Talmud Tips

For the week ending 22 October 2016 / 20 Tishri 5777

Bava Metzia 23 - 29

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
Become a Supporter Library Library

Rava said, “The obligation to return a lost object to a person who claims and describes the object that he lost with proper ‘signs’ is a Torah obligation.”

There is both a positive mitzvah and a “negative command” to return a lost object to its owner, as the verses state, “You shall return it to him” and “You shall not ignore it”. (See Devarim 22:1-3)

The gemara asks if the obligation to return the lost object based on simanim (signs that identify the object) is of Torah origin or is a Rabbinical decree. Rava explains that it is of Torah origin since there is a verse that teaches to return the lost object to one who gives proper signs: “It shall be with you until your fellow person seeks it out” (Dev. 22:2). “Would I ever think to return it to someone who doesn’t seek it out?” asks Rava rhetorically. Rather, the words in the verse “ad drosh achicha oto” need to be understand in a manner that is different than at first glance. The intent of these words is that the finder “seeks out and checks out” the person who claims he lost it, by demanding proper identification of the object. In this way the finder is certain that he is not giving the lost object to a fraud, but that in fact he is returning the lost object to its true owner.

  • Bava Metzia 28a

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Talmud Tips

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.