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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Ten, Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Eleven, Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Twelve

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Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Ten

1

The following law applies when a powerful and violent gentile took over property belonging to a Jew by force, seizing his field because the owner owed him a debt, caused him damages or caused him financial loss. If, after taking possession of the field, the gentile sold it to another Jew, the owner cannot expropriate it from the purchaser.

א

עַכּוּ''ם בַּעַל זְרוֹעַ שֶׁאָנַס נִכְסֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיָרַד לְתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ מֵחֲמַת שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ חוֹב עַל בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה אוֹ מֵחֲמַת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ נֵזֶק בְּיַד זֶה הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ מֵחֲמַת שֶׁהִפְסִיד מָמוֹנוֹ. וְאַחַר שֶׁתָּקַף לוֹ אֶת הַשָּׂדֶה מְכָרָהּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אַחֵר. אֵין הַבְּעָלִים יְכוֹלִין לְהוֹצִיא מִיַּד הַלּוֹקֵחַ:

2

When does the above apply? When the owner admits that the gentile who sold the property told the truth, or when two Jewish witnesses substantiate the truth of the gentile's claims.

Similarly, if there was a king or a ruler in that locale who could summon the gentile to court, and the owner did not lodge a claim against him, he cannot expropriate the property from the person who purchased it from the gentile. This applies even though the owner does not admit the truth of the gentile's claim, and even though there are no witnesses that the gentile told the truth. For the purchaser can tell the owner: "If the gentile is a robber, why did you not sue him according to the laws of the land?"

ב

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהוֹדוּ הַבְּעָלִים שֶׁאֱמֶת טָעַן הָעַכּוּ''ם [הַמּוֹכֵר אוֹ יָעִידוּ עֵדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהָאֱמֶת טָעַן הָעַכּוּ''ם] הַמּוֹכֵר. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה שָׁם מֶלֶךְ אוֹ שַׂר בְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם שֶׁיָּכוֹל לָכֹף אֶת הָעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁמָּכַר לְדִין וְלֹא תָּבְעוּ הַבְּעָלִים אֶת הָעַכּוּ''ם אֵינָן יְכוֹלִין לְהוֹצִיא מִיַּד הַלּוֹקֵחַ מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן מוֹדִין לָעַכּוּ''ם וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם עֵדִים שֶׁאֱמֶת טָעַן הָעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהֲרֵי אוֹמֵר הַלּוֹקֵחַ לַבְּעָלִים אִם גַּזְלָן הוּא הָעַכּוּ''ם לָמָּה לֹא תְּבַעְתֶּם אוֹתוֹ בְּדִינֵיהֶם:

3

The following laws apply with regard to gentiles who oppress the Jewish people and seek to kill them, unless they ransom themselves from the gentiles by ceding title to a field or a home, and giving it to the gentiles in return for their release.

When the oppressor desires to sell this land and the owner has the means to purchase the property, he is given priority over all others. If the owner does not have the means to purchase the property, or the property has remained in the possession of the oppressor for more than twelve months, whoever comes first and purchases the property from the oppressor acquires it.

The purchaser must, however, give the original owner a fourth of the land or a third of the funds. For the oppressor sells the land cheaply; since the land is not his, he will sell it for approximately a fourth less than its value. This portion belongs to the original owner, because the reason it was sold cheaply was that it belonged to him.

Therefore, a person who acquires it from the oppressor for 30 zuz must pay 10 to the original owner or give him one fourth of the land. If this is done, the purchaser acquires full title to the land. If he fails to do this, the quarter of the land is considered to be property obtained by robbery.

ג

הָעַכּוּ''ם הַמְּצִיקִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמְבַקְּשִׁים לְהָרְגָם עַד שֶׁיִּפְדֶּה עַצְמוֹ מִיַּד הָעַכּוּ''ם בְּשָׂדֵהוּ אוֹ בְּבֵיתוֹ וְיִתְּנֶנָּה לַמֵּצִיק וְאַחַר כָּךְ יַנִּיחֶנּוּ. כְּשֶׁיִּרְצֶה הַמֵּצִיק לִמְכֹּר אוֹתָהּ הַקַּרְקַע אִם יֵשׁ בְּיַד הַבְּעָלִים לִקַּח מִן הַמֵּצִיק הֵן קוֹדְמִין לְכָל אָדָם. וְאִם אֵין בְּיַד הַבְּעָלִים לִקַּח אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁהָה הַקַּרְקַע בְּיַד הַמֵּצִיק שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם וְלָקַח מִן הַמֵּצִיק זָכָה. וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן לַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים רְבִיעַ הַקַּרְקַע אוֹ שְׁלִישׁ הַמָּעוֹת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֶּה הַמֵּצִיק מוֹכֵר בְּזוֹל הוֹאִיל וְקַרְקַע שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁלּוֹ הוּא מוֹכֵר הֲרֵי זֶה מוֹכֵר בְּפָחוֹת רְבִיעַ אוֹ קָרוֹב לוֹ וְזֶה רְבִיעַ שֶׁל בְּעָלִים שֶׁהֲרֵי מֵחֲמַת שֶׁהִיא שֶׁלָּהֶן מוֹכֵר בְּזוֹל. לְפִיכָךְ הַלּוֹקֵחַ מִן הַמֵּצִיק בִּשְׁלֹשִׁים נוֹתֵן לַבְּעָלִים עֲשָׂרָה אוֹ נוֹתֵן לָהֶם רְבִיעַ הַקַּרְקַע וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִקְנֶה הַכּל. וְאִם לֹא נָתַן הֲרֵי רְבִיעַ הַקַּרְקַע כְּגֵזֶל בְּיָדוֹ:

4

The following rules apply if a squatter enters a field belonging to a colleague without permission and plants trees there. If the field was one appropriate for trees to be planted, we evaluate how much a person would be willing to pay for trees to be planted in this field, and he collects this amount from the owner of the field. If this field is not suitable for planting, the squatter's improvement of the field should be evaluated, and he is judged at a disadvantage.

ד

הַיּוֹרֵד לְתוֹךְ שְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְשׁוּת וּנְטָעָהּ אִם הָיְתָה שָׂדֶה הָעֲשׂוּיָה לִטַּע אוֹמְדִין כַּמָּה אָדָם רוֹצֶה לִתֵּן בְּשָׂדֶה זוֹ לִטְּעָהּ וְנוֹטֵל מִבַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה. וְאִם אֵינָהּ עֲשׂוּיָה לִטַּע שָׁמִין לוֹ וְיָדוֹ עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה:

5

Moreover, if the owner of the field tells the squatter: "Uproot your tree and go," the owner's wishes are heeded.If the squatter says: "I want to uproot my tree," his wishes are not heeded, because uprooting trees weakens the fertility of the land.

