web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Returning A Non-Jew’s Lost Item

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

In this week’s parshah, Yosef is the ruler of Mitzrayim and his brothers come to purchase food from him, not realizing with whom they were dealing. On the return from their first trip to Mitzrayim, Yosef’s brothers realized that the money that they paid for their food was returned to them in their sacks of food. Immediately upon their return to Mitzrayim, they were sure that they would be reprimanded for not having paid for their purchased food.

So they confessed to Yosef, and explained to him that they had brought back the money intended for the first acquisition in addition to the money they intended to use to purchase more food. Yosef assured them that everything was okay and that their God and the God of their father must have gifted them by placing money in their sacks. Keep the money, he told them.

The Ohr HaChaim explains Yosef’s response. He says that Yosef was telling his brothers that some other person must have placed the money in their sacks, and that Hashem gave it to them by means of yiush ba’alim (the owner relinquishing his ownership). He was also saying to them that bnei Noach are not commanded to return a lost object that they find.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 76b says that one is not allowed to return a lost item to a non-Jew. The Gemara speaks very harshly of one who does this. The Rambam (Hilchos Gezeilah 11:3) codifies this prohibition, but adds that it is praiseworthy to return the item if this will make a Kiddush Hashem. Perhaps Yosef’s brothers felt that returning the money would create a Kiddush Hashem, and therefore decided to return the money. Alternatively, they may have felt that if they did not return the money they would be penalized – and perhaps even killed.

Some have asked why the Ohr Hachaim felt it necessary to write that Yosef’s brothers could keep the money due to yiush ba’alim. Why would it not suffice to say that bnei Noach are not commanded to return a lost object that they find?

The Bach (Yoreh De’ah 266) explains that although one may keep a found lost item that belonged to a non-Jew, nonetheless the item still belongs to the non-Jew. The finder does not become the item’s new owner even though he is not obligated to return it. But if the non-Jew had relinquished his ownership before the item was found, the finder would be allowed to keep it.

This is in fact a machlokes. The Machaneh Efraim (Hilchos Gezeilah, siman 31) disagrees with the Bach, saying that one acquires a non-Jew’s lost item when he picks it up – even before he relinquishes ownership.

According to the Bach, perhaps the reason why the Ohr Hachaim says that Yosef told his brothers that the owner had relinquished ownership was because the brothers otherwise would have felt that the money was not theirs to keep. Even though they did not have to return the money, they would not have acquired it. Therefore Yosef assured them that the owner had already relinquished ownership.

If this is so, why did the Ohr Hachayim have to write that the bnei Noach are not commanded to return a found lost object? It would have sufficed to write that the owner has already relinquished ownership.

Perhaps the reason for this is because the Ramban, in Baba Metzia (Milchamos Hashem 26b), explains that when one finds a lost object he becomes a shomer over the object until it is returned to its owner. Whenever one is guarding an object for another we consider the object to be in the domain of the owner. When an object is in its owner’s domain he cannot relinquish ownership. Ownership can only be relinquished when an item is lost; when it is in his domain it is not considered lost and thus he cannot relinquish his ownership. Consequently, if one finds a lost object before the owner relinquishes his ownership, he must still return the object.

Yet since there is no obligation to return a lost object to a non-Jew, the one who finds it will not become a shomer for the non-Jew. Therefore, even if the non-Jew relinquishes his ownership after the object is found, the finder is permitted to keep the object. It is for this reason that the Ohr Hachaim added that bnei Noach are not commanded to return a lost object that they find. It is this fact that permits one to keep a non-Jew’s lost item, even if the non-Jew only relinquished his ownership after the item was found.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.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.

2 Responses to “Returning A Non-Jew’s Lost Item”

  1. Yechiel Baum says:

    It should not be returned to a non-Jew since non-Jewish leaders have stolen Jewish property and stores them in their churches and mosques and temples so lets do an exchange or swap?

  2. Ed says:

    It is disappointing that the article omitted any reference to the meiri’s comment to Bava Kamma קיגb. There is no question that a Jew, who is light upon all nations, should do a kiddush Hashem and return the item.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Eleven people were injured by a motorist who plowed into a crowd in southern France. The driver yelled "Allahu Akbar" as he attacked. Dec. 21, 2014
French Driver Shouting “Allahu Akbar” Plows into Crowd
Latest Judaism Stories
Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

It is clear that Tosafos maintains that only someone who lives in a house must light Chanukah candles.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

But how could there have been any validity to Yosef’s allegations?

If one converts for the sole purpose of marrying a Jew the conversion is invalid.

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

We find that in certain circumstances before the Torah was actually given, people were permitted to make calculations as to what would better serve Hashem, even if it were against a mitzvah or aveirah.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

The implication of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 233:2) is that one may not daven Minchah before six and one half hours into the day.

Some Rishonim are bothered by the opinion of the Rambam that bnei Noach are commanded not to eat basar min hachai.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/returning-a-non-jews-lost-item/2013/11/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: