Boca Raton, FL – Less than one week after a Boca Raton rabbi bought seven pairs of lost tefillin at a store that sells unclaimed lost and found items, the owner of the last pair of tefillin has been identified.Join our WhatsApp group
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Rabbi Uri Pilichowski was on his way back to Florida with his family when he found the tefillin at the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Alabama last Wednesday. As previously reported on VIN News, Rabbi Pilichowski posted pictures of the tefillin on Facebook and six of the seven owners had been identified by the end of the week.
The seventh pair remained unclaimed for several more days until an Israeli man whose daughter is close with the Pilichowski family took matters into his own hands, first re-posting the story on Facebook and then setting about trying to find the last owner on his own.
“There was such siyata dishmaya in the way the first six pairs were returned, it couldn’t spoil the story by not being able to find the seventh owner,” Ami Mintzer of Elkana told VIN News.
The seventh pair of lost tefillin was the only one found by Rabbi Pilichowski that had no name or identifying initials. Originally, Mintzer mistakenly thought that the unclaimed tefillin were a pair that were housed in a black velvet bag with the initials yud, mem, vav vav.
“The evening before I thought I had found the owners of the missing tefillin,” said Mintzer. “I googled ‘yud, mem, vav vav tefillin’ and I found a note posted in a Satmar newsletter two years ago in Yiddish that someone had lost a pair of Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. I was so happy that I found it and I wrote to Rabbi Pilichowski who told me that that wasn’t the pair of tefillin that he couldn’t identify.”
The only clue to the origin of the unclaimed tefillin was a sticker from Machon Stam in Cholon and Mintzer consulted a phone directory and got to work, hoping to be able to perform the mitzvah of hashavas aveida.
“I spoke with the owner and told him the story and he told me which sofer had checked the tefillin,” said the 56 year old businessman. “I found the sofer, spoke with him and he was able to tell me the owner of the tefillin.”
The tefillin belonged to Emilio Maimon of Bat Yam who had been traveling from Mexico to Denver last December when his suitcase, containing the tefillin, were lost.
“I am so happy that the tefillin were found,” said Maimon.
Mintzer noted that the credit for returning the tefillin goes not to him but to Rabbi Pilichowski.
“I played a very, very small part in this amazing story,” said Mintzer.