It was mid-morning when I got the call from Mindy, asking me for the telephone number of our mutual friend, Devora Pepper. Mindy hurriedly explained that she was walking her houseguest to the bus stop when she noticed a wallet lying on the outdoor steps leading down to the street. Thinking quickly, Mindy remembered that Devora was hosting a clothing sale in her apartment in a nearby building that morning. It seemed logical that someone heading for the sale might have dropped her wallet, perhaps while going up the steps with a stroller. If she called Devora immediately, she might catch the woman—if this was what had actually happened—before she was even ready to pay for items she may have selected, sparing her the aggravation of the loss.
I looked up the number for Mindy, though her theory seemed a bit far-fetched to me, and lo and behold, it was exactly as she had thought! The woman at the sale hadn’t even noticed yet that her wallet was missing. She was full of thanks, and asked Mindy to wait there another minute or two until she could come down to meet her and get the wallet.
During those few minutes an elderly woman appeared, struggling with a weighty shopping wagon. Wanting to help, Mindy asked the woman, who seemed rather weak and shaky, where she was headed. When she mentioned an address several blocks away, Mindy begged her to wait a few minutes until the wallet would be picked up, so she could walk the woman home.
Minutes later, with the wallet safely back in the thankful owner’s stroller bag, Mindy accompanied the elderly woman to her building. She pulled the wagon up to the second floor and then, noticing the woman’s pale face, decided to forego her plans for the morning, and instead stay on for a while to make sure the woman was all right.
After an hour of light conversation accompanied by hot tea—prepared by Mindy, of course—Mindy felt it was time to leave. She reached for her wallet; but it was nowhere to be found. How odd! She was sure she had put it down on the table. Where could it be? When she didn’t see it anywhere in the house, Mindy walked outside to check the sidewalk nearby. Just then, her cell phone sang out from her coat pocket. “Is this Mrs. Konig? Did you maybe lose a wallet?” the caller asked.
Long story short, it seems that the wallet had fallen from her pocket at some point when she was assisting the elderly woman on her way, and she hadn’t even noticed. A bachur saw a wallet on the sidewalk, picked it up, but found no identification inside except a Health Fund card with a name and ID number. He wasn’t lazy; he took the wallet and the card to the nearby clinic and asked if they could look up the name and give him the telephone number of the owner. Naturally, all this took a bit of time; if Mindy had walked the woman to her building and left again, she would probably have discovered the wallet’s disappearance earlier and would have had plenty of time to agonize over her loss…But that’s not all. “How can I get it back to you?” the young man asked. “Where are you located?”
“Well, right now, I’m next to building 61…”
“Oh, perfect! I’m in the Yeshiva across the street. See me?” he waved to Mindy from a few meters away, holding up the wallet. With no effort at all, and with virtually no angst, the wallet was back in her possession.
Mindy cared enough to locate the loser of the first wallet—and the boy cared enough to pick up Mindy’s and return it, in spite of the effort involved. Mindy tried to spare the owner aggravation—and Hashem spared her the same aggravation. So the next time you wonder whether to go the extra mile for a chessed, or to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, remember: “Hashem tzilcha” –Hashem is your shadow—as we behave towards others, He will ‘behave’ towards us.
Not that we always see it so vividly in our daily life. That’s why Mindy was pretty amazed at her surreal experience. But it’s the truth.