Parashat Ki Tetze

To Return Home Wealthy

Tell me, when was the last time you felt that you are a treasure, that you are a precious Jew and beloved and likeable and pleasant?  When was the last time you felt that you are important, that you are like the only son of a loving and great king who looks at you twenty four hours a day with deep wonderment from all of your movements and is just waiting to hear what’s in your mouth?lost anf found

Harav Israel Asulin

Tuesday, 10th of Elul, 5775


Shalom beloved Jew, how are you?  Can we have a face to face discussion for a moment?

Tell me, when was the last time you felt that you are a treasure, that you are a precious Jew and beloved and likeable and pleasant?  When was the last time you felt that you are important, that you are like the only son of a loving and great king who looks at you twenty four hours a day with deep wonderment from all of your movements and is just waiting to hear what’s in your mouth?  When did you feel that you are full of strength and desires and hope and trust and growth and renewal, and that you are surrounded with all of the help that you need in order to realize all of your dreams?

Do you even recognize that feeling, that you are meaningful and great, that the whole world was created for you and that every thing that you go through is precious without measure?  Do you long for this love?  Do you long to feel yourself alive, and light up with desire?  Do you want to return to these treasures which have been lost?

This week’s Torah portion speaks about the matter of returning a lost object: “You shall not see the ox of your brother or his sheep or goat cast off, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return them to your brother.  If your brother is not near you and you do not know him, then gather it inside your house, and it shall remain with you until your brother inquires after it, and you return it to him.” (Devarim[1], Chapter 22, Verses 1-2)

The Torah has a commandment which is called ‘returning a lost object’- a Jew who finds the lost object of another, whether the owner is a relative or not or whether he knows him or not, he is obligated to take care of the lost object and to return it to its owner.

Rebbe Nachman, in Likutei Moharan[2], and Rebbe Natan in Likutei Halachot[3] on the laws of lost and found objects, relate to these verses and speak about lost items which are not an ox or a lamb, rather they speak about the mitzvah of returning something which was lost which is the deepest thing in the world.

Rebbe Nachman says in Likutei Moharan, Torah 188, “Before a person enters this world they teach him and show him everything he needs to do and obtain in this world.  However, when he enters this world immediately it is all forgotten from him… and forgetting is the aspect of losing something, just as the Sages of blessed memory called a person who forgets ‘one who has lost something’… and a person needs to go back and request what he has lost.”

Every Jew is a treasure.  We were born like a walking diamond exchange.  However, very quickly we find ourselves like paupers- in the good case, and like beggars in the worst case.

Where are all the diamonds?  They got lost.

What do we do in this case?  In truth, nothing.

Imagine that you lost a million dollars.  Are you able to imagine something like this?  A brown envelope stuffed with cash which contains all of your wealth in this world.  You still have not managed to use it to realize your dreams and it gets lost.  Maybe it was thrown by mistake into the garbage or maybe it was stolen by some brazen guy with no heart.

Tell me, what would you do?  Or first of all tell me, what would you not do?

You would not go to a new restaurant that opened near your house.  You would not go to sleep or listen to music or see movies or buy two at the price of one… you would call the whole country to your aid, including the minister of transportation and the minister of trade and even the prime minister.  You lost a million dollars!!  It’s not funny!!  It’s a lot of money and it’s all you have!!  You can’t forego this treasure!  Please save me!!!  A million dollars!!!

Look at us, we’ve lost much more than a million dollars, great treasures, diamonds which have no replacement; we have lost ourselves.  We have lost everything we were born to be.  We have lost faith in ourselves and how much we are worth.  We have lost our will to be ourselves and not somebody else.  We have lost love, happiness, courage, hope and our hearts.

We continue to live as if everything is normal.  We go to work, come home from work.  We eat, buy, cook the tastiest food, hear music, and get annoyed with the neighbors or with our spouse or with our children.  We speak on the phone.  Perhaps we learn Torah and fulfill the mitzvahs.  We go to sleep, wake up in the morning, force a smile and drag ourselves out the door.

How do we not stop everything and scream to the whole world to help us in our search?  How are we so indifferent and disconnected?  We lost a million dollars, and another million, and tens of thousands of more millions!!  There is no replacement copy.  We have to find what we lost- or we will perish!

We lost treasures and we don’t even know it.  We are sleeping a deep sleep of concealment inside of concealment, while our treasures are so far away.

However, actually, even if we will wake up to remove the concealment and realize all we have lost, where will we turn to and how do we search for such an abstract treasure?  Who do we call and what do we say?  ‘Hello, is the lost and found department?  I lost my will which is the color blue with blue hoops that are worth gold, maybe by chance you have it?… I lost my joy with a smile which comes from my heart and reaches the eyes of the person who is opposite me… I lost trust, I lost faith, I lost innocence and hope and closeness… do you hear me there?  I lost love, I don’t know how she looks because it’s been a long time, when I was still small, and maybe by chance she has a name tag?’

That’s it.  It is not as complicated as we imagine.  There is a simple and amazing address!

“His lost item is with the Tsaddik, because the Tsaddik searches for his lost object until he finds it, and after he finds it, he searches and seeks for the lost items of others until he finds them, until he finds all of the lost objects of the world.  Therefore, a person needs to go to the Tsaddik and request and recognize his lost item, and to receive it from him…” (Likutei Moharan, Torah 188)

Rebbe Nachman reveals to us that there is such a thing, returning lost spiritual treasures.  There is a department like this.  There is a Tsaddik like this, a Tsaddik who is the foundation of the world whose main activity is bringing the souls of the Jewish people closer to their father in Heaven.  A Tsaddik who finds for us all of the lost treasures and guards them for us.  “He wants to at every moment return all of them to their owners immediately.  However, as long as they are far from him, he is forced to keep them by him…” (Likutei Halachot, Lost and Found items, 3rd halacha)

All you need is to wake up and realize what you have lost, travel to Rebbe Nachman, to the lost and found department, to ask the Tsaddik to give you instructions to find the treasure and to return home wealthy.

There is such a thing.  Ask someone who knows about it.

[1] Deuteronomy

[2] The main collection of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings

[3] Rebbe Natan’s explanations of Jewish law, based upon the teachings of Rebbe Nachman

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