web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Take It Or Leave It?


Business-Halacha-logo

The winter was over, and the days began to get longer and warmer. The sun shone brightly in clear skies, grass and flowers were blooming, and the trees were producing layers of green foliage.

Yeshiva Toras Mishpat decided to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather for an afternoon of exercise in the sprawling local park grounds, which also contained sports fields and courts. After shiur, the students packed into busses and drove over to the park.

When the students arrived, they unpacked food for a picnic lunch. Afterward, they broke into groups and spent the remainder of the day playing ball, competing in races, and running around in a wild game of ultimate Frisbee.

As the sun turned a glowing red, it was time to head home. The students gathered their belongings and boarded the buses back to the yeshiva. A few teachers stayed behind under Rabbi Dayan’s supervision to ensure that everything was in order and nothing was left behind.

They came upon a T-shirt that had fallen in a puddle and had gotten all wet and muddy, making it quite repulsive. The teachers looked at each other. “Do we have to take this back to try to return it?” they asked.

A dispute broke out. “Of course we have to,” said one. “It’s the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah, returning lost items.”

“But it’s disgusting,” said another. “I wouldn’t expect you to pick it up if I lost it.”

“I heard there’s no mitzvah until you actually pick it up,” said a third. “So we can just leave it alone.”

“Who says it’s from our group, anyway,” said a fourth. “Maybe it belongs to somebody else?”

The teachers turned to Rabbi Dayan: “Should we take it or leave it?” they asked.

“This depends on a few factors,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “It also requires an honest judgment call.”

“Could you please explain?” the teachers asked.

“There are three mitzvos and prohibitions related to hashavas aveidah,” Rabbi Dayan explained. “The primary mitzvah is the positive command: ‘Hashev teshivem – return them.’ Second, the Torah adds a prohibition to ignore a lost item, ‘Lo tuchal lehis’alem – You may not ignore.’ [Devarim 22:1-3] Third, if a person unlawfully takes a lost item for himself, he violates the prohibition, ‘Lo tigzol – Do not steal.’ [Vayikra 19:13] In addition, once a person picks up a lost item, he becomes responsible for it as a shomer, guardian.” (B.M. 26b; C.M. 259:1; SM”A and Taz)

“Then what’s the question?” said the first teacher. “It’s explicit that we must take it!”

“The Sages derived from the word ‘vehis’alamta‘ that there are situations in which a person can ignore a lost item,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “One is zaken v’aina lefi kevodo – an honored person, whom this item would belittle. The principle is to be concerned about other people’s property as your own. Would the finder be willing to retrieve the item had it been his own? Furthermore, if you are allowed to keep the lost item, you have no obligation to return it, even if you don’t want to keep it.”

“So when must a person take a lost item to return it, and when can he leave it?” asked the teachers.

“The Shulchan Aruch, citing the Tur, writes that a person has an obligation to return to a lost item only if eight conditions are met [C.M. 259:2). If any one is lacking, there is no obligation to return the item, although in many situations it is still meritorious to do so. The item has to be:

“1. In a place where there is an obligation to return it (e.g., where the majority of people are Jewish).

“2. In a place where it seems lost (not in a secure place).

“3. Left a manner that indicates it is lost (not placed there intentionally).

“4. It was not willfully abandoned.

“5. It is worth the minimal amount of a perutah.

“6. There is some siman, identifying feature.

“7. The person who found it would tend to it had it been his own.

“8. It belongs to someone to whom we are required to return.

“Thus, in this situation, you are not obligated to take the item in order to return it,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “because it is beneath your dignity to pick up such a filthy T-shirt and because the majority of people in the park are not Jewish.”

“I suppose it’s still meritorious to return it?” asked a teacher.

“There is a dispute whether it is meritorious for a Torah scholar to return an item beneath his dignity,” said Rabbi Dayan. (See C.M. 263:3) “There are also some situations in which it is not recommended, or even prohibited, to take the item, which we will discuss, IY”H, next time!”

About the Author: Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to subscribe@businesshalacha.com. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Take It Or Leave It?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Photo from President Barack Obama's past visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Meir Orlian
Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

Business-Halacha-logo

“Do we have to donate again?” some people asked. “Is it fair that we should have to pay twice?”

“This sounds like a question for Rabbi Dayan,” said Mr. Cohen. He took out his cell phone and called Rabbi Dayan.

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

“Halacha differentiates between giving a gift, forgoing a debt [mechila], and granting permission to take something,” answered Rabbi Dayan.

“I don’t accept this,” said Mr. Zummer. “I want you to finish! You’re not allowed to just stop in the middle!”

“That’s what you’re wondering?” laughed Mr. Rubin. “That ring is not mine at all. A relative gave me money to buy it for him.”

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/take-it-or-leave-it/2013/05/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: