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ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Seventeen

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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:

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Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.
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 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.
Download Rambam Study Schedules: 3 Chapters | 1 Chapter | Daily Mitzvah