ה

אָמַר לוֹ בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה עֲקֹר אִילָנְךָ וְלֵךְ שׁוֹמְעִים לוֹ. אָמַר הַנּוֹטֵעַ הֲרֵינִי עוֹקֵר אִילָנִי אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמַּכְחִישׁ אֶת הַקַּרְקַע:

6

Courtyards are considered to be appropriate for construction and to add homes and lofts. Therefore, the geonim ruled that a squatter who builds in a colleague's courtyard without his consent is regarded like a person who plants trees in a field appropriate for planting. If the building is useful and is appropriate for that courtyard according to the local custom, we evaluate how much a person would give to have such a building constructed and require the owner to pay that sum to the squatter.

ו

הַחֲצֵרוֹת הֲרֵי הֵן רְאוּיִין לְבִנְיָן וּלְהוֹסִיף בָּהֶן בָּתִּים וַעֲלִיּוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ הוֹרוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁהַבּוֹנֶה בַּחֲצַר חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כְּנוֹטֵעַ שָׂדֶה הָעֲשׂוּיָה לִטַּע וְשָׁמִין לוֹ כַּמָּה אָדָם רוֹצֶה לִתֵּן בְּבִנְיָן זֶה לִבְנוֹתוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּבְנֶה בִּנְיָן הַמּוֹעִיל הָרָאוּי לְאוֹתָהּ חָצֵר כְּמִנְהַג אוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם:

7

When a person enters a colleague's field with the latter's permission, his improvement of the field should be evaluated, and he should be given the advantage in evaluating the amount of money due him. This applies even if he planted trees in a field that was unfit for planting.

If his expenses exceed the field's increase in value, he is reimbursed for his expenses. If the field's increase in value exceeds his expenses, he is reimbursed for the field's increase in value.

A husband who tills property belonging to his wife, and a partner who tills a field in which he owns a share are considered to have been given permission to enter the land. Their improvement of the field should be evaluated and they should be given the advantage in evaluating the amount of money due them.

ז

הַיּוֹרֵד לִשְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ בִּרְשׁוּת אֲפִלּוּ נָטַע שָׂדֶה שֶׁאֵינָהּ עֲשׂוּיָה לִטַּע שָׁמִין לוֹ וְיָדוֹ עַל הָעֶלְיוֹנָה. שֶׁאִם הָיְתָה הַהוֹצָאָה יֶתֶר עַל הַשֶּׁבַח נוֹטֵל הַהוֹצָאָה וְאִם הַשֶּׁבַח יֶתֶר עַל הַהוֹצָאָה נוֹטֵל הַשֶּׁבַח. וּבַעַל בְּנִכְסֵי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְהַשֻּׁתָּף בְּשָׂדֶה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק בָּהּ כְּיוֹרֵד בִּרְשׁוּת הֵן וְשָׁמִין לָהֶם וְיָדָם עַל הָעֶלְיוֹנָה:

8

When a squatter enters a field belonging to a colleague without permission and plants trees or builds there and the owner of the field comes afterwards and completes the building or guards the trees planted, or performs any other activity that indicates that he is pleased with the squatter's activity and considers it desirable, the squatter's improvement of the field should be evaluated and he should be given the advantage in evaluating the amount of money due him.

ח

הַיּוֹרֵד לִשְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְשׁוּת וְנָטַע אוֹ בָּנָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ בָּא בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְהִשְׁלִים הַבִּנְיָן אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁמַר הַנְּטִיעוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמַּרְאִין שֶׁדַּעְתּוֹ נוֹטָה לְמַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה זֶה וּבִרְצוֹנוֹ בָּא הַדָּבָר שָׁמִין לוֹ וְיָדוֹ עַל הָעֶלְיוֹנָה:

9

When a squatter enters a ruined building belonging to a colleague and rebuilds it without permission, the improvement he has brought about should be evaluated, and he is judged at a disadvantage.

If the owner of the building says: "I am taking my stones and wood," his words are heeded with regard to a house,but this principle is not applied with regard to a field, for building and destroying a structure in a field weakens the fertility of the land.

If the owner of the land tells him: "Remove what you built,"his words are heeded.

ט

הַיּוֹרֵד לְתוֹךְ חֻרְבָּתוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ וּבְנָאָהּ שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְשׁוּת שָׁמִין לוֹ וְיָדוֹ עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה. וְאִם אָמַר בַּעַל הַבִּנְיָן עֵצַי וַאֲבָנַי אֲנִי נוֹטֵל. בַּבַּיִת שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ. בַּשָּׂדֶה אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמַּכְחִישׁ אֶת הַקַּרְקַע. אָמַר לוֹ בַּעַל הַקַּרְקַע טֹל מַה שֶּׁבָּנִיתָ שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ:

10

Whenever the improvements a person brought about are evaluated - whether he is judged at an advantage or at a disadvantage - he is not entitled to collect any money unless he first takes an oath while holding a sacred object, with regard to the amount of his expenses.

If he says: "Let the judges come and evaluate the expenses. Whatever I spent is in the open. Let them evaluate the worth of the wood, the stones, the mortar, and the wages of the workers according to the lowest standards," his request is accepted, and he is entitled to collect his due without taking an oath. Similarly, if a person collects only the value of the improvement of the property, and he is judged at an advantage, he is not required to take an oath.

י

כָּל מִי שֶׁשָּׁמִין לוֹ בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה יָדוֹ עַל הָעֶלְיוֹנָה בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה יָדוֹ עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה אֵינוֹ נוֹטֵל כְּלוּם עַד שֶׁיִּשָּׁבַע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ כַּמָּה הוֹצִיא. וְאִם אָמַר יָבוֹאוּ הַדַּיָּנִים וְיַעֲשׂוּ שׁוּמַת הַהוֹצָאָה וַהֲרֵי הִיא גְּלוּיָה לְעֵינֵיהֶם וִישַׁעֲרוּ הָעֵצִים וְהָאֲבָנִים וְהַסִּיד וּשְׂכַר הָאֻמָּנִין בַּפָּחוּת שֶׁבַּשְּׁעָרִים שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ וְנוֹטֵל בְּלֹא שְׁבוּעָה. וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁנּוֹטֵל הַשֶּׁבַח בִּלְבַד וְהָיְתָה יָדוֹ עַל הָעֶלְיוֹנָה אֵין צָרִיךְ שְׁבוּעָה:

11

The following rule applies whenever the improvements a person made are to be evaluated and he is entitled to collect money, and the owner of the field claims to have paid him, and the person who tilled the field claims that he did not receive anything. The claim of the person who tilled the field is accepted. He must take an oath that he did not receive anything, and he is entitled to collect his due. For we tell the owner of the field: "An evaluation of what he is due was not made yet. Thus, you did not know how much you were obligated to give. How could you have paid him?"

