Beis Moshiach/D. Chaim
“Hefker! Whoever wants can come on Tuesday to the shul yard and take what you like from the big box that will be there.”
That is what was written in big letters on a flyer hung by the gabbaim on the announcement board. When I was leaving the shul after Havdala on Motzaei Shabbos, I did not even notice it. I just saw a black and white mass of children crowding around the board. I was curious to see what it said and after some effort I managed to read it.
I wonder what will be in the box, I thought. The next day when the bell rang for the first recess, I asked my friend Shmulik to stay in class for a few minutes. I told him about the sign and he immediately was excited about it.
“I know, it’s probably all kinds of treasures from Sholom, the old gabbai’s house. I always knew he kept treasures and old, valuable things in his house. That’s it; I guess he decided to get rid of them.”
It sounded convincing to me.
“You know what,” I said, “On Tuesday, let us get to school early and we will be the first and we can take what we want from the box.”
“Okay,” said Shmulik quickly and he ran off to the playground as I hurried behind him.
The days passed slowly. Sunday dragged by and the next day crawled along. My thoughts constantly revolved around the box and its mysterious contents. Monday night I dreamed that I woke up later than usual and had to hurry and when I got to school, which is above the shul, I was disappointed to see that the box had already been emptied. I stood sadly near it, refusing to be consoled, until the bell rang and I had to go up to class and … wake up.
I looked at the clock in a fright and was relieved to see that it was early. I got ready quickly and left for school. On the way, near Nachum’s grocery store, I met Shmulik and then we walked together. When we reached a point where we could see the shul, I noticed something suspicious. I was sure that nobody would be around at that hour but there was.
On the wall near the door to the shul I could see a shadow moving. “Who can it be?” I whispered to Shmulik. Shmulik wasn’t frightened, as I was. He walked quickly with me after him and with the agility of a cat he climbed a pole on the sidewalk on the other side.
“What are you doing? He can see you!” I hissed in my growing fear.
“Don’t worry, I think I know who it is,” he said.
“Who?” I asked anxiously.
“One minute, it must be Sholom the gabbai who is bringing the box outside,” I whispered with a triumphant smile. I nearly laughed out loud.
But no. As he slid down the pole, Shmulik motioned that it was not him.
Bent over we quickly made our way in the direction of the nearby yard without the person noticing us. “It’s Shai, our classmate who lives out of town,” Shmulik said, surprising me as we hid in the shadow of a leafy tree. “You can see for yourself, through the leaves.”
“I don’t believe it,” I said. “Something must have happened to his family. We must help him …”
“Why do you think so?” asked Shmulik.
“Otherwise, how do you explain that he works for the gabbai of the shul?”
“Why should he work?” asked Shmulik.
“I don’t know. Maybe someone in his family is sick or his father was fired from his job. There are many possibilities.”
“Why are you talking like that? Why bring up negative possibilities? Think positively!” said Shmulik.
“But Shmulik,” I insisted, “Shai is not the type to take an interest in these kinds of things and those are the only reasons that can explain what he is doing here at this hour.”
“You know what?” Shmulik said decisively. “The simplest thing is to ask him what he is looking for.”
We walked over and then Shmulik said in a voice that nearly gave us away, “I know! Ssshhh.”
“What do you know?” I asked him.
“I know what’s in the mysterious box. Don’t you see what Shai is holding? It’s a g’niza, old and worn out books that accumulated in the shul over the years, not treasures and not ancient artifacts. Sefarim. Old sefarim,” whispered Shmulik in disappointment.
“That just makes it more of a mystery,” I said. “Shai doesn’t like to read, so why is he interested in old books?”
When we were a few feet away, Shai noticed us.
“Why did you come so early to school today?” I asked him curiously.
“Ah, my father brings me every day by car and today he had an important business meeting so we left early. In the meantime, I noticed this box and when I bent over it to check it out, 150 shekels that I brought to pay for the annual trip fell out of my pocket. For a long time now I’ve been searching for the money and haven’t found it. Can you please help me look?”
“One minute,” I said. “I see piles of sefarim all around and it looks as though you emptied the entire box. If you still didn’t find the money I think you’d better give up. Isn’t it a waste of time now? I’m sure that if you tell our teacher what happened, he will let you go on the trip anyway.”
“What?” exclaimed Shmulik. “Shai knows for sure that the money fell into the box and so, the emptier the box, the closer he is to finding it. To give up now wouldn’t be smart at all!”
“Exactly,” agreed Shai. “It’s like our looking forward to the Geula. The Rebbe told us as a prophecy that our generation is the generation of the Geula and so there is no reason to despair. On the contrary, with every passing moment we are closer to the Geula and our expectations and bitachon in its coming should be greater.”
“You are right,” I said. “Just like the money is definitely in the box, so too, the Geula will definitely come.” How did I not realize that myself? So come, let us look together for the money and hope that before we find it, the Geula will already have come.