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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Sixteen, Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Seventeen, Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Eighteen

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Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Sixteen

1

The following laws apply if a person finds needles, spits, nails or the like. If he finds them one at a time, he may keep them. If he finds them in sets of two or more, he is obligated to announce [their discovery, for the number of articles found is a mark by which they can be identified.

א

הַמּוֹצֵא מְחָטִים וְצִנּוֹרוֹת וּמַסְמְרִים וְכַיּוֹצא בָּהֶן אִם מְצָאָם אֶחָד אֶחָד הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם אוֹ יֶתֶר חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז שֶׁמִּנְיָן סִימָן:

2

Similarly, if one finds scattered coins, he may keep them. Even if some of the coins are lying on each other, they are considered to be scattered. If, however, one finds a collection of coins, he must announce their discovery.

For example, if he found three coins placed one on top of the other like a tower, or there was one to the right, one to the left and one on top of both of them, or they were placed in succession, each one lying slightly on the other, so that if a sliver of wood were placed under them he would be able to pick them all up at one time, he is obligated to announce their discovery.

If they were placed in a circle, a line, like a tripod, like steps, the matter is one of doubt. Therefore, at the outset, one should not take them.

ב

וְכֵן הַמּוֹצֵא מָעוֹת מְפֻזָּרִים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ מִקְצָת מַטְבְּעוֹת זֶה עַל גַּבֵּי זֶה הֲרֵי הֵן כִּמְפֻזָּרִין. אֲבָל אִם מָצָא צִבּוּר מָעוֹת חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. מָצָא שְׁלֹשָׁה מַטְבְּעוֹת זֶה עַל גַּב זֶה וְהֵן עֲשׂוּיִין כְּמִגְדָּל. אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ אֶחָד מִיכַּן וְאֶחָד מִיכַּן וְאֶחָד עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן. אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ מִקְצָת זֶה עַל מִקְצָת זֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁאִם יַכְנִיס קֵיסָם בֵּינֵיהֶן יִנָּטְלוּ בְּבַת אַחַת חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. הָיוּ עֲשׂוּיִים כְּשִׁיר אוֹ כְּשׁוּרָה אוֹ כַּחֲצוּבָה אוֹ כְּסֻלָּם הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק וְלֹא יִטּל:

3

If a person finds money in a wallet or an empty wallet, he is obligated to announce its discovery. If he found a wallet with money scattered before it, he may keep the money. If, however, it appears that the wallet and the money belong to the same person and that the money fell from the wallet, he must announce its discovery.

ג

הַמּוֹצֵא מָעוֹת בַּכִּיס אוֹ כִּיס כְּמוֹת שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. מָצָא כִּיס וּלְפָנָיו מָעוֹת מְפֻזָּרִים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. וְאִם מַרְאִין הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁהַכִּיס וְהַמָּעוֹת שֶׁל אָדָם אֶחָד וּמִן הַכִּיס נָפְלוּ חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז:

4

The following rules apply when a person finds money in a store. If the money is found between the counter and the storekeeper, it must be given to the storekeeper. If it is found on the counter, and needless to say, if it is found on the outside of the counter, it may be kept by the finder.

Why does the store not acquire the money on behalf of its owner? Because it is not a protected courtyard. Therefore, even though the owner was present, to acquire the money, the owner would have to say: "May my store acquire it on my behalf," as will be explained.

ד

הַמּוֹצֵא מָעוֹת בַּחֲנוּת אִם הָיוּ בֵּין תֵּבָה לַחֶנְוָנִי הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁל בַּעַל הַחֲנוּת. וְאִם מְצָאָן עַל הַתֵּבָה וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר מִתֵּבָה וְלַחוּץ הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁל מוֹצְאָן. וְלָמָּה לֹא תִּקְנֶה הַחֲנוּת לִבְעָלֶיהָ לְפִי שֶׁאֵינָהּ חָצֵר הַמִּשְׁתַּמֶּרֶת. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבְּעָלֶיהָ בְּתוֹכָהּ צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר תִּקְנֶה לִי חֲנוּתִי כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

5

The following rules apply when a person finds money in a store of a moneychanger. If the money is found between the counter and the moneychanger, it must be given to the moneychanger.

If the money was found on the counter, even if it was wrapped in a purse and placed on the table, it may be kept by the finder, provided the majority of the clientele are gentiles, as we have explained. If, however, the majority of the clientele are Jewish, the finder must announce the discovery. Since they are wrapped in a purse, they have a mark by which they can be identified.

ה

מָצָא מָעוֹת בַּחֲנוּת הַשֻּׁלְחָנִי בֵּין כִּסֵּא לַשֻּׁלְחָנִי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁל שֻׁלְחָנִי. מְצָאָן עַל הַכִּסֵּא לִפְנֵי הַשֻּׁלְחָנִי אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ צְרוּרִין וּמֻנָּחִין עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁל מוֹצְאָן. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ רֹב עַכּוּ''ם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ רֹב יִשְׂרָאֵל חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן צְרוּרִים יֵשׁ לָהֶם סִימָן:

6

When a person purchases produce from a colleague or a colleague sends him produce, and he finds money wrapped in a purse among the produce, he must announce the discovery. If the money is scattered, he may keep it.

When does the above apply? When one receives the produce from a merchant or from a private individual who purchased it from a merchant. If, however, a private individual threshed produce himself or had his Canaanite servants and maidservants do so, the finder is obligated to return the money to him.

ו

הַלּוֹקֵחַ פֵּרוֹת מֵחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁלַח לוֹ חֲבֵרוֹ פֵּרוֹת וּמָצָא בְּתוֹכָן מָעוֹת צְרוּרוֹת נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז. מְצָאָן מְפֻזָּרוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיוּ הַפֵּרוֹת מִן הַתַּגָּר אוֹ מִבַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁלְּקָחָן מִן הַתַּגָּר. אֲבָל אִם בַּעַל הַבַּיִת דָּשׁ הַפֵּרוֹת לְעַצְמוֹ אוֹ עַל יְדֵי עֲבָדָיו וְשִׁפְחוֹתָיו הַכְּנַעֲנִים הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר:

7

When a person finds a buried treasure in a mound or in an old wall, it belongs to him, for we assume that it belonged to ancient Amorites. This applies provided he finds the treasure buried very low, as would be common for ancient valuables.

If, however, it appears that the treasure was recently placed there, even if he has doubts concerning the matter, he should not touch it, for perhaps it was intentionally placed there.

ז

הַמּוֹצֵא מַטְמוֹן בְּגַל אוֹ בְּכֹתֶל יָשָׁן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁאֲנִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁל אֱמוֹרִיִּים הַקַּדְמוֹנִים הֵן. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּמְצָאֵם מַטָּה מַטָּה כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הַמַּטְמוֹנוֹת הַיְשָׁנוֹת. אֲבָל אִם מַרְאִין הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן מַטְמוֹן חָדָשׁ אֲפִלּוּ נִסְתַּפֵּק לוֹ הַדָּבָר הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִגַּע בָּהֶן שֶׁמָּא מֻנָּחִים הֵם שָׁם:

8

Since a person's domain can acquire property on his behalf without his knowledge, as will be explained, why does the owner of this courtyard not acquire the treasure buried within the old wall even if it originally belonged to the Amorites, and thus he would become its legal owner?

The rationale is that the treasure was not known about by him or by others. Thus, it was "lost to him and to all others." Therefore, it belongs to the finder.

Our Sages derived this concept as follows: With regard to a lost object, the Torah Deuteronomy 22:3 states: "That is lost by him and found." This refers to an article that the owner lost, but others can find, thus excluding an article that fell into the sea and is "lost to him and all others." Surely, this applies to an ancient treasure that the person never owned. It is certainly "lost to him and all others." Therefore, it belongs to the finder.

ח

וְהוֹאִיל וַחֲצֵרוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם קוֹנָה לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לָמָּה לֹא יִקְנֶה בַּעַל הֶחָצֵר זֶה הַמַּטְמוֹן שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ הַכֹּתֶל הַיָּשָׁן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא שֶׁל אֱמוֹרִיִּים וְתִהְיֶה מְצִיאָה זוֹ לְבַעַל הֶחָצֵר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָדוּעַ לוֹ וְלֹא לַאֲחֵרִים וַהֲרֵי זֶה הַמַּטְמוֹן אָבוּד מִמֶּנּוּ וּמִכָּל אָדָם וּלְפִיכָךְ הוּא שֶׁל מוֹצְאוֹ. וּמַה אֲבֵדָה שֶׁל אָדָם אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה (דברים כב ג) "אֲשֶׁר תֹּאבַד מִמֶּנּוּ וּמְצָאתָהּ" מִי שֶׁאֲבוּדָה מִמֶּנּוּ וּמְצוּיָה אֵצֶל כָּל אָדָם יָצָאת זוֹ שֶׁנָּפְלָה לַיָּם שֶׁאֲבוּדָה מִמֶּנּוּ וּמִכָּל אָדָם קַל וָחֹמֶר לְמַטְמוֹן קַדְמוֹנִי שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה שֶׁלּוֹ מֵעוֹלָם וְהוּא אָבוּד מִמֶּנּוּ וּמִכָּל אָדָם לְפִיכָךְ הוּא שֶׁל מוֹצְאוֹ:

9

The following laws apply if a person finds a treasure in a new wall. If the manner in which the treasure was found indicates that it belongs to the owner, it is given to the owner. If the manner in which the treasure was found indicates that it belongs to a passerby from the marketplace, it is awarded to the finder.

What is implied? For example, with regard to a knife, its handle is the determining factor. With regard to a wallet, its opening is the determining factor. If the wall was filled with such articles, they should be divided between the owner and the finder.

ט

מָצָא מַטְמוֹן בְּכֹתֶל חָדָשׁ אִם הַמַּטְמוֹן מוֹכִיחַ שֶׁהוּא לְבַעַל הַבַּיִת הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁלּוֹ וְאִם מוֹכִיחַ שֶׁהוּא שֶׁל אַחֵר מִן הַשּׁוּק הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁל מוֹצְאוֹ. כֵּיצַד. הַסַּכִּין הֲרֵי הַנִּצָּב שֶׁלּוֹ מוֹכִיחַ. וְהַכִּיס פִּיו מוֹכִיחַ. וְאִם נִמְצָא תּוֹךְ הַכֹּתֶל מָלֵא מֵהֶן חוֹלְקִין:

10

The following rules should be adhered to if the wall contains money or pieces of gold that do not have a factor that indicates who placed them there. If they are halfway or more to the outer side of the wall, they belong to the finder. If they are halfway or more to inner side, they belong to the owner.

י

הָיוּ בְּתוֹךְ הַכֹּתֶל מָעוֹת אוֹ לְשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁל זָהָב שֶׁאֵין שָׁם מוֹכִיחַ. מֵחֶצְיוֹ וְלַחוּץ שֶׁל מוֹצֵא. מֵחֶצְיוֹ וּלְפָנִים שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת:

11

It appears to me that the above applies only when the owner claims that the buried treasure belongs to him, or he is an heir and we claim on his behalf that perhaps it belonged to his father. If, however, he admits that this is a lost article, it belongs to the finder.

