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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Many Happy Returns

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I never thought I would see the day when “Yossie” would smile. He was not an unhappy man, but rather very serious in demeanor. He never said hello, or any words, to his customers other than those absolutely necessary.

Whenever I went to his store, I felt uncomfortable. It was as if I was invisible. I would greet him when I entered and thank him when I left, but there was never any response. In time, I realized there would never be one. Despite this personality flaw, Yossie’s business was flourishing. His prices were fair, and he was an honest man.

I had not been in his store for a couple of years. My husband was not as bothered as I was by Yossie’s rudeness, and so he was the one who generally went there. Recently, though, I reluctantly found myself there. I’m glad it worked out that way for a number of reasons. I got to see Yossie in a different light, and I also got the chance to give my sister a special surprise.

I was waiting my turn to be served when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. A woman’s lightweight jacket was hanging on a hook.

Without thinking, I called out to Yossie, “To whom does that green jacket belong?”

He turned to me and quietly responded that it had been left in his establishment about two years ago.

“It’s mine. I can’t believe it. I gave up on ever finding it!”

Yossie looked away, but not before I caught the pleased smile on his face. Who would have ever thought that he would hold onto an abandoned object for such a long time, hoping someone would one day claim it? Who would have thought this could make him smile?

The story does not end here, not without telling you of the story surrounding my missing jacket.

Over the past several years, my sister and I have found ourselves traveling back and forth from Israel to America in order to spend time with our elderly parents.

Whenever possible we chose to fly together, thereby giving each other physical, as well as emotional, support. Most of our trips revolved around our parents, but we also tried to squeeze in quick shopping trips, bringing back gifts for our children and their families.

Two years ago, during the fall season, we found ourselves packing our suitcases yet again. To my dismay, I discovered that I could not find my lightweight green jacket.

I searched everywhere, but concluded that I had simply left it somewhere and would have to buy a new one in America.

I take a limited amount of money with me whenever I travel, and I really am very careful with how I spend it. This way, I can buy something for everyone on my list.

Before I knew it, I had spent almost all of the cash I brought and did not have enough left over to purchase a jacket.

While shopping one day, my sister came over to me with a lovely jacket in her hands.

“Do me a favor,” she said, “and try it on for me. I am too tired to try it on myself, and we are the same size.” I knew she had been planning to buy this particular item herself, and so I tried it on for her.

In the end, she bought it for me. She refused to take it for herself, as she still had another jacket at home while I did not. She said she could always buy the jacket for herself on our next trip.

The next time we traveled to America, as well as on subsequent travels, we searched in vain for another jacket like the one she bought me. We either found one in the wrong size or wrong color, or not quite the same style. I always felt bad to be wearing her “dream” jacket, while she was still searching for hers.

Now, I finally had my chance to rectify the situation.

While still in Yossie’s store, I called her. “Rivky, what is that item you are always searching for in America? Well, guess what? I have it for you!”

Who would have ever thought that quiet, unassuming Yossie could bring about such happy returns?

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