Lost and Found


As we know, in contrast to the old adage, “Finders, keepers, losers, weepers,” Jewish law places a premium on returning lost items – the underlying implication being that “lost” means it doesn’t belong to you. However, as human nature enters into the picture, we come to realize that there is a category of lost items that actually do belong to you. These are the ones, that you, yourself have “misplaced or lost,” whether purposefully or because you lack the wherewithal to remember where you put things, like your glasses. (I once found mine perched on the top of my head.)

Interestingly, it is possible to “lose” a variety of things – including money, time, and candy – right in front of your nose (which is where you should have left your glasses). Here, for example, is how you can “lose” money only to eventually find it in your bank account right where you left it.

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, was an avid shopper. One of her shopping strategies included keeping careful track of her purchases in her checkbook ledger. (We won’t talk about how long ago this was.) However, in order to ensure that she always had extra money in case a shopping emergency arose, she would subtract more than the actual price of the purchase. For example, if she had a balance of $600 and made a $50 purchase, she would subtract $100. At the end of the month she always had a “surprise” of a few hundred dollars that she would eagerly take advantage of, thus raising her spirits and those of the retail establishments she frequented.

The only one left in a somber and somewhat confused state was her husband who, among other things, was the “balancer of the checkbook.” He couldn’t understand how, all month long, there was a surplus that couldn’t be accounted for, followed by a draining of the account during the last nanosecond of each month. After finally identifying the source of this phenomenon, the husband made the absurd claim that if she just subtracted the correct amount after each purchase, not only would it lead to the same surplus, but she would actually know exactly how much was in the account at any given moment (as if that has anything to do with it). No amount of explanation could convince her of his position. Needless to say, balancing the checkbook became her job. Let the good times roll!

Time, contrary to popular belief, is even easier to hide. It happens with the simple push of a button. If you simply add a few extra minutes to the so-called “correct” time when you set your clock, you have just hidden away extra sleeping time right in front of your eyes. Although this results in “finding” a few extra minutes of sleep every morning, it does require you to engage in the mathematical operation of subtraction. Each time you wake up in the middle of the night and “subtract,” you get a little jolt of pleasure when you realize you have more time to sleep than the rest of the world, which is not privy to this trick. One potential pitfall of this lapse in reality is the amount of time you choose to add. Let’s say you added seven minutes. Picture waking up in the middle of the night and seeing 4:03 glaring at you in red. Try subtracting seven. Quick, go ahead. See, by the time your sleep-addled brain has completed the process, an additional minute has passed, requiring you to start all over again. This is not to mention that all this higher level processing has left you so wide awake that you can’t fall back asleep. My advice is to stay away from adding amounts like seven and just stick to five or ten minutes.

The third and final frontier in these wonderful games of self-delusion revolves around candy (this is code for chocolate, cookies, or any other personal culinary vice). “Losing” candy only to find it later is a talent that requires constant refinement. Assuming that you and your spouse have established that candy is marital property, you need only to concern yourself with the younger generation in the household. It is therefore imperative that, as your children grow taller, you find more elusive hiding places. Often, the lower shelves of a cabinet will suffice, but it is advised that you change the location on a regular basis. The dilemma, of course, is your ability to remember where you hid the candy in the first place. This can present a problem when the time it takes for you to relocate your stash exceeds the expiration date on the item. Generally speaking, the turn-around time for candy is short enough that it doesn’t tax one’s short-term memory. On the off chance that you do find candy much later than originally intended (because you forgot about it) or, even better, your spouse hid it and you found it, feel free to enjoy it. Of course, the latter discovery should first be cleared with the proper authorities before consuming any of your newly-found contraband.

You see, it’s important not just to take opportunities when they come along but also to create opportunities. Since the opportunity to return a lost object doesn’t come along very often, you need to make it happen. So go out and lose something; you never know when it might find its way right back to you!


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