Therefore, if the person rents out his house to others, the article belongs to the last renter.

If he rented the domain to three gentiles at the same time, he is considered to have made it an inn. Therefore, anything found in the walls, or even within the house itself belongs to the finder. For no one can claim that the article belongs to him or that it was buried, because the domain has been made an inn.

יא

וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁאֵין הַדְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁטָּעַן בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁהַמַּטְמוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה יוֹרֵשׁ שֶׁאָנוּ טוֹעֲנִין לוֹ שֶׁמָּא שֶׁל אָבִיו הֵן. אֲבָל אִם הוֹדָה שֶׁהֵן מְצִיאָה הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁל מוֹצֵא. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיָה מַשְׂכִּיר בֵּיתוֹ לַאֲחֵרִים הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁל שׂוֹכֵר אַחֲרוֹן. וְאִם הִשְׂכִּירוֹ לִשְׁלֹשָׁה עַכּוּ''ם כְּאֶחָד הֲרֵי עֲשָׂאָהוּ פֻּנְדָּק וְכָל הַנִּמְצָא בּוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁל מוֹצְאָן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין אֶחָד יָכוֹל לִטְעֹן שֶׁהֵן שֶׁלּוֹ אוֹ שֶׁהוּא טָמַן שֶׁהֲרֵי עֲשָׂאָהוּ פֻּנְדָּק:

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Seventeen

1

Whenever we have said that the finder acquires the lost article he discovers, it does not become his property until it reaches his hand or his domain. If, however, he sees a lost article - even if he falls upon it - and then another person comes and takes hold of it, the person who takes hold of it acquires it.

א

כָּל מְצִיאָה שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ בָּהּ שֶׁהִיא שֶׁל מוֹצְאָהּ אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה בָּהּ עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ לְיָדוֹ אוֹ לִרְשׁוּתוֹ. אֲבָל אִם רָאָה אֶת הַמְּצִיאָה אֲפִלּוּ נָפַל עָלֶיהָ וּבָא אַחֵר וְהֶחֱזִיק בָּהּ הֲרֵי זֶה שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בָּהּ זָכָה בָּהּ:

2

If a person was riding on an animal and he saw a lost article and told a colleague, "Acquire it on my behalf," when the colleague lifts it up for him, the rider acquires it, although the rider himself did not take possession of it.

If the rider told his colleague: "Give it to me," and the colleague takes it and then says, "I acquired it for myself," the person who took it is granted possession. If, however, he gives it to the rider and then claims to have taken possession of it for himself, his words are of no consequence.

ב

הָיָה רוֹכֵב עַל גַּבֵּי בְּהֵמָה וְרָאָה אֶת הַמְּצִיאָה וְאָמַר לַחֲבֵרוֹ זְכֵה לִי בָּהּ כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגְבִּיהָהּ לוֹ קָנָה הָרוֹכֵב וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ לְיָדוֹ. וְאִם אָמַר לוֹ תְּנָה לִי וּנְטָלָהּ וְאָמַר אֲנִי זָכִיתִי בָּהּ זָכָה בָּהּ הַנּוֹטֵל. וְאִם מִשֶּׁנְּתָנָהּ לָרוֹכֵב אָמַר אֲנִי זָכִיתִי בָּהּ תְּחִלָּה לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם:

3

When a person lifts up a lost object on behalf of a colleague, the colleague acquires it, although the colleague did not tell the finder anything.

When two people lift up a lost article together, they both acquire it.

ג

הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ מְצִיאָה לַחֲבֵרוֹ קָנָה חֲבֵרוֹ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לוֹ כְּלוּם [זָכָה בָּהּ]. הִגְבִּיהוּ הַמְּצִיאָה שְׁנַיִם קְנָאוּהָ שְׁנֵיהֶם:

4

When a deaf mute, a mentally incompetent person or a minor lifts up an article on behalf of a mentally competent individual, the mentally competent individual does not acquire the article. For these three types of individuals are not considered of sufficient mental capacity to acquire an article on behalf of another person.

If a deaf mute and a mentally competent individual lift up an article together neither acquires it. For since the mentally competent individual does not acquire a share, the deaf mute also does not acquire a share.

If both of the people who pick up an article are deaf mutes, our Sages ordained that they should acquire it to prevent strife from arising.

ד

הִגְבִּיהָהּ לוֹ חֵרֵשׁ אוֹ שׁוֹטֶה אוֹ קָטָן לֹא קָנָה הַפִּקֵּחַ לְפִי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן דַּעַת. הִגְבִּיהָהּ חֵרֵשׁ וּפִקֵּחַ כְּאֶחָד מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁלֹּא קָנָה פִּקֵּחַ לֹא קָנָה חֵרֵשׁ. הָיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם חֵרְשִׁים תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּקְנוּ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹאוּ לְהִנָּצוֹת:

5

When two people see an ownerless camel or donkey and both rush and lead it, or both draw it after them, or one leads it and one draws it after himself, they both acquire it.

When does the above apply? With regard to a donkey. With regard to a camel, by contrast, if one leads it and one draws it after himself, the one that draws it after himself acquires it, and not the one that leads it.

ה

שְׁנַיִם שֶׁרָאוּ גָּמָל אוֹ חֲמוֹר שֶׁל מְצִיאָה וְקָדְמוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם וְהִנְהִיגוּהוּ אוֹ מְשָׁכוּהוּ. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה אֶחָד מַנְהִיג וְאֶחָד מוֹשֵׁךְ. קָנוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בַּחֲמוֹר אֲבָל בְּגָמָל אִם הָיָה אֶחָד מַנְהִיג וְאֶחָד מוֹשֵׁךְ הַמּוֹשֵׁךְ קָנָה אֲבָל לֹא הַמַּנְהִיג:

6

When a person rushes and grabs the reins of an ownerless animal, he does not acquire it until he draws it after him or leads it. The same applies with regard to an animal belonging to the estate of a convert who died without an heir. He does, however, acquire the reins themselves.