A different rule applies, however, if the evaluation was already made and the owner of the field was told to pay a specific amount to the person who tilled it. If the owner of the field claims to have paid him, although the person who tilled the field has not taken an oath yet, the claim of the owner is accepted. The owner must take a Rabbinic oath that he paid, and then he is freed of liability. The rationale is that land is always considered to be in the domain of its rightful owner.

יא

כָּל שֶׁשָּׁמִין לוֹ וְנוֹטֵל שֶׁטָּעַן בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְאָמַר נָתַתִּי וְהַיּוֹרֵד לַשָּׂדֶה אוֹמֵר לֹא נָטַלְתִּי. הַיּוֹרֵד נֶאֱמָן וְנִשְׁבָּע שֶׁלֹּא נָתַן לוֹ כְּלוּם וְנוֹטֵל שֶׁהֲרֵי אוֹמְרִין לְבַעַל הַשָּׂדֶה עֲדַיִן לֹא שָׁמוּ לְךָ וְלֹא יָדַעְתָּ כַּמָּה אַתָּה חַיָּב לִתֵּן הֵיאַךְ נָתַתָּ. אֲבָל אִם שָׁמוּ לוֹ וְאָמְרוּ לְבַעַל הַשָּׂדֶה תֵּן לוֹ וְאָמַר נָתַתִּי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא נִשְׁבַּע הַיּוֹרֵד הֲרֵי בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה נֶאֱמָן וְיִשָּׁבַע שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת שֶׁנָּתַן וְיִפָּטֵר. שֶׁהַקַּרְקַע בְּחֶזְקַת בְּעָלֶיהָ:

12

The following laws apply when a husband brings sharecroppers to till property belonging to his wife and then he divorces her. If the husband is himself a sharecropper, their involvement is also terminated when the husband's involvement with the land is terminated, for they agreed to work the field on the husband's invitation. Their improvement of the field should be evaluated, and they are judged at a disadvantage.

If the husband is not a sharecropper and they agreed to work the field because it was necessary, they receive the share that is usually given to a sharecropper.

יב

בַּעַל שֶׁהוֹרִיד אֲרִיסִין בְּנִכְסֵי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ גֵּרְשָׁהּ. אִם הָיָה הַבַּעַל עַצְמוֹ אָרִיס נִסְתַּלֵּק בַּעַל נִסְתַּלְּקוּ אֲרִיסָיו שֶׁלֹּא יָרְדוּ לָהּ אֶלָּא עַל דַּעַת הַבַּעַל. וְשָׁמִין לָהֶם וְיָדָם עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה. וְאִם אֵין הַבַּעַל אָרִיס עַל דַּעַת הַקַּרְקַע יָרְדוּ וְשָׁמִין לָהֶם כְּאָרִיס:

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Eleven

1

It is a positive commandment to return an object lost by a fellow Jew, as Deuteronomy 22:1 states: "And you shall certainly return it."

A person who sees an object lost by a fellow Jew and ignores it, leaving it in its place, transgresses a negative commandment, as it states Ibid.:4: "Do not see your brother's ox... and ignore it." He also negates the fulfillment of a positive commandment. If he returns the object, he fulfills the positive commandment.

א

הֲשָׁבַת אֲבֵדָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב א) "הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֵם". וְהָרוֹאֶה אֲבֵדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנִתְעַלֵּם מִמֶּנָּה וֶהֱנִיחָהּ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב א) "לֹא תִרְאֶה אֶת שׁוֹר אָחִיךָ" (דברים כב א) "וְהִתְעַלַּמְתָּ מֵהֶם". וּבִטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה. וְאִם הֱשִׁיבָהּ קִיֵּם מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה:

2

If a person takes a lost object and does not return it, he negates the fulfillment of a positive commandment and transgresses two negative commandments: "You may not ignore it" Ibid.:3 and Leviticus 19:13: "Do not rob."

Even if the owner of the lost object is wicked and eats non-kosher meat for his own satisfaction and the like, it is a mitzvah to return an object that he lost. If, however, he eats non-kosher meat as a conscious act of rebellion against God, he is considered a non-believer. And just as it is forbidden to return a lost object belonging to a gentile, it is forbidden to return a lost object belonging to a Jew who is a non-believer, heretic, idol-worshiper or violator of the Sabbath in public.

ב

לָקַח אֶת הָאֲבֵדָה וְלֹא הֱשִׁיבָהּ בִּטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה וְעָבַר עַל שְׁנֵי לָאוִין עַל (דברים כב ג) "לֹא תוּכַל לְהִתְעַלֵּם" וְעַל (ויקרא יט יג) "לֹא תִגְזל". אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה בַּעַל הָאֲבֵדָה רָשָׁע וְאוֹכֵל נְבֵלָה לְתֵאָבוֹן וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ מִצְוָה לְהָשִׁיב לוֹ אֲבֵדָתוֹ. אֲבָל אוֹכֵל נְבֵלָה לְהַכְעִיס הֲרֵי הוּא אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹס וְהָאֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִים וְעוֹבְדֵי עַכּוּ''ם וּמְחַלְּלֵי שַׁבָּת בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא אָסוּר לְהַחְזִיר לָהֶן אֲבֵדָה כְּעַכּוּ''ם:

3

It is permissible to keep an object lost by an idolater, for Deuteronomy 22:3 speaks of returning "an object lost by your brother." Indeed, if one returns such an article, one transgresses a prohibition, for one strengthens the power of the wicked peoples of the world. If, however, one returns it to sanctify God's name, so that others will praise the Jewish people and know that they are trustworthy, this is praiseworthy.

When there is a possibility of the desecration of God's name, it is forbidden to keep an object lost by an idolater, and it must be returned. As part of "the ways of peace," we should always bring in their utensils from the outside, lest they be taken by thieves, as we do for utensils owned by Jews.

ג

אֲבֵדַת עוֹבֵד עַכּוּ''ם מֻתֶּרֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב ג) "אֲבֵדַת אָחִיךָ". וְהַמַּחֲזִירָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר עֲבֵרָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מַחֲזִיק יַד רִשְׁעֵי עוֹלָם. וְאִם הֶחֱזִירָהּ לְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת הַשֵּׁם כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּפָאֲרוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיֵדְעוּ שֶׁהֵם בַּעֲלֵי אֱמוּנָה הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח. וּבְמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ חִלּוּל הַשֵּׁם אֲבֵדָתוֹ אֲסוּרָה וְחַיָּב לְהַחְזִירָהּ. וּבְכָל מָקוֹם מַכְנִיסִין כְּלֵיהֶם מִפְּנֵי הַגַּנָּבִים כִּכְלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם:

4

A mistake in accounts made by a gentile is considered like a lost article, and it is permissible to benefit from it. This applies if he makes the mistake himself. It is, however, forbidden to cause him to make a mistake.

