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The Lost and Found of Torah

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 23, 2007


Parashat Ki Teitzei – Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19 Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1 – 54:10

Focal Point: Devarim 22:1-3

1 If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your fellow. 2 If your fellow does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your fellow claims it; then you shall give it back to him. 3 You shall do the same with his ass; you shall do the same with his garment; and so too shall you do with anything that your fellow loses and you find: you must not remain indifferent.

My friend Yael commented on another Blog Entry:

 

“But, the ones who lose what was always a part of their identity sometimes have a pretty rough time moving on with life. I wouldn’t be bragging about doing that to anyone.[…]In my interactions with people I always try to encourage Christians to live by the teachings of Jesus the best they can; if they are Jewish to live by the teachings of Torah as best they can; whatever religion they are, use it to be a truly good person.”

If we connect those two statements it becomes clear that Faith is something you can lose. What to do if you find a fellow’s lost Faith by the way-side? You keep it for him until he can come and claim it, and then you give it back to him!

Ok, I admit, I am stretching the text here, but I still think the thought has merits 🙂 After all, we can ask forgiveness on account of those who cannot, will not or do not know that forgiveness is possible – we do it every year on Yom Kippur, so why not hold on to my fellow human’s lost Faith? After all it’s something he lost, he probably misses it, and even if he doesn’t miss it, doesn’t know he needs it or doesn’t want it, what’s the harm? Will it cost me anything to hold his lost faith in trust until he can claim it for himself? No. On the contrary, it will help me grow a person?

So how do I return someone’s lost Faith to them? One thing’s for certain, unless they are actively looking for it, there’s no way it will be fruitful to try and dump it on them like a sack of potatoes, that’s just mean, pushy and arrogant.

Faith’s little Sister is Hope. Hope incites Faith.

What is hope? “…the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible…”

Most of the time hope is kindled by the simple act of being present for someone who is in any kind of need. By simply being human, compassionate, honest and attentive towards another I can show that the out-look of life is not at all that bleak.

I cannot be sure that this will succeed, but for the sake of the commandment to return anything lost back to the one who lost it, I have to try. Like I stand with The People on Yom Kippur and ask forgiveness on account of those who cannot do it for themselves, so I can hold Faith in trust for those who cannot do it for themselves. We have a Tradition that teaches us that Mitzvot can be performed in honor of others. So why not hold Faith, perform Mitzvot for the sake of those who cannot do it for themselves, whatever the reason.

So when you get up in the morning, instead of berating those you think are lax in their Observance, put on your Tallit and Tefillin for the sake of those who cannot, put an extra coin in your Tzedakah box, do an extra run through the Weekly Parasha when you study and Hold Faith for them who have lost it, until they can claim it for themselves.

Shabbat Shalom!

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8 Responses to “The Lost and Found of Torah”

  1. Yael said

    What an interesting take on this parashah, that it’s not just about lost physical possessions. Lost faith, lost dreams, lost hope. What a compassionate way to live life, holding these safe for people who may one day decide they want them back. Much better response than throwing them out and then trying to replace them with your own, or as you pointed out, trying to force them back on the person when the person doesn’t want them yet or perhaps ever.

    Thanks for sharing, Dov.

    Like

  2. […] And from Trekking the Torah Lost and Found. […]

    Like

  3. yaelbatsarah said

    I moved my blog to wordpress, maybe. We’ll see if I like it here or not. Anyway, you can now comment on it at least.

    Yael

    Like

  4. “I moved my blog to wordpress, maybe. We’ll see if I like it here or not. Anyway, you can now comment on it at least.”

    I could – if I knew where it is – *lol*

    Like

  5. yaelbatsarah said

    Well, what do I know? I thought my name would take you there! Same blog different place

    Like

  6. The thought [of Faith as a Lost thing that have to be returned] hadn’t entered my mind until I realized that it was time to write on this week’s Torah portion and I glanced over the Text. The two thoughts just connected and well it went from there almost by itself…*loudlaff*

    Two of the main themes in Torah are Justice and Compassion. This can be connected to the question Kayin asks of G-d after he has murdered his brother Hevel (Bereshit/Genesis 4) “Am I my Brother’s keeper?”, and the answer is “Yes, you are.” Where my fellow is in need I am obligated to step in and do what I can.

    I laughed out loud when I pictured the Lost Faith by the way-side, because at first glance the image seemed impossible. What would a Lost faith look like? Would a Lost Faith just be laying around? Or would it be hobbling after it’s owner, eventually giving up the chase in exhaustion?

    Whichever it is, when I see it, it is my duty to pick it up and keep it until my fellow claims it, because I am my brother’s keeper.

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  7. yaelbatsarah said

    Hobbling along sounds about right.

    Maybe I’m too late to catch you today, but hope you have/had a Good Shabbas. (in case you don’t read this until after)

    Like

  8. […] of my attention, a tenth of all my resources, a tenth of that which is not material, just like Parasha Ki Teitzei commands me to return anything lost to its proper owner, including a Lost Faith. We so often think […]

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