Talmud Tips

For the week ending 15 October 2016 / 13 Tishri 5777

Bava Metzia 16 - 22

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Rav Yitzchak said, “It is the nature of a person to frequently feel for his wallet of money to check that he still has it.”

The gemara cites this teaching of Rav Yitzchak regarding human behavior to explain why we are taught that a finder of lost money may keep it for himself. Why shouldn’t he be concerned with the possibility that the person who lost the money may not be aware that it fell from him, and therefore did not actually consciously give up hope of getting the lost money back? (The halacha is according to Abayei who requires a “conscious” giving up of hope, as opposed to Rava who accepts an “assumed” giving up of hope had the loser known that he lost the money in order to rule “finders keepers”.)

Years ago, when I was sitting near a great Rabbi in Jerusalem who was teaching Torah to our group of students, I noticed that he was reaching inside his suit jacket quite often and seemed to be feeling his heart. I was worried that he wasn’t well, and asked him after the lecture if he was feeling okay. He replied, “Baruch Hashem”, he was feeling fine. When I explained that I was concerned due his frequent reaching inside his jacket, he said, “Today I am carrying a wallet inside my jacket, and the gemara says that it is the way of a person to frequently feel for his wallet.” He concluded: “I want to be considered a person!”

  • Bava Metzia 21b

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