Rabbi Chaim Mellul of Beth Habad Loubavitch in Creteil, France shared the following story:
“It was the first time that I organized a group trip to the Rebbe with members of my community.
We had an amazing Shabbat in Crown Heights. Motzei Shabbos, we had scheduled an evening in Manhattan. In Times Square we were approached by a homeless man. He came over and asked me: “Are you a Rabbi?”
I replied in the affirmative.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“I found this bag with leather straps in the street, and I would like to make sandals with these straps. I would like you to tell me if it has any value?”
He opened the bag… and took out a pair of Tefillin!
Obviously, I wanted to save the Tefillin. I told him that I would buy ‘the straps’ for 20 dollars. After some negotiation, he agreed to sell it to me for $25.
Inside the bag, we found a name and a telephone number that was difficult to read. Somehow we managed to read the number, and we arranged to meet the owner on Sunday morning in 770.
Sunday morning, we met the owner who was overjoyed to get back his Tefillin: “It’s incredible! It’s incredible!” He kept repeating “G-d brought you from France to find my Tefillin!”