Home > Rabbi Baruch Lederman > A letter to a thief

A letter to a thief

By  Rabbi Baruch Lederman

Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO–Korach and his cohorts were all brilliant talented men possessing many outstanding qualities and even virtues. Their emotions skewed their vision in tragic fashion. Emotions can  lead us astray, and when touched properly, can lead us back; as the following true story, documented in Ha’Itonai, and verified by Binah Magazine, illustrates:

Diego searched the house. He couldn’t believe that such a mansion could be so devoid of valuables, no safe, no jewelry, no silver, no money. How could this be?

Diego Francisca was a Jewish teenager who had emigrated from Argentina to Israel with his mother. Diego’s father, who had abandoned the family years ago, was not Jewish. His  mother was Jewish but had very little connection with Judaism. She abhorred the fact that Diego stole; but when the rent was due and she had no other money to pay it, she turned  a blind eye to Diego’s ‘career.’ By the time he was ten he was already an accomplished burglar.

Now he was in a situation he had never encountered. The villa looked gorgeous from the outside, yet so barren of booty on the inside. He decided to do one last sweep of the  premises before giving up. Finally he spotted a briefcase on top of the refrigerator. “Bingo,” he thought to himself.

He grabbed the briefcase and made his getaway. When he opened the briefcase he found it stuffed with old newspapers. They were dated fifteen years ago. Continuing to  rummage through the briefcase he found an envelope. The envelope contained two hundred-dollar bills along with what appeared to be a letter, also dated fifteen years ago:

“Dear Thief,

I am glad you found the $200 I left for you. It is meant as a compensation for the disappointment you must have felt after all the time you spent rummaging my home and finding  nothing. Now you won’t walk away empty handed. I am happy for you.”

Bizarre as this letter was, something about the warm, personal tone reached Diego and tugged at his heart. No one ever cared about him as much as the stranger who wrote this letter. He continued reading.
Allow me to enlighten you my friend. It is a cornerstone of Torah Judaism that Hashem runs the world and provides for all. On Rosh Hashanah, the income of each Jew is decreed  – to the last penny. So it turns out that when a person steals, he actually steals from himself. Why? Because the $200 could have been yours without you stealing it.

I am eager to get to know you my friend. I have no doubt that we will have a lot to talk about. I have no hard feelings. I simply want to make my small contribution towards getting you  out of the vicious cycle of theft. You can call me any time. My phone number is xxxxxxxxx.

Shraga Avigad”

Diego was stunned. In fact that is an understatement. But deep down, he did want to get out of the stealing rut. The profundity of that letter was enormous. Diego had a lot to think  about.

The next night, Dr. Shraga Avigad, a senior surgeon in Beilinson Hospital, received a phone call.

“Hello, Doctor?”

“I… uh, I’m the thief…”

“I am so happy you called…”

And thus began a beautiful friendship. With Dr. Avigad’s patient loving guidance, Diego embarked and embraced a new life of Torah and Mitzvos.

Dedicated by Rich & Julie Goodwin in honor of the Goodwin Gang kids; Faigie, Reuvie, Shaindle, Zavie; their accomplishments and simchas in 2010.

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