web analytics
August 20, 2014 / 24 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



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
James Foley and his Islamic State executioner.
ISIS Beheadings Mark Declared War on the United States
Latest Judaism Stories
Azrielli Tower - Shema Yisrael

A bit of (non-Jewish) history can help us understand this week’s Torah portion: In the early 1500s, the Catholic church was being fundamentally challenged by movements which claimed it had monopolized religious power and used to enrich the church and its officials. The most radical of these movements were a particular sect of Anabaptists. Anabaptists […]

Leff-081514

“When a mother plays with her child there is an acute awareness of the child. But even when the mother works at a job or is distracted by some other activity, there is a natural, latent awareness of her child’s existence.

Business-Halacha-logo

“Guess what?” Benzion exclaimed when he returned home. “I just won an identical Mishnah Berurah in the avos u’banim raffle.”

The-Shmuz

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

An Outcast
‘He Shall Dwell Outside His Tent’
(Moed Katan 7b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.

“But they told me to come in today,” she said. They gave me this date months ago. It’s not my fault if it’s the wrong day.”

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Blind obedience is not a virtue in Judaism. God wants us to understand the laws He has commanded us

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.

The innkeeper smiled and replied, “Why do you think we are dancing? We are dancing because G-d destroyed the Bais HaMikdash!”

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

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

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Rambam says that in order to honor Shabbos, one must wash his hands, face, and feet with warm water on Friday.

The talmid is not allowed to speak up due to any fear. If he remains silent, he is in violation of this prohibition.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

We need to understand why Moshe Rabbeinu decided to ask that his sons inherit his position after this new halacha was introduced.

If it is not prohibited when there is a purpose for inflicting the tza’ar, why was Bilam chastised for tza’ar ba’alei chaim?

How can we be certain that any animal can be counted toward ma’asar beheimah when perhaps it is a treifah?

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: