When my neighbor asked me if I was missing any jewelry, I immediately thought of the gift my husband gave me 25 years ago at our wedding. In the yichud room, he presented me with a beautiful three-tone gold bracelet with diamond chips. I treasured that gift until I lost it.
For many years, I searched for that bracelet until I finally gave up. I accepted the loss, yet in the back of my mind, I always had faith that the bracelet would turn up.
My neighbor went on to explain how her children had shown her a bracelet. They were playing in her storage room with some boxes and found the jewelry. My neighbor, who does not know the difference between real and costume jewelry, gave the assumed fake bracelet to a single 33-year-old woman who cleans the neighborhood kindergarten. The woman lives with her parents in a low socio-economic neighborhood in Israel.
The young woman was thrilled to receive such lovely costume jewelry, and immediately became attached to the gift. One day, her grandfather noticed the bracelet and asked her how she came upon such an expensive piece of jewelry. When she explained that this was a gift from the mother of a kindergarten student and that the bracelet was surely not genuine, the grandfather insisted that they check with a jeweler. Sure enough, the jeweler ascertained that the bracelet was authentic and expensive. The family insisted that the young woman return the gift. The young woman found it very difficult to do so and called my neighbor.
My neighbor started to think about where she had found the bracelet and whose it could be. She then remembered those boxes in her storage room. Years ago, while cleaning my house for Passover, I came across some empty, multi-colored boxes and offered them to my neighbor as toys for her children. She took them off my hands, and I was happy to part with the clutter. The bracelet was in one of those boxes.
Needless to say, when my neighbor described the bracelet, I was overwhelmed that my treasure had been found. My neighbor called the young woman and explained that the bracelet was mine and how it had been lost. So returning the bracelet was a mitzvah. The young woman spoke to her rabbi, who told her that she must return it. Yet she was not prepared to do so. She had become so attached to the gift that she felt it was her own, and, based on the fact that I had given up searching for it, she felt that I had accepted the reality that my bracelet was gone.
I finally called this young woman and explained that the gift had come from my groom on our wedding day. She sympathized, yet went on to say that she was an older single woman who did not know when or if she would ever receive a piece of jewelry from a groom. Despite her hesitations, she finally sadly returned my bracelet.
I blessed her that one day soon, she would meet her husband in the merit of the mitzvah of returning a lost item, a mitzvah that had been especially difficult for her to do.
Last week, I received a phone call from this young woman. She had just gotten engaged to a fine young man. Her gift from her future groom was a gold bracelet.
She now had her own treasure to keep.