This week’s Torah portion contains the commandment to return a lost item to its owner. “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep lost, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return them to your brother… and so shall you do with every lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost, and you have found; you may not hide yourself” (Deuteronomy 22:1-3). Interestingly, there are two words in Hebrew that mean “to return” something. One is “l’hachazir,” and one is “l’hashiv.” Significantly, the Torah here uses the latter form — “hashev t’shivem” — “you shall surely return them.” Why does the Torah here prefer this term for returning, rather than the other? The term for returning used here is the same as in the word “teshuvah,” repentence, or “returning” to God. The Torah is teaching that not only must you return the lost physical property of someone else, but all the more so must you return his spiritual property — his soul! That is, if a person has lost their way spiritually, help them find their way. Teach them Torah! Show them the light! Invite them to experience a Shabbos meal, a Shabbaton, a Torah class or program, or even just share a 60-second Torah idea with them! But certainly, “YOU MAY NOT HIDE YOURSELF!” Don’t say, “It’s not my problem,” or, “It’s none of my business.” And of course, we must look at ourselves and see how we may have strayed from our Maker, and fulfill this command by returning to Him. And if we merit to return ourselves and others to HaShem, may He return us to Him and bring about the Final Redemption, speedily in our days.
Based on Shla”h, Parshas Ki Tetze