originally thought that it may have fallen out of the carry-on bag when I went through security at Kennedy Airport in New York. I remember that my bag was opened, and I saw my wallet in the bag, and I presumed that if it were lost, that must have been the place where the loss occurred. Naturally, I was disheartened at the loss of the wallet. Though it did not contain any cash, it did have my credit cards, my Bank Hapoalim card, my Medicare card and other information that I use. I immediately stopped my credit cards. My Israeli credit card would be sent in a new format and number to the local branch of my bank here in Jerusalem. My American credit card would be replaced and sent to my daughter's home in the New York area. As far as the other cards were concerned, I would have to replace them myself. It is not the expense that is involved in doing so that is so troubling, but, rather, it is the wear and tear on one's nerves in dealing with the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, I steeled myself for the ordeal, and began the process of trying to put my financial and commercial life back in order.
The next day, on a whim, a friend of mine who was aware of my loss took my information and called El Al Israel Airlines to see if perhaps the wallet had been lost on the plane, and not, as I presumed, at the security line checkout. Sure enough, El Al had the wallet, much to my delight. I spent the better part of a day going back to Ben Gurion Airport in order to retrieve the wallet from the Lost and Found booth in the airport, and after a few hours and some expenditure of time and money, I had the wallet back in my possession. All the cards were in the wallet, and nothing was missing. Since I had hastily canceled the credit and bank cards, these original cards were useless to me now, and I had to wait for the new ones to arrive in order to really be back to my usual state of affairs.
After a few days, my card was supposed to arrive at my bank branch here in Jerusalem. However, during these few days, the municipality of Jerusalem decided to tear up the entire main street on which the bank is located. So, to a great extent, the bank was almost unapproachable. Nevertheless, through the help of good friends of mine, I did arrive at the bank, and they did indeed have my new banking card and credit card available. However, the code number, which is necessary in order to use those cards, had not yet arrived. So, though I had a credit card, and banking card, both were ineffective because I did not have the code yet. I was gleefully informed that the codes would be available at the bank a few days later, and I should just return to the bank to activate the cards then.
Meanwhile, my daughter in America did receive my new American credit card and activated it, but since the card was not with me, I could not really use it yet. I took down the information that my daughter communicated to me, and I felt that in an emergency this would suffice for me to be able to use the card if I had to. Eventually, I received the codes for the Israeli card, and the actual American credit card was physically back in my trusted old wallet. I was really no worse for wear for the experience, though if I had my choice, I certainly would have preferred not to have undergone the stress involved in losing and replacing what I thought had been lost.
I thought to myself that this is a metaphor for losses in life that cannot be replaced. This refers to people and loved ones who are no longer here. It refers to situations and opportunities that once were present but do not reappear. It refers to the fact that many times in life we lose or abandon something, and do not, at the time, realize its importance, or do not even realize that we have lost it, until it is far too late. By then, we find it difficult if not well-nigh impossible to replace it. Because of this, I'm convinced that one should conserve and treasure the good things and the good people that are part of one's life and existence.
The Torah has an entire section, and the Bible and Talmud contain a full chapter regarding the finding and the restoration of lost articles to their original legitimate owners. The Torah is not in favor of the idea of, “finders keepers, losers weepers”. And that is an important concept to keep in mind in life itself, for we are always losing and displacing valuable ideas, and ignoring situations that we really should not allow to pass unnoticed and unexploited. So, there is benefit, moral as well as physical, in losing one's wallet and having it restored once again to its rightful owner. It becomes a metaphor for life and an idea that should remain with us constantly, serving as a guiding principle in how we view the important things that truly matter in our life.
Shabbat Shalom.
Berel Wein

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