Apparently quality barbells, they clearly cost a lot of money.
Yet neither they nor their friends had any idea to whom the barbells belonged.
At first, they left them in the clubhouse for the owner's return.
But every day my sons checked, the barbells remained in the same place.
Finally, we took the barbells into our home to preserve them from the elements or possible theft.
We tacked a sign on the clubhouse (which stood next to a popular walkway) stating the presence of the barbells, plus our address & phone number, but no one called or came.
When the wind blew the sign down, we tacked it back on.
The sign remained up for months, but no one came.
We didn't place an ad in the lost-and-found section of our neighborhood publications because it seemed that someone wanted to hide the barbells and the clubhouse seemed a convenient place for them.
Some communities frown on body-building, unless a specific health issue demands it. They consider regular exercise (like walking) a positive habit, but reject the culture of pumping up extra muscle for no reason.
(And I discovered how insightful that attitude is when I saw that frum boys who started muscle-building exercises indeed became obsessed with their muscles & physique.)
So we didn't place an ad because we figured the owner, by discreetly placing them in a corner of the clubhouse, wished to keep the barbells a secret.
Late last night, one of my teenagers happened to glance out the window and saw a couple of young men stealthily entering the clubhouse.
He called out to them, asking them what they were doing.
One answered, "My friend forgot something here...uh, barbells."
His "friend," eh?
My son immediately understood.
"Six kilos?" said my son.
"Yes," said the young man.
"We have them here at our home. Come on up and take them."
With guarded expressions, they came to the door and my son cheerfully handed them the barbells.
As we'd guessed, the pair looked like they came from a community that frowned on body-building.
Then they asked for a bag strong enough to hold the barbells, and we gave them one.
Because I didn't want them to think that we'd stolen the barbells, I explained to them how happy we were they'd come to collect the barbells, and how we put up a sign on the clubhouse to direct the owners to our home.
Then we asked for forgiveness for any inconvenience caused and with smiles, they said it was fine.
And they left.
Hashem is on Our Side
With Rosh Hashanah coming up fast and all the slate-cleaning necessary to prepare for a renewed lease on life, Hashem's orchestration of the return of the barbells prevented us from holding onto something that did not belong to us.
Returning a lost object is a huge mitzvah and one can transgress the prohibition against theft if one is not careful about making sure that the property of others stays with others.
How fortunate that the owner came by not only when we were home, but that in the darkness, Hashem caused my son to notice them at exactly that moment.
It's the kind of situation you can't create on your own and it made me feel like Hashem really cares about us, that He's helping us clean up our act prior to judgment.
In other words, Hashem Himself WANTS us to come out with a happy verdict.
God is not a petty tyrant looking to punish — He WANTS us to succeed!
He WANTS to reward us!
Also, the above is a lot like another incident in which I davened for Hashem to help me apologize to & ask forgiveness of a boy I'd inadvertently hurt, but wasn't even in the country.
Hashem brought him right to my door on the first night of Rosh Hashanah.
(You can read that story here: When It's Hard to Say You're Sorry)
"One who comes to be purified — they [Hashem's agents] assist him."