ו

בֶּהֱמַת מְצִיאָה שֶׁקָּדַם אֶחָד וְאָחַז בַּמּוֹסֵרָה לֹא קָנָה עַד שֶׁיִּמְשֹׁךְ אוֹ יַנְהִיג. וְכֵן בְּנִכְסֵי הַגֵּר. אֲבָל קָנָה הַמּוֹסֵרָה לְבַדָּהּ:

7

The following rules apply when one person rides on an ownerless animal and one holds its reins. The rider acquires the animal and the portion of its reins attached to its cheeks. The one holding the reins acquires the portion that he is holding, and the remainder of the reins are not acquired by either one.

ז

הָיָה אֶחָד רוֹכֵב וְאֶחָד אוֹחֵז בַּמּוֹסֵרָה הָרוֹכֵב קָנָה הַבְּהֵמָה וְהַמּוֹסֵרָה שֶׁעַל לְחָיֵי הַבְּהֵמָה בִּלְבַד. וְזֶה שֶׁאָחַז הַמּוֹסֵרָה קָנָה מִמֶּנָּה מַה שֶּׁאָחַז בְּיָדוֹ. וּשְׁאָר הַמּוֹסֵרָה לֹא קָנָהוּ אֶחָד מֵהֶן:

8

A person's courtyard can acquire property for him without his being aware of it. Thus, if a lost object falls into a person's courtyard, he acquires it.

When does the above apply? When the courtyard is protected. When, by contrast, a lost article enters a person's field or garden different rules apply. If he is standing at the side of his field and says, "May my field acquire it for me," he acquires it. If, however, he is not standing there, or he is standing there but does not make such a statement he does not acquire it, and the one who takes possession first becomes the owner of the lost article.

Similarly, the area within a radius of four cubits next to the place where a person is standing can acquire property for him like his own courtyard. If a lost object comes into these four cubits, he acquires it.

ח

חֲצֵרוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם קוֹנָה לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ. וְאִם נָפְלָה בָּהּ מְצִיאָה הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁל בַּעַל הֶחָצֵר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּחָצֵר הַמִּשְׁתַּמֶּרֶת. אֲבָל בְּשָׂדֶה וְגִנָּה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אִם הָיָה עוֹמֵד בְּצַד שָׂדֵהוּ וְאָמַר זָכְתָה לִי שָׂדִי זָכָה בָּהּ. וְאִם אֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד שָׁם אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה עוֹמֵד וְלֹא אָמַר זָכְתָה לִי שָׂדִי כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם זָכָה. וְכֵן אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁל אָדָם שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד בְּצִדָּן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ קוֹנִים לוֹ. וְאִם הִגִּיעָה הַמְּצִיאָה לְתוֹךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ זָכָה בָּהּ:

9

Our Sages ordained this convention so that people who discover lost articles should not come to strife.

When is this convention employed? In an alleyway or at the sides of the public domain, which are not crowded with many people, or in a field that is ownerless. When, however, a person stands in the public domain or in a field belonging to a colleague, the area within a radius of four cubits cannot acquire property on his behalf. In such a place, he cannot acquire a lost article until it reaches his hand.

ט

חֲכָמִים תִּקְּנוּ דָּבָר זֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָרִיבוּ הַמּוֹצְאִין זֶה עִם זֶה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּסִמְטָא אוֹ בְּצִדֵּי רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים שֶׁאֵין הָרַבִּים דּוֹחֲקִין בָּהֶן אוֹ בְּשָׂדֶה שֶׁאֵין לוֹ בְּעָלִים. אֲבָל הָעוֹמֵד בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ בְּתוֹךְ שְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ אֵין אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת קוֹנוֹת לוֹ וְאֵינוֹ קוֹנֶה שָׁם עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ מְצִיאָה לְיָדוֹ:

10

A female minor may acquire an article by virtue of its presence in her courtyard or within the area within a radius of four cubits of her. A male minor, by contrast, may not acquire an article by virtue of its presence in his courtyard or within the area within a radius of four cubits of him.

The rationale for these laws is that we derive the concept that a female minor may acquire property by virtue of its presence in her courtyard from the fact that she is able to acquire an article that is placed in her hand. For just as she can be divorced by virtue of a bill of divorce being placed in her hand, so too, can she be divorced by virtue of a bill of divorce being placed in her courtyard. And just as her courtyard is effective with regard to the acquisition of a bill of divorce, so too, it is effective with regard to the acquisition of a lost object. From this we also conclude that she may acquire an article by virtue of its presence in the area within a radius of four cubits of her, for this area is considered her courtyard with regard to the acquisition of a lost article.

The potential for a man to acquire property by virtue of its presence in his courtyard is derived, by contrast, from the fact that he is able to acquire an article via an agent. Just as an agent can acquire an article for him, so too, can he acquire an article by virtue of its presence in his courtyard. Since a male minor is incapable of charging an agent to act on his behalf, so too, he cannot acquire an article by virtue of its presence in his courtyard or in the radius of four cubits around him; it must reach his hand.

