The text-notification from our bank immediately caught my eye. "No, I had not withdrawn cash from an ATM 30km from my house at midnight," I told the agent on the fraud hotline.
Apparently the checkout-lady at a store my wife frequents decided to ring up her own end-of-year bonus by skimming some of the cards she had run. Most were probably credit cards, but ours is a debit card with a strict daily limit, thank G-d.
After a string of attempts at the ATM, the card thieves only managed to squeeze out petty cash from our account. I'm guessing they were frustrated at their meager-pickings, but stealing from a rabbi doesn't often net a large haul.
We had to immediately cancel our cards, and endure the process of getting new ones and changing PINs and passwords.
Posting the incident on social media, I was horrified to discover just how many of my friends around the world have fallen prey to this kind of fraud. I have felt the sting of violent crime before, so I am relieved to have been passively relieved of my cash in this instance.
What probably happened is: My wife was at the till, one staff helping her offload her groceries and re-pack them, the teller ringing up her purchases. In a blink, while my wife was duly distracted, the seasoned criminals must have zipped her card through a skimming device.
Boom! Your card is cloned without you noticing anything untoward.
Thank G-d, my bank texts transaction notifications. Thank G-d, I actually read the text that exposed the fraud, as soon as I received it. Overlooking that notification could have been an expensive error.
Minor life events often reveal insight into the bigger picture of life. And we always need to be alert to read the messages when they arrive.
Each of us comes to Life with a purpose to fulfill. As we go along, we're meant to stock up on goodness, kindness, study and personal growth and fill our soul's "bank account". Should we lose focus, for even a moment, we could lose much of what we've spent time achieving. There is no "stagnant" in life- if you pause from growing, you can expect to lose something.
Victims of card fraud (like the victims of any theft) often feel incensed at the injustice of how someone so easily nabbed your hard-earned cash. It's unfair that you should invest time and energy, only to have your earnings picked effortlessly by a miscreant.
It's not only money we have to work hard to achieve. We need to work at least as hard to develop our character and healthy traits, and to get in touch with our souls. It may be tempting to find someone we admire and just try to clone their attitudes, philosophies and ideals. We could regurgitate their sayings, mimic their gestures and lecture about their worldview. But, there is no value in copycat personal growth. The only meaningful way to develop into a better, more sensitive, more spiritual person is to slog through your own personal journey, with its victories and failures until you become the only person you are expected to be: You, at your best.