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The Importance of Returning Lost Objects

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:August 26, 2015

In the portion Ki Tetze it speaks about what happens if you find something that somebody else has lost. Obviously the right thing to do is find who owns it and return it. But what happens if you don't? The Ari says that any person who finds something that was lost or that belongs to somebody else, and does not return it to its owner – for whatever reason, like he was too busy, didn't have time, or didn't care enough - turns his eyes away. And the consequence to that person who turned his eyes away will be equal: if the soul of the person who had the opportunity to return something that was lost but for whatever reason didn't take it has not been corrected when he leaves this world, then that soul is not able to go to its rightful place in the Supernal Worlds.

In the Shaar HaGilgulim, The Gate of Reincarnations, the Ari explains there are two ways of correction for the soul. One is when a righteous soul comes back in what is called an Ibur to temporarily enter a person’s body - without even sometimes the individual knowing it – and help that soul correct. Now that soul has received its correction and can leave the body. The concept of Ibur is very easy and quick for the soul; it comes in and out, gets what it needs, and leaves. The second way of correction for the soul is for gilgul, or reincarnation, to occur, which, the Ari explains, is a much more difficult process. The soul has to go through purification that is very uncomfortable, as well as the whole process of living an entire life for one correction. If you compare the two processes of correction, Ibur is therefore a much quicker, faster, purer, and preferable process for the soul.

But what happens if a person, the Ari asks, had an opportunity in this life to return something to its rightful owner and doesn’t? That soul cannot merit the assistance of the process of Ibur, and that soul will therefore be lost; if a person saw somebody else's lost object and didn't return it to the owner, then when his soul is lost, the Light of the Creator can't assist. That soul will not receive the assistance from the soul of the righteous person needed to correct it, which the Ari says is the secret of Ibur.

So the Ari is telling us this really amazing thing, specifically about a lost object, but also about any assistance that we choose to give or not give to somebody else. The Ari says that if you had the opportunity to return an object to somebody else but didn't, then after your soul leaves this world and it needs a correction through Ibur, it won't receive that assistance. It seems very disproportionate…I didn't return a sweater and now my soul is lost for a few hundred years!? It doesn't make any sense. But, hopefully, this really gives us an appreciation for our lives and our actions. Our lives in this world are much more magnified than how we see them; there are no coincidences. Why does this person happen to walk upon a sweater or a wallet that was lost? Because that person’s soul needs an Ibur, an assistance, from another soul to help it find its way.

Sometimes in our mind when we come across a lost object, or even hear about this concept, we think: what's the big deal? Somebody loses a sweater or doesn’t lose a sweater… maybe a wallet or a phone is a little bit more important, but still we don’t think it’s a big deal. However, somebody else might think it’s a big deal. And remember that the reason you are coming across that sweater, wallet, or phone in that moment is because your soul - either now or in the future - will need the assistance from somebody else when it is lost.

When you really understand that doing such a relatively simple physical action leads to your either receiving or not receiving this unbelievable supernal assistance, you realize the importance of every action. Because it isn´t a coincidence that this sweater, phone, wallet, etc. came into your view. And if you grab that opportunity in that moment, then you will receive the assistance you need in what is clearly a much more important situation. But if you let that one go, because you’re too busy or don´t have enough time, then when you do need that supernal assistance it won´t be there.

Every potential action that comes into our lives is because we need its effect, either right now, soon, or later. There are no coincidental situations; every single situation that comes into your life is because the Creator knows that by that little action you can awaken certain levels of assistance - in this case, the concept of Ibur - that you will either need now or need later. And if you don´t grab that opportunity, then the Creator can´t help.

So in this month of Elul, we should become awakened to the casual way in which we allow ourselves to either do actions or not do actions. When you realize, for example, that returning a sweater you found to its rightful owner is a way to secure the assistance that your soul needs from the soul of a righteous person to help it in its correction, it is a completely different level of understanding.

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