י

קְטַנָּה יֵשׁ לָהּ חָצֵר וְיֵשׁ לָהּ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. וְקָטָן אֵין לוֹ חָצֵר וְאֵין לוֹ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחָצֵר שֶׁל קְטַנָּה מִיָּדָהּ לְמַדְנוּהָ. שֶׁכְּשֵׁם שֶׁהִיא מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת בְּגֵט הַמַּגִּיעַ לְיָדָהּ כָּךְ מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת בְּגֵט הַמַּגִּיעַ לַחֲצֵרָהּ. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ חָצֵר לְעִנְיַן הַגֵּט כָּךְ יֵשׁ לָהּ לְעִנְיַן מְצִיאָה. וְאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁל אָדָם כַּחֲצֵרוֹ לְעִנְיַן מְצִיאָה. אֲבָל הָאִישׁ לָמַדְנוּ שֶׁחֲצֵרוֹ קוֹנָה לוֹ מִשְּׁלוּחוֹ. כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁקּוֹנֶה לוֹ שְׁלוּחוֹ כָּךְ תִּקְנֶה לוֹ חֲצֵרוֹ. וְהַקָּטָן הוֹאִיל וְאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלִיחַ כָּךְ אֵין חֲצֵרוֹ וְלֹא אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ קוֹנִין לוֹ עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ מְצִיאָה לְיָדוֹ:

11

The following rules apply when a person sees other people chasing an ownerless [animal that is moving - e.g., a wounded deer or young doves that cannot fly in his property. When the following conditions are met: he was standing at the side of his field, the animals were on his property, and he could catch them if he ran, he can acquire them by virtue of their presence in his field if he states: "May my field acquire them for me."

If he cannot catch the animals, they are like a deer that runs normally and doves that can fly, and his words are of no substance. Instead, whoever catches them first acquires them.

If they were given to him as a present, since another person transferred ownership of them to him, and they are moving in his field, he acquires them by virtue of their presence in his field. Even if they were given as a present, if the deer can run normally and the doves can fly, he cannot acquire them by virtue of their presence in his field.

יא

מִי שֶׁרָאָה אֲחֵרִים רָצִים אַחַר הַמְּצִיאָה וַהֲרֵי הִיא צְבִי שָׁבוּר אוֹ גּוֹזָלוֹת שֶׁלֹּא פָּרְחוּ. אִם הָיָה עוֹמֵד בְּצַד שָׂדֵהוּ שֶׁהֵן בְּתוֹכָהּ וְאִלּוּ הָיָה רָץ הָיָה מַגִּיעָן וְאָמַר זָכְתָה לִי שָׂדִי זָכְתָה לוֹ שָׂדֵהוּ. וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַגִּיעָן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כִּצְבִי שֶׁהוּא רָץ כְּדַרְכּוֹ וּכְגוֹזָלוֹת הַמַּפְרִיחִים וְלֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם אֶלָּא כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם בָּהֶן זָכָה. וְאִם נִתְּנוּ לוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה הוֹאִיל וְאַחֵר הִקְנָם לוֹ וַהֲרֵי הֵן מִתְגַּלְגְּלִין בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ קָנְתָה לוֹ שָׂדֵהוּ וְאִם הָיָה צְבִי רָץ כְּדַרְכּוֹ וְגוֹזָלוֹת מַפְרִיחִין לֹא קָנְתָה לוֹ שָׂדֵהוּ:

12

As a reflection of the paths of peace, the prohibition against robbery applies to a lost object taken by a deaf mute, a mentally incompetent individual and a minor.

As such, if a person transgresses and robs such an article from one of these individuals, it cannot be expropriated from him by legal process. If he denies taking the article and takes an oath to that effect, he is not liable to pay an additional fifth.

יב

מְצִיאַת חֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן יֵשׁ בָּהּ גֵּזֶל מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם. לְפִיכָךְ אִם עָבַר אַחֵר וּגְזָלָהּ מִיָּדָן אֵינָהּ יוֹצְאָה בְּדַיָּנִים. וְאִם כָּפַר בָּהּ וְנִשְׁבַּע אֵינוֹ חַיָּב בְּחֹמֶשׁ:

13

A person acquires a lost article discovered by the following individuals: a) his son or his daughter who derive their livelihood from his household, even though they are past majority,

b) his daughter who is a na'arah," even if she does not derive her livelihood from his household - indeed, even if she has been sold as a maidservant,

c) his Canaanite servants and maidservants,

d) his wife.

A person does not, however, acquire a lost object discovered by a son who does not derive his livelihood from his father's household even if he is a minor, his Jewish servants and maidservants, and his wife who has been divorced, even if there are doubts concerning the validity of the divorce.

יג

מְצִיאַת בְּנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ הַסְּמוּכִים עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן גְּדוֹלִים וּמְצִיאַת בִּתּוֹ הַנַּעֲרָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ סוֹמֶכֶת עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה מְכוּרָה אַמָּה וּמְצִיאַת עַבְדּוֹ וְשִׁפְחָתוֹ הַכְּנַעֲנִים וּמְצִיאַת אִשְׁתּוֹ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. אֲבָל מְצִיאַת בְּנוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ סוֹמֵךְ עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא קָטָן וּמְצִיאַת עַבְדּוֹ וְשִׁפְחָתוֹ הָעִבְרִים וּמְצִיאַת אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁהִיא מְגֹרֶשֶׁת וְאֵינָהּ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת כָּל אֵלּוּ הַמְּצִיאוֹת אֵינָן שֶׁלּוֹ:

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Eighteen

1

When a person finds a promissory note, he should not return it. This applies even if the note does not explicitly say that it creates a lien on the debtor's landed property, the presumed debtor acknowledges his obligation, and the signatures of the witnesses have been validated.

The rationale is that we suspect that the note was already paid, and the creditor and the debtor are joining together to deceive the purchasers of the debtor's landed property and expropriate that property unlawfully. This is the reason why the debtor acknowledges the creditor's claim. For the creditor can expropriate property sold by the debtor with this promissory note, even though it does not explicitly say that it creates a lien on the debtor's landed property.

