Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Returning Lost Objects Part 15*

By Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen

In the previous weeks we have discussed the process of returning a lost object to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, despite all of one's efforts, he may fail to discover the true owner. What must the finder do with the item in the event that it is never claimed?

There is a Rabbinic tradition that in the Messianic times, the Prophet Eliyahu (Eliyahu HaNavi) will return to this world and answer all the unsolved questions. In this vein, Eliyahu will reveal the rightful owners of lost items. Until this time, a finder of an unclaimed item must continue to hold the item until Eliyahu comes and discloses to whom it must be returned.

This applies both to items that have a simun (identifying mark) and to items that have no simun but were picked up before the owner became aware of the loss. See part 8 for discussion of this this case in detail; In brief, when one finds a lost object that has no simun he must try to discern whether the owner has become aware that he lost the object. If he concludes that the owner was not aware at the time of the loss, or he cannot be certain, then he must look after the item until Eliyahu comes and reveals the owner.

If the item will spoil or become obsolete in time the finder must sell it as soon as necessary. He should record its value along with the details of the case, including the date, time and place where it was found. Moreover, a description of the item and any simun should be noted down. He must then be responsible to reimburse the owner if and when he is identified. Alternatively the finder may take the item for his own use, assess the value and repay that amount to the owner.

However, if the item is not perishable then it should ideally be held until Eliyahu comes. Nonetheless, if it is difficult to keep the item, one is permitted to appraise its value and sell it. There is one exception to this allowance to sell the item: If it cannot be easily replaced, (for example, a painting or hand-written notes) then one must keep it until the owner claims it or Eliyahu informs him of the owner's identity.


*Much of the information for this essay is taken from "Halachos of Other People's Money" by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Who Has To Honor Whom?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

The Three Crowns
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Justice Must Be Carried Out
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

> Holiness Applies to More than Bagel
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

Honorable Mentshen
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Holy Reality Check
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

ArtScroll

Fun vs. Pleasure
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Empty Nest
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

“Letter to my Son Akiva”
Jon Erlbaum - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Children of the King
Shlomo Katz - 5762

Don't Take Revenge...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

The Kedusha Infomercial
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Senior Partner
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Too Familiar
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Make Your Parents and Teachers Proud
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Role of Spouse in Loving One's Neighbor
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information