Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Returning Lost Objects

Part 4*

In previous weeks we began discussion of the lengthy laws pertaining to returning lost items. Last week we saw how one must assess whether an object is in fact lost or has been deliberately placed in that place and the owner plans to retrieve it. If this seems to be the case, then the 'finder' should not touch the object. If, however, he deduces that it is probably lost, then he may be obligated to try to return it to its owner. However, even if an item is lost, there are many circumstances in which it need not be returned to its original owner. In this piece, we will discuss some of these:

1. The obligation of returning a lost object does not apply to an object that is worth less than a prutah. A prutah was the lowest value of currency in the time of the Talmud. The modern day equivalent of a prutah is the lowest common denomination that can be used to purchase items. For example, in contemporary America, a penny or nickel cannot purchase anything. and even a dime can hardly purchase anything. Accordingly, if one found an item worth less than a dime he would not be obligated to return it. It is important to note that whilst one may take a lost item worth less than a prutah it is strictly forbidden to steal or borrow without permission such an item. Indeed, the Rabbis tell us that stealing items worth less than a prutah was one of the sins that the Generation of the Flood were punished for so harshly.

2. If an item falls into a place where under normal circumstances it will not be recovered, then it is deemed to be lost. Consequently, someone who then finds or recovers it may keep it. For example, if someone finds a watch that was dropped into the sea then he can presume that its owner has abandoned hope for it. Such an attitude renders an item hefker, which means that it is now considered ownerless and its finder can keep it. However, it should be noted that if the finder does identify the true owner, then it is praiseworthy for him to return it. One exception to this is if the finder is poor and the loser is wealthy.

We will continue with this list in coming weeks.


*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


 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

In Every Generation
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Going the Extra Mile
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Shehechiyanu in Bergen Belsen
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

ArtScroll

Non Negotiable Part II
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

The Meaning of Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Chanukah
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

What Miracle?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Behind the Gray Blur
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

See What Will Be
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

> Miracles of Modesty
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Taking A Stand - Making A Difference
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

A Perfect Marriage
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Lend Me an Ear
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Two Paradigms of Thankful Individuals
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Suffering From Success
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

See Yaakov Run
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770



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