We follow the principle that the omission of a clause mentioning the creation of a lien on the debtor's landed property in a legal document is merely a scribal error. This applies with regard to both promissory notes and deeds of sale.

Therefore, if the promissory note states explicitly that it does not create a lien on the landed property, and the debtor acknowledges his obligation, the note may be returned. If not, the finder should not return it, lest it have been paid.

א

הַמּוֹצֵא שְׁטַר חוֹב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרֵשׁ בּוֹ אַחֲרָיוּת נְכָסִים וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַחַיָּב מוֹדֶה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מְקֻיָּם הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יַחְזִיר. שֶׁמָּא פְּרָעוֹ וּקְנוּנְיָא הֵם עוֹשִׂים כְּדֵי לִטְרֹף לָקוֹחוֹת שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין וּלְפִיכָךְ הוֹדָה לוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי יֵשׁ לוֹ לִטְרֹף בִּשְׁטָר שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרֵשׁ בּוֹ אַחֲרָיוּת. שֶׁהָאַחֲרָיוּת שֶׁלֹּא נִתְפָּרְשָׁה טָעוּת סוֹפֵר הוּא בֵּין בְּשִׁטְרֵי הַלְוָאָה בֵּין בְּשִׁטְרֵי מִקָּח וּמִמְכָּר. לְפִיכָךְ אִם פֵּרֵשׁ בִּשְׁטָר זֶה שֶׁהוּא שֶׁלֹּא בְּאַחֲרָיוּת אִם הָיָה הַחַיָּב מוֹדֶה יַחְזִיר וְאִם לָאו לֹא יַחְזִיר שֶׁמָּא פְּרָעוֹ:

2

Similarly, if a promissory note was dated on the day it was found, the signatures of the witnesses have been validated, and the debtor acknowledges his obligation, it may be returned to the creditor. If, however, the signatures of the witnesses have not been validated, it should not be returned, lest the debtor had the note written in the expectation of borrowing, but did not borrow yet.

ב

וְכֵן אִם מָצָא שְׁטָר שֶׁזְּמַנּוֹ בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם וְהָיָה מְקֻיָּם וְהַחַיָּב מוֹדֶה יַחְזִיר. וְאִם אֵינוֹ מְקֻיָּם לֹא יַחְזִיר שֶׁמָּא כָּתַב לִלְווֹת וַעֲדַיִן לֹא לָוָה:

3

If a promissory note is found in a leather container, a wooden vessel or the like, it should be returned to a claimant who can identify it by a mark.

If three promissory notes are found wrapped together in one bundle, placed one on top of the other or tied together, they should be returned to a claimant who can identify them by a mark.

ג

מָצָא שְׁטָר בְּחֵמֶת אוֹ בִּכְלִי עֵץ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה יַחְזִיר לְמִי שֶׁנָּתַן סִימָן. מָצָא שְׁלֹשָׁה שְׁטָרוֹת כְּרוּכִין בְּכֶרֶךְ אֶחָד אוֹ מֻנָּחִין זֶה עַל זֶה וַאֲגוּדִים אֶגֶד אֶחָד יַחְזִיר לְמִי שֶׁנָּתַן סִימָן:

4

If three promissory notes were found together and they mention one borrower and three different lenders, the notes should be returned to the borrower if the signatures of the witnesses have been validated. If the signatures of the witnesses have not been validated, the notes should be returned to whoever can identify them by a mark. For perhaps the lenders gave their promissory notes to a scribe to validate the signatures of the witnesses, and they fell from the possession of the judge.

If the notes mention one lender and three borrowers, they should be returned to the lender. If the three were written by one scribe, they should be returned to the person who can identify it by a mark. For it is possible that the three borrowers brought their documents to one scribe to write, and the documents fell from his hand.

ד

הָיָה הַלּוֶֹה אֶחָד וְהַמַּלְוִים שְׁלֹשָׁה אִם מְקֻיָּמִים הֵם יַחְזִיר לַלּוֶֹה. וְאִם לָאו יַחְזִיר לְמִי שֶׁנָּתַן סִימָן שֶׁמָּא הַמַּלְוִים נָתְנוּ שְׁטָרוֹתֵיהֶן לַסּוֹפֵר לְקַיְּמָן וְנָפְלוּ מִיַּד הַדַּיָּן. הָיָה הַמַּלְוֶה אֶחָד וְהַלְוִיִּם שְׁלֹשָׁה יַחְזִיר לַמַּלְוֶה. וְאִם הָיוּ שְׁלָשְׁתָּן בִּכְתַב יְדֵי סוֹפֵר אֶחָד יַחְזִיר לְמִי שֶׁנָּתַן סִימָן. שֶׁמָּא שְׁלָשְׁתָּן הוֹלִיכוּ שִׁטְרֵיהֶן לַסּוֹפֵר לִכְתֹּב וְנָפְלוּ מִיַּד הַסּוֹפֵר:

5

If a person found several torn legal documents and among them a promissory note that was not torn, he should not return it. If together with these documents was a receipt for the promissory note, even if the receipt was not signed by witnesses, the promissory note should be returned to the borrower. Had it not been paid, the lender would not have placed it among torn legal documents, and moreover, there is a document stating that it was paid.

