Daf Yomi

For the week ending 2 May 2009 / 7 Iyyar 5769

Bava Metzia 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Finders Keepers - But Who?

The Rules:
  1. If someone is hired for a specific job, anything he finds during the period of his employment belongs to him. If he is hired, however, to work in general for the day whatever he finds belongs to his employer.
  1. Whatever a Jewish servant finds belongs to him.
The Problem:
A servant is required to do all general work for his master.

Why then is he entitled to keep what he finds?

The Resolutions:

according to:

Rabbi Yochanan The Sage Rava Rabbi Popa
Rule Two applies to a highly skilled servant, such as a jewelry craftsman, whose labor is generally of more value to his master than that of a lost object he will pick up. It is therefore the implicit will of the master that he be relieved of any resposibility to serve him in any way other than practicing his craft. The servant may therefore retain the unusually valuable object he finds and compensate his master for the time lost. Rule Two applies only to a situation in which the servant is able to pick up the lost object without losing any time at the expense of his master. Rule Two applies to every situation except one in which the worker has been specifically hired to find lost objects for his employer; i.e., the river has overflowed leaving enough fish on the shore to make it worthwhile hiring someone to gather them.
  • Bava Metzia 22a

When Labor Becomes Bondage

A day laborer may quit his job even in the middle of the day (unless such a work stoppage causes actual damage to his employer due to his indispensability in that particular situation) without suffering any loss in the wages due him for the hours in which he worked.

This freedom to quit is based on the Divine warning that "the Children of Israel are My servants" and not the servants of servants. To compel a worker to continue working against his will is tantamount to bondage.

This aversion to bondage also finds expression in the law (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 373:3) prohibiting a Jew to enter into an agreement to work for someone for more than three years, because at that point he changes his status from employee to something approaching bondage.

  • Bava Metzia 10a

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