First, my apologies that no Random Musing went out last week. I'm in the midst of switching computers and wasn't able to connect.
The musing I wrote in 1997 for parasha Ki Tetze has always been one of my favorites, and it has become somewhat of a tradition to share it with you each year at this time.
A reminder for context, that previously I worked as the production and venue manager for a performing arts facility, during the time when this musing was first written. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
There it sits. Each day, at some point, I open the pencil drawer in my desk at work, and laying among the hundreds of other miscellaneous items, it shines and stares at me. That gold ladies watch. It's been a month, I say. Six months. A year. Two years. Why not finally take it home.
I tried all the usual means to locate the owner, who lost it at a symphony concert in my venue almost two years ago. The usher who first found it and brought it to me in my office thought this find was important enough to bring to my attention right away. "It's a gold watch, after all." I asked "Have you ever not brought something you found to my attention right away?" "Oh yes" she said. "We find little unimportant things all the time. We just put them in our pockets and then leave them in the lost and found box." "So no one knows you put them there, except you?" I asked.
Never wasting a teachable moment, I hastened to tell the well meaning usher that we should treat every lost object as if it were priceless to its owner - whether it's a cracker-jack box ring, an umbrella, or a gold watch. And I've been teaching that to all the staff ever since.
But I digress. I called the symphony office, tried to find out who was sitting in seats in the area the watch was found. We called all those we could identify and none of them had lost it. We kept this up for several weeks. No one called to claim it. At other symphony concerts over the years I have asked people if they knew who might own this watch. We opened the watch and checked for serial numbers, engravings, etc. Still no luck.
And now it is two years later. All last week, I kept saying to myself, "Adrian, it's time. Just take it home, or donate it to a charity that could resell it (or use it.)"
Each day, I had the same conversation. Shabbat Shofetim came and went. Then it was time to read Ki Tetze. And there it was, 22:1-4. I had done the right thing. And I should keep doing it.
My life continue to be a series of the little epiphanies. It's a joy.
Well, wouldn't it be nice if I could say that this story has a perfect ending - and the owner of the watch finally was found and I returned it. No such luck.
I think it is finally time to take the watch to some charity that can use it. The watch has already served its purpose sitting in my drawer - that constant reminder to me of the ethic by which I, as a Jew, must live. And a reminder to teach those ethics to those who work with me. It's as though that little watch was a verse of Torah come to life. Now it's time to let it bring its magic to others. I only hope that it was to its original owner of as great a value as it has been to me, and will now be to others.
My your drawers contain that little piece of Torah as well.
©1997 by Adrian A. Durlester
© 2000 by Adrian A. Durlester
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