It can be very painful to feel like somehow we’ve lost out and someone else has gotten what is rightfully ours. But we don’t have to feel that way. On Rosh Hashanah God looks at each of us and decides exactly how much of everything—money, health, good times, etc.—would be best for us to receive throughout the coming year.
Of course, God wants us to make an effort to get what we want and need. But we can do so calmly, because there is nobody and nothing that can take away even the tiniest amount of what is meant to be ours. (Nor can we take away from others what is meant to be theirs.)
Once we learn the lesson of Rosh Hashanah, that if something’s really meant to come our way it will, no matter what, we will feel much more happy and secure and will have no reason to be jealous of others.
In our story we meet a boy who knows that everybody gets only that which is rightfully his.
The Card Trick
Jeff Ross loved baseball. You could almost call him a baseball fanatic.
Each day Jeff would run home from school to read the box scores before he even took off his coat. He loved playing, watching and reading about the sport. But most of all he loved collecting baseball cards. His room was practically a baseball card museum stacked with box after box of cards, each box precisely sorted and labeled. Some of his cards were considered rare antiques, and quite valuable. Jeff would constantly add to his collection by trading with friends at school and even with other collectors all over the world via the internet.
One Sunday Jeff was on his way home from a ballgame when a sign caught his eye: GARAGE SALE—EVERYTHING MUST GO! “I wonder if they’re selling baseball cards?” he thought to himself as he turned his bike in the direction the sign pointed to.
At the sale, Jeff found tables that were set up with stacks of used books, a bunch of old-looking appliances and piles of toys. He snooped around a bit and, sure enough, buried among the toys was a shoe box full of baseball cards. Jeff thumbed through the cards. Nothing really special … and then something caught his eye. Jeff gasped. There, right in the middle of the stack was a rare baseball card he had been trying to find for years! It would complete his team collection from the Champion 1969 New York Mets.
Jeff grabbed the box of cards and walked over to the man running the sale. “How much do you want for these cards, Mister?” he asked, trying to contain his excitement. The short, balding man shook his head and smiled. “Oh, those old things? My boy never even looks at them anymore. You can have the whole box for two dollars.”
Jeff couldn’t believe his luck. That one rare card alone was worth much more than that. He reached into his pocket to pay and gulped. He only had one dollar on him! The rest of his money was at home. Thinking fast, he said to the man, “I’ll be right back with the rest of the money, sir. Would you please save these for me?”
The man smiled. “It’s first come, first served, son.” But then he added with a chuckle, “I wouldn’t worry though. Nobody’s interested in these old things. You’re the first person to even look at them all day.”
Having no other choice, Jeff reluctantly put the box back where he had found it and dashed on his bike, full speed until he got home. He practically leaped up the stairs, grabbed his money and started flying down.
“Hey, where are you going so fast?” asked his brother Matt. Jeff quickly told him the story and his brother, almost as excited as Jeff, decided to ride back with him to claim the “treasure.”
But when they got there, Jeff was in for a shock. The box of cards was missing! The two boys ran over to the man, who was arranging one of the tables. The man noticed their disappointed look and said, “Sorry son. It was the strangest thing. As soon as you left, another boy came and bought the cards. He must have seen you looking at them. As I said, ‘First come, first served.’ Maybe you’d like to buy a used pair of walkie-talkies instead, real cheap?”
Jeff just shook his head and slowly turned to leave. His brother looked furious. “You were robbed!” he said. “Those cards were rightfully yours. If only the man… If only the other kid…”
But Jeff shook his head. “No, Matt. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
“What do you mean?” asked his astonished brother.
“Of course I feel crushed that somebody else got the cards. But one thing I know—if they were really coming to me I would have gotten them no matter what. And since I didn’t, it must mean that it was never really supposed to be in the first place, so why should I get mad at anybody?”
Matt could hardly believe what he was hearing, but he had to admit it seemed to make sense. The boys slowly climbed onto their bikes and prepared for the long uphill ride home.
But as they were starting to ride, they saw a woman and a young boy walking past. The woman was holding the boy tightly by the elbow with one hand and in the other she was holding a shoebox. Jeff stopped short. “The baseball cards!” he exclaimed.
The woman placed the precious cargo down in front of the seller while scolding her child. “You know you’re not allowed to buy things without my permission!” She took back the two dollars from the man and briskly led the boy away.
Jeff and Matt looked at each other in amazement. They ran quickly and bought the box of cards before the man even had a chance to put them back. Jeff grinned at his wide-eyed brother and said, “It looks like they really were coming to me after all!”
Nesanel Yoel Safran is a writer, chef and a teacher/student of Jewish spirituality. He blends these assorted vocations on his blog, “Soul Foodie,” where you can join him on mystical cooking adventures and glean practical wisdom for the kitchen—and for living.