Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I wanted my challah

A guest post by Rivka

My kids' school runs a fundraiser. Every Friday parents can pick up pre-ordered Challahs. Well, last Friday, I forgot to pick mine up. It had my name written across the bag, so they knew it was mine. When the school called me, and asked me what to do with the Challah, I told them, "Put it aside, I'll pick it up on Monday."

Monday morning, I went into the office to pick up my Challah, and was told that the shul minyan that meets at the school for davening on Shabbat needed a Challah for Si'udat Shlishit, and used mine. They left a message for me saying that they would reimburse me. I became upset, but tried to hide it. I had been looking forward to savoring that Challah, and had actually been relying on it for one of my kid's sandwiches. But how could I make a big deal about a Challah, especially when it had clearly been used for a good purpose?

I guess I didn't hide my upset that well, because a few hours later, a woman from the shul called me and told me that the Challah had been a "God-sent," and insisted on reimbursing me. I told her to consider the Challah my donation to the minyan. She thanked me profusely before hanging up.

I see two ways of looking at this: Either it was divine providence that I forgot my Challah, so that the shul could have it for Si'udat Shlishit, or they used a stolen Challah to perform a mitzvah, which I'm thinking is a no-no. But my question is, does my feeling on the matter, *after the fact*, change things? If I truly make myself think that the Challah was a donation to the shul, is it then "God's will" that I forgot to pick it up on Friday? But if I stay bitter about them taking my Challah, does that make what they did an aveirah?

The Challah clearly had my name on it. It is possible, I suppose, that they thought that the Challah would be thrown out or get stale if no one ate it. Had the school mentioned to me on Friday that the shul might need it for Si'udat Shlishit, I would have offered the Challah immediately, but also would have bought bread for sandwiches. The woman from the shul offered to reimburse me, but never offered to pick me up another Challah from the shop. And--I REALLY WANTED MY CHALLAH

DB: I think this is an interesting question. Didn't the minyan steal the challah? Rivka wanted it, and she hadn't given up on it, so it couldn't be considered ownerless. The minyan likely assumed the challah was ownerless,  but they were wrong, and because Rivka's name was on the bag, I don't see any grounds for that assumption. If I'm right, and taking the challah was an act of theft, by what rational can that shul lady claim that "divine providence" brought her the bread she stole? I see none

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