Honorable Mensch-ion

A Simple T-Shirt

While scrolling my Twitter feed after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, I saw a post by University of Houston basketball coach, Kelvin Sampson. He made a simple ask. Send 20 t-shirts to Houston. On my bookshelf, I spotted 20 leftover T-shirts from our Sinai Temple Basketball Camp and I felt the urge to help. By the end of the day, these t-shirts were Houston bound. I will never know who will wear these shirts, and the recipients will not have heard of Sinai Temple.

In our Torah we learn the mitzvah of a hashavat aveida, returning lost property. Yet, watching the news this week, a new question arose. What happens if I witness someone lose property, and I know it cannot be returned? In Houston, we see utter devastation, families without homes, without cars, and without shirts on their back. Each one of us has asked, what can we do? How far must we go to not return one’s lost property?

Our tradition teaches that one must announce the loss, and a finder must announce what they found. The Shulchan Arukh, Jewish Law Code, explains that we are required to hang up signs in places like our schools and our synagogues, which many people frequent. This week and in the coming days, so many will declare what they have lost. May we follow the wisdom of our tradition and announce that we may help them find again.

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