Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Thief Who Repaid His Debt

Posted Sunday, Aug 12 2012 10:50pm in Chabad News, Israel

This week, a young yeshiva bochur walked into the Makolet Avraham grocery store in Bnei Brak and handed the storekeeper a closed envelope before running away very quickly. Avraham, the storekeeper, opened the envelope and found NIS 300 inside. With it was a letter. On the envelope itself was written:

“Dear storekeeper,
“When I was a little boy, there was a time when I used to take chocolates (not too many) from the store. As I am very sorry about this, I have enclosed a sum of money. I would like to ask you to say, ‘I forgive’ out loud.
“Written with great pain,
“The little boy who once was.”

The storekeeper, feeling very moved, immediately said the words, ‘I forgive.’
Later, storekeeper Rabbi Avraham Ruchamkin, who is also the gabbai of the Chabad shul in Bnei Brak, reported that he had been busy with customers when two boys aged 14-16 came into the store. One of them handed him the envelope and then they ran out of the store.
“At first, I didn’t understand what was going on,” he said. “But when I opened the envelope and read what was inside, I was very moved and I said, ‘I forgive’ in front of the customers. I have been running the shop for 33 years, and this is the first time that such a thing has happened. Two other similar incidents did occur over the years, however. Once, when I was at a wedding, a young man approached me and asked to speak to me alone. He told me that when he was a child, he lived near my store and sometimes he stole candies, and he asked my forgiveness. Another time, I opened the store and I found a letter that had been slid under the door asking for forgiveness. But today’s story, where money was also included in the envelope really moved me.”
Rabbi Ruchamkin added that he would be donating the NIS 300 to tzedakah.
The boy looked like he was from a religious background, in learning rather than at work. He may have been too embarrassed to ask his parents for the money to pay for something that he was clearly ashamed of and possibly earned the cash by working hard during his vacation from yeshiva.
When the commissioner of the Dan Region police force, Brig. Gen. Albert Ochayon, heard about the incident, he said, “Usually cases of children stealing from stores do not reach the police. But this is a rare case. It would seem that it bothered the boy for some years. I am almost sure that the value of the candies that he stole didn’t reach NIS 300. I would be interested to know if he and his family are residents of the region under my command.” 

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