Ethics

For the week ending 17 November 2007 / 7 Kislev 5768

Missing from the "Wall"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Question: During a recent visit to my local Jerusalem synagogue I took the last siddur (prayer book) left on the shelf and when I opened the cover I saw written in it that it was the property of the Western Wall authority. Was I permitted to use it for prayers and do I have an obligation to return it to its rightful owner? What is the right thing to do?

Answer: You had a right to use that siddur even if it did not belong to your synagogue because we may assume that the Western Wall authority would be pleased to have their property used for this mitzvah. As regards returning it to the rightful owner, you should check with the synagogue trustees how such a siddur got to where it is. If it turns out that someone mistakenly brought it there after a visit to the Kotel, it is your responsibility as the finder of a lost object to return it to its owner. With so many people regularly visiting the Kotel, it should not be difficult to find a neighbor who will do you the favor of taking it to the Kotel on his next visit.

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