During the time of the Roman Empire, when the Jews were subservient to the Romans, many harsh decrees were enacted to both humiliate the Jews and stunt their growth in Judiasm. Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon, the father-in-law of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, and one of the asirah harigei malchus, was caught teaching Torah studies to Jews. This was an act strictly prohibited by the evil Romans, and they ordered that Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon be executed. At the same time, they ordered that Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon’s daughter be sent to a brothel.
Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, who was married to Bruriah, the sister of the captive woman, set out on a mission to rescue his sister-in-law.
After locating the brothel where his sister-in-law was held captive, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness offered the warden a large bag of dinars. When the warden proclaimed his fear of punishment, were he to be caught for the crime of releasing Rabbi Meir’s sister-in-law from captivity, Rabbi Meir promised the warden that he would be saved if he would cry out “G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me.”
In order to prove that the words “G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me.” would prove to be worthy of saving the warden from a fate of punishment, Rabbi Meir demonstrated by walking over to a pit of hungry, vicious dogs, and throwing a stone in their direction. When they charged upon him, Rabbi Meir screamed out: “G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me.”
Though the dogs were accustomed to devouring humans, they remained still and did not approach Rabbi Meir Baal Haness.
The warden was convinced, and allowed Rabbi Meir’s sister-in-law to go free.
As he predicted, after releasing Rabbi Meir’s sister-in-law, the warden was caught, and sentenced for execution. As the noose was being tightened around his neck he suddenly remembered the promise of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness and cried out: “G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me!” The rope immediately snapped, and the guard was saved from his fate of death.
At that, the Romans accepted that the warden indeed could go free. However, upon further questioning, they discovered that Rabbi Meir was guilty of redeeming his sister-in-law, and they wanted to punish him for this act. In order to track him down, the Romans engraved a likeness of Rabbi Meir on the city gates, and ordered their soldiers to track him down.
Rabbi Meir was successful in escaping the Romans, but he spent many years in exile, as a hunted man.
Thereafter, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness became well-renowned for helping people in need, with finding lost objects one of the needs high up on the list.
In fact, before he passed away, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness promised that he will intercede in Heaven, on behalf of anyone in distress, who will give charity to the poor of Israel in his memory.
For hundreds of years, people have been reciting the tefillah to find a lost item, which is better known as Amar Reb Binyanim, and they donate charity to the poor of Israel, as a merit to find their lost item.