I think I am done for. I borrowed earrings from a friend and lost them when I moved a couple of times. Also, I tried to prevent a coworker from getting ill from frozen dinner that I thought was in the refrigerator at work too long…but…I am ashamed that I ate it. I didn’t get sick either. But, now I understand that what I did was wrong. Now I am a thief in my mind. And rightly so. I didn’t return the earrings. I ate the food that I had intended to protect a person, is first of idiotic. I am ashamed all the around. I can’t find these people, no way to contact them and tell them I am sorry and buy new earrings and a dinner. I wish there was some way that I can receive forgiveness, atonement. But, I don’t think there is. I am a goner. But, I would do it differently. I would warn my coworker not to eat that dinner, it should have remained in a freezer. And, I would never borrow something so personal as earrings again. But, they have a book that I have let them borrow. I thought that could be payment for the earrings…but I have no way of communicating that. I am done for. There’s no hope for me, is there? My soul is tainted with this forever and I’ll end up dying…..
The first things you have to know is that there definitely is a lot of hope for you. A person that wants to do teshuva and tries his hardest to return what he stole, will have siyata d’ishmaya, (help from heaven). I know of a number of such instances, where the person had no idea how to find the person that he stole from, t he sincerely tried and miraculously he found the person. Aside from that, nowadays it is easy to find people by doing an internet search for their name etc. and you’ll be surprised at what you will find.
In Judaism there is no such thing as giving up, there is always hope, Hashem can help in every situation. I know of a man that damaged someone in Russia, 60 years ago, and now he already moved to Israel, and he had absolutely no way to contact his old town… He tried whatever he could, and a little while later he was sitting next to a man in a doctor’s office, and it came out that he was that man’s son, the one who inherited him, and he was the exact person that he had to pay the money to.
Regarding the meal, I am not sure that it is considered stealing, if the person didn’t want to eat the meal. Yes if you would have meant to fool him it would be considered stealing, but you didn’t mean to do that, and the person rendered the meal ownerless. Therefore when you ate it, it is possible that it was permitted.