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I Lost A $10,000 Check

Thursday, 14 March, 2013 - 10:20 am

467_519414391435168_428434971_n.jpgA couple of weeks ago I wrote a $2,000 check to pay a bill we owed to a friend of mine. A few days later this friend called, and apologetically asked me to cancel the old check and write a new one, since he had lost it. Of course, I agreed, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “How do you lose a check? Who does that? Is it so difficult to keep it in a safe place until you can deposit it?” But I kept my mouth shut, cancelled the check and wrote him a new one. 

Two weeks later I received a check for $10,000 from a different friend. He gave it to me when I was in Brooklyn, and the following morning when I was ready to take it to the bank I discovered it was missing. I searched high and low. I scoured my house, my car, my office—even my children’s toy box! Finally, I had to concede it was truly lost. I called my friend and asked him to cancel that check and write me a new one. But interestingly, the thoughts going through my mind in this instance were vastly different from the thoughts I had when it was my check that was lost. Instead of thinking, “How could you lose a check?!” I was telling myself, “Hey, these things happen. It was an innocent mistake. It’s not such a big deal. All the guy needs to do is write a new one…” 

A couple of days later I received a phone call from a stranger. She’d found my check on the ground outside one of the stores I’d visited in Brooklyn. 

I contrasted these two events in my mind. The check I lost was for five times(!) the amount of the check my friend lost, so how was I able to completely absolve myself of responsibility while feeling disgruntled towards him? 

By nature, we love ourselves dearly, despite our flaws. We all have faults, we all have flaws. But somehow, those very same flaws that bother us in others are so easy to gloss over when it comes to ourselves. 

When someone else double parks, you bet we’re quick to judge. How inconsiderate! But when we double park, what’s the big deal? It’s just for a minute… I just had to pick something up and there was nowhere else to park! 

When someone else’s kid is throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, we’re quick to judge. What kind of parent lets their kid do that in public?? But when our kid loses it, we tell ourselves, hey – kids will be kids. 

“Love your fellow as you love yourself,” the Torah instructs us. Practically, what does that mean? It means that the same way we are quick to excuse our own shortcomings (like losing the check), we should be quick to excuse faults in others. Instead of judging those who struggle with anger, mood swings, inflated egos, or grumpiness, we need to view them the same way we would view those shortcomings in ourselves. We love ourselves despite our flaws; we need to love others the same way. 

We are currently in the month of Nissan, the time when the Israelites left Egypt over 3,000 years ago and became the Jewish nation. We are told, “B’nissan nigalu, uv’nissan atidin l’higael,” – “In Nissan we were redeemed and in Nissan we will be redeemed again in the future.” We are still awaiting that future redemption… Perhaps by focusing on our love for each other, despite our shortcomings, we can hasten the coming of Moshiach and that final redemption. 

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