“Hello, is this the home of Rabbi Goldberg? I hope you can help me.” The voice at the other end of the phone sounded almost desperate. “Someone by mistake put a mezuzah you gave them into genizah (sheimos) and I want to return it to them. Please tell me who they are and where they live.”
What? I couldn’t quite understand this request.
“You found a mezuzah my husband wrote and you want me to tell you who it belongs to?”
“Yes, but it’s not just written by your husband. It’s written, it says, with all the segulos for shalom bayis and you gave it as a gift to a chassan and kallah. Their names, Shlomo and Aviva (not their real names), are on the card, so if you can just tell me who Shlomo and Aviva are I’ll return their special mezuzah to them. It was obviously put in genizah by mistake.”
But it wasn’t quite so simple.
My husband is a sofer and often writes a mezuzah as a wedding gift. If possible he tries to take the time and do it with the segulah of shalom bayis, which involves, among other conditions, fasting before and during the writing and not talking while writing the mezuzah. Apparently this one was still in its original envelope. But tracing the young couple wasn’t such an easy task.
We asked the caller how he had found it. He explained that he was an avreich in a kollel and he was in charge of the towels, taking the dirty ones for washing and distributing the clean ones. The storeroom for the towels was being used temporarily before Pesach for housing the bags of genizah, and that day something had fallen out of the genizah bag. He had picked it up and saw that it was a new mezuzah.
Even knowing where it had been found didn’t help us. Many of the chassanim whose weddings we attend are learning in kollel and we had no idea when this particular mezuzah was given and, truth be told, we often don’t actually know the chassan and kallah. We usually just know the parents – and these particular names meant nothing to either of us.
I told him we’d think about it thoroughly and see if we could come up with ideas, check with some recent wedding invitations, and call a few friends who’d made weddings in the last few months, to see if any of their children’s names were Shlomo and Aviva.
We thought about it and made some phone calls – but still were clueless. Quite often the couple lives in temporary accommodations and uses the mezuzot in their rented apartment. They tend to save their own mezuzot for use in their more permanent dwelling. So this couple may have gotten married some time ago.
My husband returned the man’s call and told him that as we hadn’t been able to trace the owners, the mezuzah was his to keep. After all, he had found it.
But this was obviously not good enough for the caller. He was determined to find the owners.
He called us back a few hours later to tell us, with obvious satisfaction, that he had traced the owner, the son of our friends. He had gotten married over a year ago.
“How did you find him?” we asked.
“Well, I decided that if your mezuzah was thrown away mistakenly, then presumably they had also purposely put other things in the genizah container. Maybe something would have one of their names on it. As this mezuzah had fallen from the top [of the container], I started at the mouth of the bag and looked at a few things that were at the top. And after a little while, I came across something with the name Aviva Krusky on it.