I was reminded this week of the magical Jewish formula for results and a great lost object story to boot.
“Yagata u’metzasa, ta’amin,” says the Talmud - “If you toiled and found (results), believe it.” At first glance this seems pretty obvious: hard work leads to accomplishment.
But why does the Talmud use the words “toil” and “finding”? Toil leads to achievement, not finding. Finding something is a gift, independent of hard work.
I was once flying back to New York on a Thanksgiving weekend. The lines snaked endlessly. After hours of waiting I was whisked through security to catch my already delayed flight.
As the sun set through the plane window, I reached for my wallet siddur only to discover it missing. It was somewhere in the airport.
Kiss it goodbye, I thought. It’s a massive airport. Any number of opportunistic folks could have found it. And no one wants to delay this flight further with an unlikely search.
Then another thought hit: G-d could do it; I just have to try.
So I called to the stewardess passing by, “I lost my wallet somewhere in the airport. Is it possible to go look?” She looked at me incredulously.
“Perhaps you dropped it on the plane,” she said as she dropped to the floor. “What was in it?”
I knew it was not on the plane, but I was making an effort.
“Well, it’s black leather and it has my Palm Pilot in it.”
“Palm Pilot?” said a passenger within earshot. “There was just an announcement over the PA about one.”
We walked out the plane to the security lady at the gate. They had my wallet. I had it within moments.
The stewardess turned to me and said, “I couldn’t help but notice how calm you were during that whole process. Are you a doctor?”
“No,” I replied, “but I learn the Talmud.”