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Kupat Ha'ir – The Tzedakah of the Gedolei Hador Kupat Ha'ir is the largest volunteer based charity fund supported by Jews worldwide. Kupat Ha'ir is the lifeline for thousands of needy. With offices in Israel, the U.S., Canada and throughout Europe.
Main  >  I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation  >  I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation

I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation

Stealing Takes Brains, Too

Stealing Takes Brains, Too
But what can you do if the wronged party contributes to Kupat Ha›ir?
Tisha B›Av afternoon. Moishy left his house to daven minchah in the famous Beis Yaakov shtiebel in the Beis Yisrael neighborhood, velvet tefillin bag under his arm. He›d been donning tefillin for half a year now and he loved them dearly. At Shacharis that morning, he›d sorely felt their lack. Every time he donned his tefillin, he felt a spark of the same strong excitement he›d experienced the very first time. In fact, he grew more attached to his tefillin with each passing day.
The fast was proving quite difficult for him. He›d fasted on Yom Kippur, half a year ago, but this was his first Tisha B›Av fast. The heat was unbearable. His head ached. He glanced at the clock: there were still a few hours to go. He wasn›t sure how he›d make it.

When minchah was over, Moishy found a quiet corner and sat down to wait for ma›ariv. He›d heard that in some shtieblach, drinks and slices of cake were distributed at the end of a fast day. What a wonderful idea! He could certainly use something like that now.
When he finally dragged himself home, tired, hungry, thirsty and dizzy, he left his precious tefillin behind, on the table next to which he›d sat down to rest. He wasn›t accustomed to taking his tefillin home with him after ma›ariv.
Much later, when he realized what he›d done, he ran, in a panic, directly to the shtiebel. To his dismay, he discovered that the tefillin were gone. He checked all the cubbies, all the benches, all the tables. He checked the adjoining rooms. He left no stone unturned. No tefillin.
He was afraid to go home. How pained Abba would be; how aggravated Ima would feel. And their feelings would only be mirroring his own… he couldn›t bear the disappointment.
At home, no one reprimanded him. He›d received enough of a punishment for his carelessness. On the contrary, his parents commiserated with him and attempted to console him with the thought that perhaps an honest person had taken the tefillin bag for fear it would be stolen, and a hashavas aveida note would surely be posted at the entrance to the beis knesses the following morning.
The following morning, Moishy went to shul to find the notice. But there was none! He checked very carefully, reading everything on the bulletin board and every flyer in the vicinity. There was nothing at all about tefillin.
Moishy›s father borrowed a pair of tefillin for him, and Moishy donned them with a sigh of anguish. Maybe the honest man who had found the tefillin was still sleeping… who knew? Maybe the note would be posted closer to noon.
Bein hazemanim had lost its appeal for Moishy. His friends discussed their plans for the next few days with great excitement, but Moishy felt like a mourner among a group of ba›alei simchah.
The «honest finder» must have slept until evening, because there was still no note by then. The faint hope that the «honest finder» had been at work all day and would write and post the note in the evening was dashed the following morning. Moishy told his story to everyone he met, hoping someone would know something that might help. Zero. The tefillin had disappeared.
Moishys family resumed life as usual while his friends went ahead with their plans. Only Moishy couldn›t stop mourning the loss of his precious tefillin.
Two days passed, then five, then seven. An entire week! Moshy›s chances of retrieving his tefillin were growing slimmer with each passing day. He›d scrutinized the hashavas aveidah classifieds in every chareidi newspaper and called those tefillin institutes that run lost-›n›-founds especially for tefillin. He›d contacted the police, Egged and even the municipality. Everyone he spoke to assured him that if anything turned up they›d call immediately. But while the phone kept ringing, the callers were his sister›s friends, strangers with a wrong number, or his own friends calling to inquire if thee was any news.
At his wits› end, Moishy finally promised to contribute to Kupat Ha›ir if and when he received his tefillin back. His father, who related this story to a gabbai from Kupat Ha›ir, adds the following:
«He didn›t ask our permission first. When we asked him why he had made such a commitment without checking with us, he explained, ‹I don›t have any money of my own. But I realized that if we wouldn›t find my tefillin, it would cost at least a thousand dollars, so a hundred and eight shekels was definitely a ‹bargain.›»
That day, as in a typical Kupat Ha›ir story, Moishy›s friend was walking down the street when a tiny, barely-legible notice «happened» to catch his eye. The notice was about second-hand tefillin.
He mentioned the notice to Moishy, whose eyes lit up with interest. He had promised a contribution to Kupat Ha›ir, after all, so it made perfect sense that something was finally happening. There had to be a connection.
«Come on, no one would be foolish enough to steal a pair of tefillin and then offer them up for sale in the same neighborhood,» his friend said, trying to cool Moishy›s excitement.
Moishy hesitated. On the one hand, he had such a strong feeling that there was a connection. On the other, he didn›t want to bother his father to investigate what there was more than a good chance would turn out to be completely unrelated to his tefillin. He asked his older brother to accompany him and together they went to the address specified in the notice.
As soon as Moishy laid eyes upon the tefillin, he knew they were his. «These are mine!» he cried. «I›m a hundred percent sure!» A small tumult ensued. The seller, a thirty-something bachelor, insisted the tefillin were his own.
Moishy was asked if he could provide any identifying details. «There›s a tiny beginning of a tear in the strap,» he said. «I can point to the exact spot.»
The tear was easily found. The audience tensed. Any other identifying mark?
Moishy stated that there was a certain spot in the tefillin box where the design was slightly rubbed out. This, too, was verified and Moishy was proven correct.
Moishy glowed like the afternoon sun when he finally received his tefillin back. Some of the people who had watched the scene unfold tried to question the reticent seller.
«I took them because I saw them just sitting there,» he said finally, his manner of speech testifying to less-than-average intelligence. «I had them at home for a while and then I just had enough of seeing them the whole time. I figured I might as well sell them, so I wrote a note and stuck it to a tree.»
That morning, Moishy decided to promise a hundred and eighty shekels to Kupat Ha›ir if and when his tefillin were found. That day at noon, after having kept the tefillin in his house for a full week, the thief, of limited mental capacity, decided it was time to get them out of his house. He wrote a tiny, barely legible note and posted it on a tree not far from the beis knesses where he had found the tefillin, not even thinking for a moment to take any basic precautions.
That afternoon, Moishy›s good friend happened to walk down the street and spot the freshly posted note. He read it and made the possible connection…
That evening, Moishy and his brother went directly to the thief and without much difficulty at all, procured Moishy›s precious tefillin back again
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