A Visit to the Lost and Found Department
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…
Harav Israel Asulin
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
Monday, 9th of Elul, 5776
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 all of your movements twenty four hours a day with deep wonderment, 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 everything 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, Chapter 22, Verses 1-2) 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.
However, this mitzvah also has another dimension, which speaks of a lost object which is not an ox or a lamb, and it refers to returning something which was lost which is the deepest thing in the world: “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.” (Likutei Moharan, Torah 188)
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 the new restaurant which 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 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!!!
And 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!
However, actually, even if we will wake up to this search, where will we turn to and how do we search for such abstract treasures? Who do we call and what do we say? ‘Hello, is this 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… Therefore, a person needs to go to the Tsaddik and request and recognize his lost item, and to receive it from him…” (ibid)
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, until we’ll come to request them.
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.