ד

טָעוּת הָעַכּוּ''ם כַּאֲבֵדָתוֹ וּמֻתֶּרֶת. וְהוּא שֶׁטָּעָה מֵעַצְמוֹ אֲבָל לְהַטְעוֹתוֹ אָסוּר:

5

What is implied? A gentile made an account and made an error in a Jew's favor. The Jew must tell him: "Look, I am relying on your account. I know only what you tell me." In an instance like this, if the gentile does not correct himself, it is permitted to take advantage of his error. If, however, one does not tell him this, it is forbidden. It is possible that the gentile's intent is to check the Jew's honesty. By keeping the money, one may cause God's name to be desecrated.

ה

כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁעָשָׂה הָעַכּוּ''ם חֶשְׁבּוֹן וְטָעָה. וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאמַר לוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל רְאֵה שֶׁעַל חֶשְׁבּוֹנְךָ אֲנִי סוֹמֵךְ וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אֶלָּא מַה שֶּׁאַתָּה אוֹמֵר אֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ כְּגוֹן זֶה מֻתָּר. אֲבָל אִם לֹא אָמַר לוֹ כֵּן אָסוּר שֶׁמָּא יִתְכַּוֵּן הַגּוֹי לְבָדְקוֹ וְנִמְצָא שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם מִתְחַלֵּל:

6

The following rules apply in a town in which both Jews and gentiles live. If half the inhabitants are Jews and half are gentiles, and a person finds a lost object, he should take it and announce its discovery. If a Jew comes and describes marks by which the object can be identified, the finder is obligated to return it.

ו

עִיר שֶׁיִּשְׂרְאֵלִים וְעַכּוּ''ם דָּרִין בָּהּ וּמֶחֱצָה עַכּוּ''ם וּמֶחֱצָה יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמָצָא בָּהּ אֲבֵדָה נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז. וְאִם בָּא יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתַן סִימָנֶיהָ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר:

7

Different rules apply if the majority of the inhabitants of the city are gentiles. If a Jew finds a lost object in a place where most of the people located there are Jewish, he is obligated to announce its discovery.

If he finds it on a public thoroughfare, a public market place or in a synagogue or a house of study where gentiles are often found, or in any place where many people are found, the finder may keep the object he discovers.

This applies even when another Jew comes and describes marks with which the object can be identified. We assume that the owner despaired of its return when it fell, for he will say: "A gentile found it."

Although a person is entitled to keep a lost article that he discovers, one who wishes to follow a good and an upright path should go beyond the measure of the law and return the lost article to a Jew, if he describes marks with which the object can be identified.

ז

הָיָה רֹב הָעִיר עַכּוּ''ם אִם מָצָא בְּמָקוֹם מִן הָעִיר שֶׁרֹב הַמְּצוּיִים שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. אֲבָל אִם מָצָא בִּסְרַטְיָא וּפְלַטְיָא גְּדוֹלָה בְּבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת וּבְבָתֵּי מִדְרָשׁוֹת שֶׁהָעַכּוּ''ם מְצוּיִין שָׁם תָּמִיד וּבְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהָרַבִּים מְצוּיִין שָׁם הֲרֵי הַמְּצִיאָה שֶׁלּוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ בָּא יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתַן סִימָנֶיהָ. שֶׁהֲרֵי נִתְיָאֵשׁ מִמֶּנָּה כְּשֶׁנָּפְלָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר עַכּוּ''ם מְצָאָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא שֶׁלּוֹ. הָרוֹצֶה לֵילֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטּוֹב וְהַיָּשָׁר וְעוֹשֶׂה לְפָנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין מַחְזִיר אֶת הָאֲבֵדָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּשֶׁיִּתֵּן אֶת סִימָנֶיהָ:

8

If a person finds a jug of wine in a city where the majority of the inhabitants are gentile, it is forbidden to benefit from the wine; the container is permitted as is a lost object. If a Jew comes and describes marks with which the container can be identified, the wine is permitted to be drunk by the person who discovered it.

ח

מָצָא בְּעִיר זוֹ שֶׁרֻבָּהּ עַכּוּ''ם חָבִית שֶׁל יַיִן יֵינָהּ אָסוּר בַּהֲנָאָה וְקַנְקַנָּהּ מֻתָּר מִשּׁוּם אֲבֵדָה. וְאִם בָּא יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתַן סִימָנֶיהָ מֻתָּר בִּשְׁתִיָּה לְזֶה יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמְּצָאָהּ:

9

When a fowl takes a piece of meat and casts it into another field, it is permitted to be kept as is a lost object. This applies even when most of the inhabitants of the town are Jewish, for the owners will have despaired of its return.

ט

עוֹף שֶׁחָטַף בָּשָׂר וְהִשְׁלִיכוֹ בְּחָצֵר אַחֶרֶת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֹב הָעִיר יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר מִשּׁוּם אֲבֵדָה שֶׁהֲרֵי נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים מִמֶּנּוּ:

10

A person who finds a lost article on the bed of the sea or in a flooding river that does not cease may keep it. This applies even if the article has a mark with which it can be identified.

This concept is derived from Deuteronomy 22:3, which commands us to return "an article that one loses and is found," thus excluding an instance as the one above in which the article is lost not only to its owner, but to all men. In such an instance, the owner has surely despaired of its return.

י

הַמּוֹצֵא אֲבֵדָה בְּזוּטוֹ שֶׁל יָם וּבִשְׁלוּלִיתוֹ שֶׁל נָהָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ סִימָן הֲרֵי זוֹ שֶׁל מוֹצְאָהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב ג) "אֲשֶׁר תֹּאבַד מִמֶּנּוּ וּמְצָאתָהּ". מִי שֶׁאֲבוּדָה מִמֶּנּוּ וּמְצוּיָה הִיא אֵצֶל כָּל אָדָם. יָצָאת זוֹ שֶׁאֲבוּדָה מִמֶּנּוּ וּמִכָּל אָדָם שֶׁזֶּה וַדַּאי נִתְיָאֵשׁ מִמֶּנָּה:

11

When a person intentionally abandons his property, there is no need to help him regain it.

