| Parshah |

Finders Are Keepers

Shevet Dan’s task promotes connection between man and his fellow


“The banner of Dan set out, the collector for all the camps, according to their legions. And over the legion….” (Bamidbar 10:25)

he Gemara Yerushalmi explains that Shevet Dan preformed the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah, collecting and returning lost objects as they brought up the rear. Why specifically this shevet?
(Rabbi P. G. Waxman)

My kids are professional aveidah finders. Since they want to share this mitzvah with their mother, they focus on finding the lost objects, leaving me to return them to their owners.

It’s amazing how many sundry items I have floating around my house, waiting to be returned to their rightful owners.

There was the deflated soccer ball that my son found after recess. “No, it didn’t belong to anyone in school, so I had to bring it home,” he explained.

Then there was the small pair of silver girl’s sandals that appeared neatly side by side on our lawn, which must have been left there by Serach bas Asher when she was a child, because our youngest girl was then 19.

Finally, after hosting way too much unclaimed clutter, I asked a sh’eilah and was told I could desist from searching for the owners as long as I listed these UFOs (Unidentified Found Objects) with specifics on a chart to hand to Mashiach. Will he accept a ten-page printout?

Chazal explain that each shevet had its unique flag. Shevet Dan’s emblem was a snake, based on Yaakov Avinu’s brachah to Dan.
The original nachash wanted to kill Adam in order to take Chavah, which would have created an aveidah, a loss.
In addition, the pasuk says that the snake saw Chavah and desired her with his eyes. Therefore, looking for lost items with discerning eyes rectifies this action of the snake.
Hashem punished the snake, creating great animosity from man toward him. In contrast, Shevet Dan’s task promotes connection between man and his fellow.

By far the oddest UFO was a huge bird perched on our picnic table right outside our dining room. This avian mutant turkey/quail was content to sit perfectly still for days and eye us through the glass as we attempted to eat dinner. (I can be reached via Mishpacha for a photo verifying my claim.)

This was not an item I was willing to host until Mashiach’s arrival. I sent messengers to every neighbor, hung signs in shul and begged people to contact their nearest chicken farm and inquire after a runaway.

To no avail. Finally, after overstaying his welcome for close to a week, Big Bird disappeared as mysteriously as he’d come.

Shevet Dan is considered a downtrodden shevet, as it was the first shevet not born to Leah or Rochel, the primary Imahos. It’s appropriate that this shevet, possessing a humble mindset, would be assigned such a mitzvah, as they would take the time and patience to pursue it.

Yet the most memorable find of all was the fat, black wallet that Binyamin and I stumbled on while out shopping. And it was really fat.

We flipped it open and our mouths dropped. There was enough cash to equal a mini-mortgage, several checks made out in the thousands, and an assortment of credit cards. Did the guy collect these as a hobby?

The name on the cards and checks was Moshe Cohen. Well, how hard could it be find one in the middle of Israel, right?

I found a phone number on one of the personal checks and called. Line disconnected.

Then Binyamin found another personal check from a different account with another phone number. (This guy was either a big gvir or was borrowing from Pinchas to pay Peretz.)

Lo and behold, Moshe answered! And he was located not ten feet away. We turned a corner and there was a tall, spiffily dressed guy. (Did this make him the prince or the pauper?)

Binyamin’s no shlock and he asked for simanim.  Moishe answered correctly, and we handed over the wallet.

Then tears filled Moshe’s eyes. He grabbed Binyamin in a hard hug and said, “You saved my life! My entire parnassah is in this wallet. What a tzaddik! May there be many more like you in Yisrael!”

And in true Israeli style, he heaped brachos on Binyamin’s head that should accompany him straight till 120.

We turned to go, grateful we’d been able to return a lost object, but feeling we’d found something even more precious.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 846)

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