I give tzedakah very frequently, and I pray very often. This excessive davening followed up by charitable donations is self-serving. I do both in order to locate items I’ve misplaced — and I misplace things all the time! Usually the prayer (Amar Rabbi Binyamin…) and the tzedakah (l’ilui nishmas R’ Meir Baal Haness) do the trick and I find the lost item. But not always; some things have never reappeared. And as I age the problem gets worse.
The list of things I routinely lose is a long one. At least once a week I can’t find my cellphone. If I happen to be at home, this doesn’t pose a major problem since I use my landline phone to call the cell and then listen for its musical ring. More problematic is when I can’t find the receiver to the landline phone. And sometimes the remote control to the television disappears. It is usually buried between the cushions of the couch. On a few occasions my car keys have gone missing. And when my eyeglasses have gotten lost, it’s hard to find them because I need to be wearing my glasses in order to find my glasses.
My favorite gloves were a beautiful shade of plum and I wore them often. Then, suddenly, they were gone and no amount of davening or giving tzedakah helped me find them. It has been a year since that happened and I still miss them. But I haven’t given up. Sometimes I find myself looking in the same places I have already checked repeatedly. I recheck handbags and coat pockets in the hope that they will miraculously reappear.
Once in a while, a shopping list that I took pains to write goes AWOL. When that happens, I rewrite the list and hope I don’t leave out anything of importance. And twice this year I lost an earring. Oddly, I never lose both, only one. Now and then, despite the fact that all of my scarves hang in the front hall closet, there are times when I can’t find the one I want to wear.
The list is endless, as there is very little that I don’t misplace. When the house scissors go missing, I occasionally wonder if they are hiding out with the opener. Sometimes these things are in plain sight but more often they are not, as I have a penchant for putting things in the wrong drawer.
Unbeknownst to me, just last week, the clasp on the bracelet I was wearing wasn’t properly secured. Apparently, it opened up and the bracelet fell off. I was unaware of this until hours later when I came home. I went to remove it and discovered that my wrist was bare. The bracelet was gone. Not surprisingly, I had no idea where I was when it fell off, but, on the outside chance that I might get lucky and find it, I uttered my favorite prayer and put aside money for charity. The next day I spotted the bracelet on the floor of my car directly in front of the passenger seat. How it got over to that side of the car, I have no idea.
The items that elude me are not always small. Two umbrellas have disappeared in the past few months and I have no idea where I left either one.
There are times when I miss something that I have not actually lost. That happens when I give the item away. I have given away handbags that I no longer want as well as items of clothing that I haven’t worn in a long time. And it never fails that, not long after I give something away, I want it. What is with that? Most of the time I give these things to a charity, but occasionally I give something to the girl who cleans my house. On a recent morning, she came in carrying a handbag I had given her several months ago. Suddenly, it looked great and I wished I had kept it. But a gift is a gift! This does not qualify as a misplaced item, since I know exactly where it is. So there was no point invoking the prayer or giving charity. The bag now belongs to someone else.
When something has not been given away but is legitimately lost, in addition to saying that prayer and giving tzedakah, you should actually look for the item! (Part of the prayer’s text reads: “All are presumed blind until the Holy One, blessed be He, enlightens their eyes.”) That’s the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435