ה

מָצָא שְׁטָרוֹת קְרוּעִין וּשְׁטַר חוֹב בֵּינֵיהֶן לֹא יַחְזִיר. וְאִם יֵשׁ עִמָּהֶן שׁוֹבֵר אֲפִלּוּ בְּלֹא עֵדִים יִתֵּן שְׁטַר הַחוֹב לַלּוֶֹה. שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא הָיָה פָּרוּעַ לֹא הִשְׁלִיכוֹ בֵּין שְׁטָרוֹת קְרוּעִים וַהֲרֵי יֵשׁ עִמּוֹ כְּתָב שֶׁהוּא פָּרוּעַ:

6

The following rules apply when a person finds a bill of divorce. If the husband acknowledges divorcing his wife, the document should be returned to the woman. If the husband does not acknowledge divorcing his wife, but the woman identifies the bill of divorce with a distinctive mark, it should be given her. If she cannot, it should not be returned to either of them.

If the husband claims that it fell from his hand, and he was able to identify it with marks, and the wife claims that it fell from her hand, and she was also able to identify it with marks, it should be given to her, provided she mentions a distinctive mark - e.g., there is a hole in the parchment next to a particular letter. The rationale is had the bill of divorce not reached her hand, she would not know of this matter.

ו

מָצָא גִּטֵּי נָשִׁים בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַבַּעַל מוֹדֶה יַחְזִיר לָאִשָּׁה. אֵין הַבַּעַל מוֹדֶה אִם נָתְנָה הָאִשָּׁה סִימָן מֻבְהָק יִנָּתֵן לָהּ וְאִם לָאו לֹא יַחְזִיר לֹא לָזֶה וְלֹא לָזֶה. אָמַר הַבַּעַל מִיָּדִי נָפַל וְנָתַן סִימָנָיו וְהָאִשָּׁה אוֹמֶרֶת מִיָּדִי נָפַל וְנָתְנָה סִימָנָיו יִנָּתֵן לָהּ. וְהוּא שֶׁתִּתֵּן סִימָן מֻבְהָק כְּגוֹן שֶׁאָמְרָה נֶקֶב יֵשׁ בְּצַד אוֹת פְּלוֹנִית. שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא הִגִּיעַ לְיָדָהּ לֹא הָיְתָה יוֹדַעַת:

7

If the husband identifies a bill of divorce by describing the signs of the string with which it was tied, and his wife provides the same description, it should be given to her, provided she provides a distinctive mark - the measure of the length of the string. If, however, she merely states that it was red or black, this is not considered a distinctive mark.

If the husband identifies a bill of divorce by stating that it was held in a leather container, and his wife provides the same description, it should be given to him, because this is not considered a distinctive mark.

ז

הוּא אוֹמֵר סִימָנֵי הַחוּט שֶׁקָּשַׁר בּוֹ הַגֵּט וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת סִימָנֵי הַחוּט יִנָּתֵן לָהּ. וְהוּא שֶׁתֹּאמַר סִימָן מֻבְהָק כְּגוֹן אֹרֶךְ מִדַּת הַחוּט. אֲבָל אִם אָמְרָה אָדֹם אוֹ שָׁחוֹר הוּא אֵין זֶה סִימָן מֻבְהָק. הוּא אוֹמֵר בְּחֵמֶת הָיָה מֻנָּח וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת בְּחֵמֶת הָיָה מֻנָּח יִנָּתֵן לוֹ שֶׁאֵין זֶה סִימָן מֻבְהָק:

8

When a person finds a legal document freeing a Canaanite servant, he should return it to the servant if the master acknowledges having given it. If the master does not acknowledge having given it, the finder should not return it to either of them.

ח

מָצָא גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר בִּזְמַן שֶׁהָרַב מוֹדֶה יַחְזִיר לָעֶבֶד. אֵין הָרַב מוֹדֶה לֹא יַחְזִיר לֹא לָזֶה וְלֹא לָזֶה:

9

The following rules apply if a legal document recording a present is found. If the present was given when the giver was healthy, the document should not be returned even though both the giver and the recipient acknowledge that the gift was given. The rationale is that perhaps the giver originally had the document composed with the intention of giving the present. After having the document composed, however, he sold the field or gave it to another person as a present. He then recanted and now acknowledges the original document in order to deceive the person to whom he later sold the field or gave it to as a present.

If the present was given by a person on his deathbed, and the giver acknowledges the gift, it should be given to the recipient. If he does not acknowledge it, it should not be given. The rationale is that if a person on his deathbed gives a present, and then retracts it and gives it to another person, the latter one acquires it, as will be explained.

ט

מָצָא שְׁטַר מַתָּנָה אִם מַתְּנַת בָּרִיא הִיא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם מוֹדִים לֹא יַחְזִיר לֹא לָזֶה וְלֹא לָזֶה. שֶׁמָּא כָּתַב לִתֵּן וְלֹא נָתַן וְאַחַר שֶׁכָּתַב שְׁטָר זֶה מָכַר שָׂדֶה זוֹ אוֹ נְתָנָהּ לְאַחֵר בְּמַתָּנָה וְחָזַר בּוֹ. וְזֶה שֶׁמּוֹדֶה לָזֶה כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת קְנוּנְיָא עַל הָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ אוֹ שֶׁמָּכַר לוֹ. וְאִם מַתְּנַת שְׁכִיב מֵרַע הִיא אִם הוֹדָה יִתֵּן וְאִם לָאו לֹא יִתֵּן. שֶׁשְּׁכִיב מֵרַע שֶׁנָּתַן לִשְׁנַיִם זֶה אַחַר זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן קָנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

10

If the man who gave the present when he was dying passes away, the document should not be returned, neither to the recipient, nor to the heir. This applies even if the heir acknowledges that his testator gave this gift. The rationale is that perhaps the testator originally had the document composed with the intention of giving the present, but did not do so. After the testator's death, the heir sold the property or gave it to another person as a present. He then recanted and now desires to join together with the original recipient in order to take the property away from the latter recipient.

