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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Are Diamonds Forever?

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This is in no way intended to dampen the enthusiasm of kallahs flush with excitement over their upcoming nuptials, but who hasn’t heard a “lost diamond ring” story or, for that matter, experienced firsthand the traumatic loss of a precious piece of jewelry?

In the recent past, the media featured a story of a Swedish vegetable grower who pulled a carrot out of the ground and was shocked to find her wedding ring wrapped around the vegetable. She had lost the ring sixteen years earlier and explained that her pet sheep had eaten it and “deposited” it in the compost heap where the ring’s owner eventually harvested her carrot crop.

We should all be so lucky in retrieving our lost treasures. I won’t soon forget the story of a young, naïve married woman who, some several years back, was duped into believing a tall tale a couple of strangers regaled her with on a Manhattan street. A man and woman, pretending to have suddenly stumbled upon some valuable papers lying on the ground, soon had the newly married chassidic wife parting with her jewelry as a way of showing good faith in partnering with them in a purportedly lucrative business venture — one that would have supposedly netted them dividends beyond their wildest dreams.

By the time the poor woman realized she’d been hoodwinked, she was stripped bare of all of her kallah trinkets, and at the end of the day, literally, had to face not only her spouse but her dumbstruck in-laws as well. Take heart, dear reader, for the story has a happy ending. No, she never recovered the jewelry, but her husband and new family proved to be tremendously supportive and sympathetic, and the young couple went on to build a bayis ne’eman despite the harrowing affair.

And what of those mysterious losses — earring(s), rings, and whatnots that have a way of vanishing from one day to the next? Heaven only knows how many baubles are forever buried in crevices behind yesteryear’s archaic radiators or behind sheetrock walls with central vacuum system inlets (those small circular openings children love to hurl things through).

Responsible adults can lose themselves too. Just ask the Floridian husband who tossed his wife’s $10,000 custom-made wedding ring into a trash heap. She had handed it to him as she was stepping into the shower, but instead of placing it in her jewelry box, he discarded it along with an old razor he’d been holding in his hand.

By the time the realization of his blunder dawned on him, the garbage collectors had done their thing. Undaunted, the negligent hubby donned goggles and protective gear and dove into the smelly county dump. After a half hour of wading in the most “absolutely disgusting” rubbish, he hit pay dirt when he located the pricey ring. “It was like winning the lottery,” he declared triumphantly.

My cousin Rachel can probably identify with that feeling of euphoria. Over thirty years ago, around Pesach time, her diamond ring was nowhere to be found. Presuming it went the way of the household chometz, she gave up on it. Her husband pacified her with a facsimile in the form of a cubic zirconia as a Shavuos gift.

Eight years and three kids later, my cousin rummaged for some old baby clothes her two-year old could dress her doll in, but the frustrated toddler soon handed the ill-fitting stretchy back to her mom — who reached into the foot of the outfit and fished out none other than her long lost ring. (Tucked in a pocket of a smock she had worn while Pesach-cleaning, the ring had apparently become enmeshed in the stretchy during a wash cycle.)

As the saying goes, you win some you lose some. Today many couples choose to forgo the costly real thing for a more modestly priced imitation (which to the untrained eye will pass as genuine more often than not). This would certainly help lessen one’s grief over being looted by sticky fingered domestic help.

Take the Monsey family whose live-in housekeeper absconded with $20,000 worth of jewelry in an almost clean getaway. Apprehended by detectives at the airport as she was about to board a flight back to her native country, she justified her thievery by claiming she hadn’t been paid all of her wages. Not so, countered her employers who had the forethought to secure some form of identification early on and thus had a name and passport number to go by.

Sometimes we have only ourselves to blame. Years ago, we stopped at a highway rest area where I could conveniently change my baby’s diaper. Not wanting to risk scratching him with my cherished opal-and-diamond ring I’d just received for my birthday, I removed it and placed it on the counter next to the changing table. I remembered leaving it there just as soon as I returned to our car, but it was too late. Some rest room patron had evidently found it hard to resist.

So how do we handle knowing with relative certainty that a prized possession is gone with the wind? To believe that Hashem in His mercy and benevolence has spared us a worse fate or inconvenience is a far better option than eating our hearts out. As the Yiddish expression goes, “Zol zein a kapora” (it should be an atonement).

My memory takes me back to my last year of high school, when a girl who had graduated the year before and had just become engaged, dropped in to bask in our adulation and collect our good wishes. As we surrounded the kallah and oohed and aahed over her sparkling diamond engagement ring, she smiled broadly and said, “It’s my chosson who is the real diamond.”

Now that’s a diamond forever (a gem of a guy?) and one of the more important lessons we took home with us that day.

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