What is implied? A person placed his cow in a cowshed that did not have a door. He did not tie it there and he left. Or he tossed his wallet away in the public thoroughfare and left. In all instances of this nature, he is considered to have intentionally abandoned his money. Although the person who saw this is forbidden to take the property himself, he is not obligated to return it.

This is implied by Deuteronomy 22:3, which states: "So shall you do with regard to every lost article belonging to your brother that he loses." The seeming redundancy in the verse excludes an article that is not lost accidentally, but rather intentionally abandoned.

יא

הַמְאַבֵּד מָמוֹנוֹ לְדַעַת אֵין נִזְקָקִין לוֹ. כֵּיצַד. הִנִּיחַ פָּרָתוֹ בְּרֶפֶת שֶׁאֵין לָהּ דֶּלֶת וְלֹא קְשָׁרָהּ וְהָלַךְ לוֹ. הִשְׁלִיךְ כִּיסוֹ בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהָלַךְ לוֹ וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. הֲרֵי זֶה אִבֵּד מָמוֹנוֹ לְדַעְתּוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָסוּר לְרוֹאֶה דָּבָר זֶה לִטּל לְעַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ זָקוּק לְהַחְזִיר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב ג) "אֲשֶׁר תֹּאבַד" פְּרָט לִמְאַבֵּד לְדַעְתּוֹ:

12

When a lost article is not worth a p'rutah, the finder is neither obligated to concern himself with it, nor to return it.

יב

אֲבֵדָה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ שְׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהִטַּפֵּל וְלֹא לְהַחְזִירָהּ:

13

The following rule applies when a person finds a sack or a large basket. If he is a sage or a respected elder, who would not usually carry such articles himself, he is not obligated to concern himself with them.

He should judge his status in the following way. If the article were his own and he would return it, so too, is he obligated to return an article belonging to a colleague. If, however, he would not forgo his honor even if the article were his own, he is not obligated to return a similar article belonging to a colleague.

The following rules apply when he would take such articles in a field, but not in a city. If he finds it in a city, he is not obligated to return it. If he finds it in a field, however, he is obligated to return it to its owner's domain, even though in doing so he will pass through a city, where it is not his habit to carry such articles.

יג

מָצָא שַׂק אוֹ קֻפָּה אִם הָיָה חָכָם אוֹ זָקֵן מְכֻבָּד שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לִטּל כֵּלִים אֵלּוּ בְּיָדוֹ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהִטַּפֵּל בָּהֶן וְאוֹמֵד אֶת דַּעְתּוֹ אִלּוּ הָיוּ שֶׁלּוֹ אִם הָיָה מַחֲזִירָן לְעַצְמוֹ כָּךְ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ. וְאִם לֹא הָיָה מוֹחֵל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה שֶׁלּוֹ כָּךְ בְּשֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר. הָיָה דַּרְכּוֹ לְהַחְזִיר כֵּלִים כָּאֵלּוּ בַּשָּׂדֶה וְאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לְהַחְזִירָן בָּעִיר וּמְצָאָן בָּעִיר אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר. מְצָאָן בַּשָּׂדֶה חַיָּב לְהַחְזִירָן עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעוּ לִרְשׁוּת הַבְּעָלִים. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֲרֵי נִכְנַס בָּהֶן לָעִיר וְאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ בְּכָךְ:

14

Similarly, if a person finds an animal and spurs it on, he becomes obligated to concern himself with it and to return it - even if doing so is not appropriate for his honor - for he began the performance of the mitzvah.

If a person returned an animal and it bolted away, he is obligated to return it again, even if this occurs 100 times. This is alluded to by Deuteronomy 22:1, which states: "And you shall certainly return it." The word השב implies that one must return it even 100 times.

A person who finds a lost animal must care for it until he returns it to a place where it is secure in its owner's domain. If he returns it to a place that is not secure - e.g., the person's garden or his ruin and it becomes lost again - he is responsible for the animal.

יד

וְכֵן אִם מָצָא בְּהֵמָה וְהִכִּישָׁהּ נִתְחַיֵּב לְהִטַּפֵּל בָּהּ וּלְהַחֲזִירָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ לְפִי כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי הִתְחִיל בַּמִּצְוָה. הֶחֱזִירָהּ וּבָרְחָה אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה פְּעָמִים חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב א) "הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֵם" הָשֵׁב אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה פְּעָמִים מַשְׁמָעוֹ. לְעוֹלָם הוּא חַיָּב לְהִטַּפֵּל בָּהּ עַד שֶׁיַּחֲזִירֶנָּהּ לִרְשׁוּת בְּעָלֶיהָ לְמָקוֹם הַמִּשְׁתַּמֵּר. אֲבָל אִם הֶחֱזִירָהּ לְמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין מִשְׁתַּמֵּר כְּגוֹן גִּנָּה וְחֻרְבָּה וְאָבְדָה מִשָּׁם חַיָּב בְּאַחֲרָיוּתָהּ:

15

If a person who discovered a lost article returns it in the morning to a place where its owners enter and leave each morning, he is not obligated to concern himself with it any more. For the owner will certainly see it. This applies even if it is placed in a location that is not secure.

When does the above apply? To any article that is not alive. A live animal, by contrast, must be cared for by the finder until it is returned to a secure place in the owner's domain. The owner need not be notified.

טו

הֶחְזִיר אֶת הָאֲבֵדָה בְּשַׁחֲרִית לְמָקוֹם שֶׁהַבְּעָלִים נִכְנָסִין וְיוֹצְאִין שָׁם בְּשַׁחֲרִית אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהִטַּפֵּל בָּהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי הַבְּעָלִים רוֹאִין אוֹתָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִשְׁתַּמֵּר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּדָבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ רוּחַ חַיִּים. אֲבָל בְּבַעֲלֵי חַיִּים לְעוֹלָם חַיָּב לְהִטַּפֵּל בָּהּ עַד שֶׁיַּכְנִיסֶנָּה לִרְשׁוּת הַבְּעָלִים הַמִּשְׁתַּמֶּרֶת. וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ דַּעַת בְּעָלִים:

16

If a person sees an animal that has escaped from its corral and he returns it to its place, he has fulfilled the mitzvah. The owner need not be notified.

טז

רָאָה בְּהֵמָה שֶׁבָּרְחָה מִן הַדִּיר וְהֶחֱזִירָהּ לִמְקוֹמָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה קִיֵּם הַמִּצְוָה וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ דַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים:

17

A person who seeks to follow a good and upright path and go beyond the measure of the law should return a lost article at all times, even if it is unbecoming to his dignity.