י

מֵת שְׁכִיב מֵרַע שֶׁנְּתָנָהּ בְּמַתָּנָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַיּוֹרֵשׁ מוֹדֶה שֶׁמּוֹרִישׁוֹ נְתָנָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יַחְזִיר לֹא לָזֶה וְלֹא לָזֶה. שֶׁמָּא כָּתַב לִתֵּן וְלֹא נָתַן וּמְכָרָהּ הַיּוֹרֵשׁ אוֹ נְתָנָהּ וְחָזַר בּוֹ וַהֲרֵי הוּא רוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת קְנוּנְיָא עִם זֶה כְּדֵי לְהַפְקִיעַ נִכְסֵי זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן:

11

If a person finds a receipt, and the person to whom the promissory note was written admits that his note is no longer viable - e.g., it has been paid or he waived payment - the receipt should be given to its owner. If both the creditor and the debtor do not acknowledge the validity of the receipt, the receipt should not be given to either of them.

יא

מָצָא שׁוֹבֵר בִּזְמַן שֶׁבַּעַל הַשְּׁטָר מוֹדֶה שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּר שְׁטָרוֹ וּפְרָעוֹ אוֹ מְחָלוֹ יִתֵּן לְבַעַל הַשּׁוֹבֵר. אֵין שְׁנֵיהֶם מוֹדִים לֹא יַחְזִיר לֹא לָזֶה וְלֹא לָזֶה:

12

If a woman's marriage contract is found, it should not be returned to the woman even if both she and her husband acknowledge that the money due her by virtue of her marriage contract has not been paid. The rationale is that we suspect that the money due her by virtue of her marriage contract has been paid, or that she waived her right to it, afterwards the husband sold his property, and he wants to deceive the purchasers.

יב

מָצָא כְּתֻבָּה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם מוֹדִים לֹא יַחְזִיר לָאִשָּׁה שֶׁמָּא נִפְרְעָה כְּתֻבָּה זוֹ אוֹ נִמְחֲלָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ מָכַר הַבַּעַל נְכָסָיו וַהֲרֵי הוּא רוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת קְנוּנְיָא עַל הַלָּקוֹחוֹת:

13

All the following legal documents should be returned to their owners if found: a document recording the worth of a debtor's property as evaluated by the court, a document recording a court's decision to sell a man's property to provide for the sustenance of his wife and/or daughters, a document recording a chalitzah or mi'un, a document recording the judge's recollection of the claims made by each of the litigants, a document recording the litigants' choice of judges who they desire to preside over a certain litigation, or any document recording a final judicial act.

The general principle is: Whenever a legal document involves a monetary obligation, and there is room to suspect that the obligation has been met, the document should not be returned, lest the obligation have in fact been met. Even when the debtor admits that the debt is outstanding, if it is possible that he is making that admission to deceive a purchaser or a recipient of a present who acquired the debtor's property after the date mentioned on the document, so that the creditor could expropriate the property from them dishonestly, the document should not be returned although both the creditor and the debtor acknowledge the debt.

When, however, there is no reason to suspect that a monetary obligation has been repaid or that deception is being perpetrated, a legal document should be returned.

יג

מָצָא אִגְּרוֹת שׁוּם וְאִגְּרוֹת מָזוֹן שִׁטְרֵי חֲלִיצָה וּמֵאוּנִין וְשִׁטְרֵי טְעָנוֹת שֶׁכּוֹתְבִין הַדַּיָּנִין שֶׁל בַּעַל דִּין זֶה וְשֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁמָּצָא שִׁטְרֵי בֵּרוּרִים וְהֵם הַשְּׁטָרוֹת שֶׁבֵּרְרוּ לָהֶן בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִין אֶת הַדַּיָּנִין שֶׁדָּנִין לָהֶם וְקִבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁיָּדוּנוּ לָהֶם פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי. אוֹ שֶׁמָּצָא כָּל מַעֲשֵׂה בֵּית דִּין. הֲרֵי זֶה יַחְזִיר. כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר כָּל שְׁטָר שֶׁחוֹשְׁשִׁין בּוֹ לְפֵרָעוֹן לֹא יַחְזִיר שֶׁמָּא נִפְרַע הַחוֹב. וְאִם הָיָה הַחַיָּב מוֹדֶה וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁהוֹדָה כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת קְנוּנְיָא עַד שֶׁיַּפְסִיד אֶת הַלּוֹקֵחַ אוֹ מְקַבֵּל מַתָּנָה שֶׁלְּקָחוֹ אַחַר זְמַן הַשְּׁטָר כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּפְרְעוּ מִיָּדָם שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יַחְזִיר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם מוֹדִים. וְכָל שְׁטָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ צַד לַחֲשָׁשׁ לֹא לְפֵרָעוֹן וְלֹא לִקְנוּנְיָא יַחְזִיר לִבְעָלָיו:

14

Whenever the law is that a legal document should not be returned, and the document was nevertheless returned, the document is considered acceptable and may be used to expropriate property.These documents should not be taken away from their owners. We assume that they are acceptable, and we harbor no suspicions about them.

This, with God's help, concludes the laws of robbery and the return of lost objects.

יד

כָּל הַשְּׁטָרוֹת הַנִּמְצָאִים שֶׁדִּינָן שֶׁלֹּא יַחְזִיר אִם הֶחְזִיר הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְּשֵׁרִים וְגוֹבִין בָּהֶן וְאֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָן מִתַּחַת יַד בַּעֲלֵיהֶן וַהֲרֵי הֵם בְּחֶזְקָתָן וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהֶם: סְלִיקוּ לְהוּ הִלְכוֹת גְּזֵלָה וַאֲבֵדָה בְּסַ''ד

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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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