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The Elements of Jewish Living

A Blind Man’s Outlook

By Rabbi Sender Haber

My Great-Uncle Nat was blind. As kids we were fascinated by his talking watch and the way that he counted steps. We would talk about how all of his clothing were matching so that he could get himself dressed in the morning. We did not fully grasp the implication of his handicap. We just thought that it was cool.

Once, while davening at his shul in Florida, a friend pointed out that Uncle Nat was using someone else’s tallis bag. He had apparently swapped it accidentally and had been using it, unaware that the name embroidered on the front was not his own. Nobody recognized the name on the bag and Uncle Nat, who travelled around a bit, had no idea where he had picked it up. He decided that he would continue to use the bag. One day, somebody might recognize the name and help him return it.

Three years later Uncle Nat was in Lawrence sitting Shiva for his sister, my Aunt Hattie. As groups of people made their way through the house, one man recognized his Tallis bag and asked if he could have it back.

Uncle Nat began to cry tears of joy. I don’t remember the exact words that he used, but it went something like this:

“I am over ninety years old and blind. When does a man like me get the opportunity to return a lost object? Blind men don’t find things. I thank G-d for giving me the opportunity to do this Mitzvah before I die.”

He kissed the tallis bag and returned it to its proper owner.

We need to thank G-d that we have the ability to help others.

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