יז

הַהוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטּוֹב וְהַיָּשָׁר וְעוֹשֶׂה לִפְנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין מַחְזִיר אֶת הָאֲבֵדָה בְּכָל מָקוֹם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ לְפִי כְּבוֹדוֹ:

18

When a priest sees a lost object in a cemetery, he should not make himself impure so that he can return it. The rationale is that at the time the priest would fulfill the mitzvah of returning a lost object, he would nullify the positive commandment "Be holy" Leviticus 21:6 and transgress the negative commandment: "A man may not defile himself for a corpse among his people ibid.:4." And the observance of a positive commandment never supersedes a negative commandment that is reinforced by a positive commandment.

יח

כֹּהֵן שֶׁרָאָה הָאֲבֵדָה בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת אֵינוֹ מִטַּמֵּא לְהַחְזִירָהּ שֶׁבְּעֵת שֶׁמְּקַיֵּם מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל הֶשֵּׁב אֲבֵדָה מְבַטֵּל עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל (ויקרא כא ו) "קְדשִׁים יִהְיוּ" וְעוֹבֵר עַל לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁל (ויקרא כא ד) "לֹא יִטַּמָּא בַּעַל בְּעַמָּיו" וְאֵין עֲשֵׂה דּוֹחֶה אֶת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה וַעֲשֵׂה:

19

If a person sees a lost object and his father tells him "Do not return it," he should return it instead of obeying his father. For by obeying his father and fulfilling the positive commandment "Honor your father" Exodus 20:12, he nullifies the positive commandment "And you shall certainly return it," and transgresses the negative commandment "You may not ignore it."

יט

רָאָה אֶת הָאֲבֵדָה וְאָמַר לוֹ אָבִיו אַל תַּחְזִירֶנָּה יַחְזִיר וְלֹא יְקַבֵּל מִמֶּנּוּ. שֶׁאִם קִבֵּל מֵאָבִיו נִמְצָא בְּעֵת שֶׁקִּיֵּם מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל (שמות כ יב) (דברים ה טז) "כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ" בִּטֵּל עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל (דברים כב א) "הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֵם" וְעָבַר עַל (דברים כב ג) "לֹא תוּכַל לְהִתְעַלֵּם":

20

When a person sees flood waters coming that will ruin a building or a field belonging to a colleague, he is obligated to put up a barrier before them to check the waters. This is implied by the mention (Deuteronomy 22:3) of "All objects lost by your colleague." "All" also includes the devastation of landed property.

כ

הָרוֹאֶה מַיִם שׁוֹטְפִין וּבָאִין לְהַשְׁחִית בִּנְיַן חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שָׂדֵהוּ חַיָּב לִגְדֹּר בִּפְנֵיהֶם וּלְמָנְעָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב ג) "לְכָל אֲבֵדַת אָחִיךָ" לְרַבּוֹת אֲבֵדַת קַרְקָעוֹ:

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Twelve

1

The following rules apply when a person loses an article and then discovers his own lost article and that belonging to a colleague. If it is possible for him to return both, he should return both. If it is possible for him to return only one, his lost object takes priority, even over a lost object belonging to his father or his teacher. His own lost object takes priority over that of any other person.

א

מִי שֶׁאָבְדָה לוֹ אֲבֵדָה וּפָגַע בַּאֲבֵדָתוֹ וַאֲבֵדַת חֲבֵרוֹ אִם יָכוֹל לְהַחְזִיר שְׁתֵּיהֶן חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר שְׁתֵּיהֶן וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַחְזִיר אֶלָּא אַחַת מֵהֶן אֲבֵדָתוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת וַאֲפִלּוּ לַאֲבֵדַת אָבִיו אוֹ שֶׁל רַבּוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ קוֹדֵם לְכָל אָדָם:

2

The following rules apply when a person discovers both a lost article belonging to his teacher and one belonging to his father and is capable of returning only one of them. If his father is equal in wisdom to his teacher, his father's lost object takes precedence. If not, his teacher's takes precedence. This applies provided we are speaking about his primary teacher, the one from whom he gained the majority of his Torah wisdom.

ב

פָּגַע בַּאֲבֵדַת רַבּוֹ עִם אֲבֵדַת אָבִיו אִם הָיָה אָבִיו שָׁקוּל כְּנֶגֶד רַבּוֹ שֶׁל אָבִיו קוֹדֶמֶת וְאִם לָאו שֶׁל רַבּוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רַבּוֹ מֻבְהָק שֶׁרֹב חָכְמָתוֹ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה מִמֶּנּוּ לָמַד:

3

If a person ignores his own lost article and instead returns the article belonging to his colleague, he is entitled only to the wage due him for his efforts.

What is implied? A river washed away his donkey and a donkey belonging to a colleague. His donkey was worth 100 zuz, while his colleague's was worth 200. If, instead of saving his own, he saved his colleague's, he should be reimbursed only for the wages due him for his efforts.

If he told his colleague - or made this condition in the presence of a court - "I will save your donkey, but you must reimburse me for my own," the colleague is obligated to reimburse him for his donkey. This applies even if the other donkey ascends from the river afterwards on its own. Since its owner did nothing to help it, the other person should be awarded the sum that he stipulated.

ג

הֵנִיחַ אֲבֵדָתוֹ וְהֶחְזִיר אֲבֵדַת חֲבֵרוֹ אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא שָׂכָר הָרָאוּי לוֹ. כֵּיצַד. שָׁטַף נָהָר חֲמוֹרוֹ וַחֲמוֹר חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ יָפֶה מָנֶה וְשֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ מָאתַיִם. הִנִּיחַ אֶת שֶׁלּוֹ וְהִצִּיל אֶת שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא שְׂכָרוֹ הָרָאוּי לוֹ. וְאִם אָמַר לוֹ אַצִּיל אֶת שֶׁלְּךָ וְאַתָּה נוֹתֵן לִי דְּמֵי שֶׁלִּי אוֹ שֶׁהִתְנָה בִּפְנֵי בֵּית דִּין חַיָּב לִתֵּן לוֹ דְּמֵי שֶׁלּוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחֲמוֹרוֹ עָלָה מֵאֵלָיו. הוֹאִיל וְלֹא נִתְעַסֵּק בּוֹ זָכָה בְּמַה שֶּׁהִתְנָה עִמּוֹ:

4

If the owner of the other donkey attempted to save the more valuable donkey, but was not successful, he should be given only the wage fit to be paid him.

Similarly, if a person was occupied with his work, and he negated work that was worth a dinar to return a lost article worth 100 dinarim, he may not tell the owner: "Give me the dinar that I lost," but rather the owner should pay him as an unemployed worker of the trade in which he is employed. If he stipulated to the owner or in the presence of a court that he should receive the amount that he lost, and they agreed, he may collect it. If the owner or a court is not present, his own concerns take precedence.

ד

יָרַד לְהַצִּיל וְלֹא הִצִּיל אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא שְׂכָרוֹ הָרָאוּי לוֹ. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה עוֹסֵק בִּמְלָאכָה וּבִטֵּל מִמְּלַאכְתּוֹ שֶׁשָּׁוָה דִּינָר וְהֶחְזִיר אֲבֵדָה שֶׁשָּׁוָה מֵאָה דִּינָר לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ תֵּן לִי דִּינָר שֶׁהִפְסַדְתִּי אֶלָּא נוֹתֵן לוֹ שְׂכָרוֹ כְּפוֹעֵל בָּטֵל שֶׁיִּבָּטֵל מֵאוֹתָהּ מְלָאכָה שֶׁהָיָה עוֹסֵק בָּהּ. וְאִם הִתְנָה עִם הַבְּעָלִים אוֹ בִּפְנֵי בֵּית דִּין שֶׁיִּטּל מַה שֶּׁיַּפְסִיד וְהִרְשׁוּהוּ הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹטֵל. וְאִם אֵין שָׁם בְּעָלִים וְלֹא בֵּית דִּין שֶׁלּוֹ קוֹדֵם:

5

Similar laws apply when two people are progressing on a road, and one was carrying a jug of wine, and the other a jug of honey. If the jug of honey cracks and before the honey spills to the ground, the other person pours out his wine and collects the honey in his jug, he should be given only the wage he is fit to be paid.

If he tells the owner of the honey: "I will save your honey, if you pay me for my wine," or he makes such a stipulation in the presence of a court, the owner of the honey is obligated to pay him.

If the honey spills to the ground, it is considered ownerless, and whoever takes it, takes it as his own.

ה

וְכֵן שְׁנַיִם שֶׁהָיוּ בָּאִים בְּדֶרֶךְ זֶה בְּחָבִית שֶׁל יַיִן וְזֶה בְּכַד שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ וְנִסְדַּק הַכַּד שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ וְקֹדֶם שֶׁיִּשָּׁפֵךְ הַדְּבַשׁ לָאָרֶץ שָׁפַךְ זֶה אֶת יֵינוֹ וְהִצִּיל אֶת הַדְּבַשׁ לְתוֹךְ הֶחָבִית אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא שְׂכָרוֹ הָרָאוּי לוֹ. וְאִם אָמַר אַצִּיל אֶת שֶׁלְּךָ וְאַתָּה נוֹתֵן לִי דָּמִי שֶׁלִּי אוֹ שֶׁהִתְנָה בִּפְנֵי בֵּית דִּין הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לִתֵּן לוֹ. וְאִם נִשְׁפַּךְ הַדְּבַשׁ לָאָרֶץ הֲרֵי זֶה הֶפְקֵר וְכָל הַמַּצִּיל לְעַצְמוֹ מַצִּיל:

6

Different rules apply if one person is carrying a jug of honey and his jug cracks, while another person was carrying empty jars. If the owner of the empty jars tells the owner of the honey: "I will not save this honey with my jars unless you give me half," "... a third," or "... so and so many dinarim," the owner of the honey is not obligated to keep this agreement. Even if he agrees, he is considered to have spoken facetiously and is not obligated to pay him more than the wage he is fit to be paid. The rationale is that he did not cause him any loss.

ו

הָיָה זֶה בָּא בְּכַד שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ וְזֶה בָּא בְּקַנְקַנִּים רֵיקָנִים וְנִסְדְּקָה כַּד הַדְּבַשׁ וְאָמַר לוֹ בַּעַל הַקַּנְקַנִּים אֵינִי מַצִּיל לְךָ דְּבַשׁ זֶה בְּקַנְקַנַּי עַד שֶׁתִּתֵּן לִי חֶצְיוֹ אוֹ שְׁלִישׁוֹ אוֹ כָּךְ וְכָךְ דִּינָרִין וְקִבֵּל עָלָיו בַּעַל הַדְּבַשׁ וְאָמַר לוֹ הֵן הֲרֵי זֶה שָׂחַק בּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ נוֹתֵן לוֹ אֶלָּא שְׂכָרוֹ הָרָאוּי לוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא הִפְסִידוֹ כְּלוּם:

7

Similar rules apply if a person was fleeing from prison and there was a raft near him. If he told the owner of the raft: "Take me across the river and I will pay you a dinar," and the raft owner takes him across the river, the fugitive is required to pay the raft owner only the wage he is fit to be paid.

If the raft owner was a fisherman, and the fugitive told him, "Stop fishing and take me across the river," the fugitive must pay him whatever he stipulates. The same principles apply in all analogous situations.

ז

וְכֵן מִי שֶׁבָּרַח מִבֵּית הָאֲסוּרִים וְהָיְתָה מַעְבֹּרֶת לְפָנָיו וְאָמַר לוֹ הַעֲבִירֵנִי וַאֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ דִּינָר וְהֶעֱבִירוֹ אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא שְׂכָרוֹ הָרָאוּי לוֹ. וְאִם הָיָה צַיָּד וְאָמַר לוֹ בַּטֵּל מְצוּדָתְךָ וְהַעֲבִירֵנִי נוֹתֵן לוֹ כָּל מַה שֶּׁהִתְנָה עִמּוֹ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

8

The following rules apply when a caravan was traveling in a desert and they were confronted and attacked by an armed force. If the travelers cannot rescue their property from that force and one of them exerts himself and rescues everyone's property, he has rescued it for himself.

If the other members of the caravan can rescue their property, and one of them exerted himself and rescued all the property first, it should be divided among its rightful owners. This applies even if the one who rescued the property stated: "I am rescuing it for myself."

ח

שַׁיָּרָא שֶׁהָיְתָה הוֹלֶכֶת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְעָמַד עָלֶיהָ גַּיִס וּטְרָפָהּ אִם אֵינָן יְכוֹלִין לְהַצִּיל מִיָּדָם וְעָמַד אֶחָד מֵהֶן וְהִצִּיל הִצִּיל לְעַצְמוֹ. וְאִם יְכוֹלִין הֵן לְהַצִּיל מִיָּדָם וְקָדַם אֶחָד מֵהֶן וְהִצִּיל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר לְעַצְמִי אֲנִי מַצִּיל הִצִּיל לָאֶמְצַע:

9

Different rules apply if it was possible for the owners to rescue their property with difficulty. If one person rescues all the property, it should be divided among its rightful owners. But if the one who rescues the property states: "I am rescuing it for myself," he is allowed to keep it as his own.

The rationale is that the other owners heard him say: "I am rescuing it for myself." Accordingly, they should have exerted themselves to rescue their property. Since they chose to sit still and not attempt to rescue it, we may conclude that they had despaired of its recovery.

ט

הָיוּ יְכוֹלִין לְהַצִּיל עַל יְדֵי הַדְּחָק כָּל הַמַּצִּיל מַצִּיל לָאֶמְצַע אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן אָמַר לְעַצְמִי אֲנִי מַצִּיל הֲרֵי זֶה מַצִּיל לְעַצְמוֹ. שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁשְּׁמָעוּהוּ אוֹמֵר לְעַצְמִי אֲנִי מַצִּיל הָיָה לָהֶן לִדְחֹק עַצְמָן וּלְהַצִּיל וְכֵיוָן שֶׁיָּשְׁבוּ וְלֹא הִצִּילוּ הֲרֵי נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ מִן הַכּל:

10

Similarly, if two partners were traveling with goods and were attacked, and one of them rescues the goods, the property still belongs to the partnership. If he states: "I am rescuing it for myself," he has dissolved the partnership and is allowed to keep the goods as his own.

By the same logic, if a person hires a worker to rescue goods from a situation of certain loss, whatever he rescues belongs to the employer. If the worker says: "I am rescuing it for myself," he is terminating his employment. Whatever he rescues after making this statement belongs to him.

י

הָיוּ שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין וְהִצִּיל אֶחָד מֵהֶן הִצִּיל לָאֶמְצַע. וְאִם אָמַר לְעַצְמִי אֲנִי מַצִּיל הֲרֵי זֶה חָלַק מֵחֲבֵרוֹ וְהִצִּיל לְעַצְמוֹ. וְכֵן הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֶת הַפּוֹעֵל לְהַצִּיל כָּל שֶׁיַּצִּיל הֲרֵי הוּא לַמַּשְׂכִּיר וְאִם אָמַר לְעַצְמִי אֲנִי מַצִּיל הֲרֵי זֶה חוֹזֵר בּוֹ מִן הַשְּׂכִירוּת וְכָל שֶׁיַּצִּיל אַחַר שֶׁאָמַר כֵּן הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁלּוֹ:

11

The following rule applies when a caravan was camped in the desert and an armed force was poised to attack them. If they agreed to pay a ransom to the armed force, the ratio of each person's payment should be determined according to the value of the person's goods and not levied equally by head.

If they hired a guide to lead them on the journey, both the value of the persons' goods and the number of people should be considered when determining everyone's share of his wage. One should not, however, deviate from the standard practice followed by donkey-drivers.

יא

שַׁיָּרָא שֶׁחָנְתָה בַּמִּדְבָּר וְעָמַד עָלֶיהָ גַּיִס לְטָרְפָהּ וּפָסְקוּ עִם הַגַּיִס מָמוֹן וְנָתְנוּ לוֹ. מְחַשְּׁבִין לְפִי מָמוֹנָם וְאֵין מְחַשְּׁבִין לְפִי נְפָשׁוֹת. וְאִם שָׂכְרוּ תַּיָּר לִפְנֵיהֶם לְהוֹדִיעָם הַדֶּרֶךְ מְחַשְּׁבִין שְׂכָרוֹ לְפִי מָמוֹן וּלְפִי נְפָשׁוֹת. וְאַל יְשַׁנּוּ מִמִּנְהַג הַחַמָּרִים:

12

Donkey-drivers may make an agreement among themselves saying that if one of the members of a caravan loses his donkey, the entire caravan must combine to provide another donkey for him. If he was negligent, and therefore it was lost, they are not obligated to provide a donkey for him.

יב

רַשָּׁאִין הַחַמָּרִים לְהַתְנוֹת בֵּינֵיהֶן כָּל מִי שֶׁתֹּאבַד מִמֶּנּוּ חֲמוֹר מִבְּנֵי הַשַּׁיָּרָא מַעֲמִידִין לוֹ חֲמוֹר אַחֶרֶת. וְאִם פָּשַׁע בָּהּ הוּא וְאָבְדָה אֵין חַיָּבִין לְהַעֲמִיד לוֹ:

13

If a person's donkey was lost and he said: "Pay me its value. I do not want another donkey. I will, however, guard together with you as if I had one," his request is not heeded. Instead, another donkey is purchased for him so that he will be diligent and guard his donkey.

Even if he already owns another donkey in the caravan his request is not heeded. The rationale is that the diligence shown by a person watching one donkey cannot be compared to that of a person watching two.

יג

אָבְדָה חֲמוֹרוֹ וְאָמַר תְּנוּ לִי דָּמֶיהָ וְאֵינִי רוֹצֶה לִקַּח חֲמוֹר וַהֲרֵינִי שׁוֹמֵר עִמָּכֶם אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ אֶלָּא מַעֲמִידִין לוֹ חֲמוֹר אַחֶרֶת כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּזְדָּרֵז עַצְמוֹ וְיִשְׁמֹר בְּהֶמְתּוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה לוֹ בְּהֵמָה אַחֶרֶת בַּשַּׁיָּרָא אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה שׁוֹמֵר אַחַת לְשׁוֹמֵר שְׁתַּיִם:

14

When a ship was traveling in the sea and a decision was made to reduce its cargo because waves threatened to sink it, the calculation is made according to the weight of each person's goods and not their value. One should not, however, deviate from the standard practice followed by seamen.

יד

סְפִינָה שֶׁהָיְתָה מְהַלֶּכֶת בַּיָּם וְעָמַד עָלֶיהָ נַחְשׁוֹל לְטַבְּעָהּ וְהֵקֵלּוּ מִמַּשָּׂאָהּ. מְחַשְּׁבִין לְפִי מַשּׂאוֹי וְאֵין מְחַשְּׁבִין לְפִי מָמוֹן. וְאַל יְשַׁנּוּ מִמִּנְהַג הַסַּפָּנִים:

15

Boatmen may make an agreement among themselves saying that if one of them loses his boat, they will combine to provide another boat for him. If he was negligent and therefore it was lost, or he sailed his boat in a region where boats do not travel at that time of year, they are not obligated to provide a boat for him.

טו

רַשָּׁאִין הַסַּפָּנִים לְהַתְנוֹת בֵּינֵיהֶן כָּל מִי שֶׁתֹּאבַד לוֹ סְפִינָה מַעֲמִידִים לוֹ סְפִינָה אַחֶרֶת. פָּשַׁע בָּהּ וְאָבְדָה אוֹ שֶׁפֵּרַשׁ לְמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין הַסְּפִינוֹת הוֹלְכוֹת בּוֹ בְּאוֹתוֹ הַזְּמַן אֵין חַיָּבִין לְהַעֲמִיד לוֹ:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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