1

Whenever a person finds an article that appears to have been intentionally placed down, it is forbidden for him to touch it. This applies whether or not it has a mark by which it can be identified.

The rationale is that perhaps the owner of the article left it there until he returns. Thus, if the finder takes it he will have ill-treated the owner. If the article does not have a mark by which it can be identified, he has purposefully caused his colleague financial loss, for the article does not have a mark that will enable it to be identified and returned. Even if it has a mark, he has wronged him, for he has troubled him to search for the article and identify it by its marks. Therefore, it is forbidden for the finder to touch it, unless it appears to have fallen.

Even if the finder is in doubt and does not know whether the article was lost or placed down, he should not touch it. If he transgressed and took it, he is forbidden to return it to its place. If it is an article that does not have a mark by which it can be identified, the finder acquires it; he is not obligated to return it.

א

כָּל הַמּוֹצֵא אֲבֵדָה בֵּין שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ סִימָן בֵּין שִׁאִין בָּהּ סִימָן אִם מְצָאָהּ דֶּרֶךְ הַנָּחָה אָסוּר לִגַּע בָּהּ שֶׁמָּא בְּעָלֶיהָ הִנִּיחוּהָ שָׁם עַד שֶׁיַּחְזְרוּ לָהּ וְאִם יָבוֹא לִטְּלֶנָּה וְהָיָה דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ סִימָן הֲרֵי אִבֵּד מָמוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין לוֹ בָּהּ סִימָן לְהַחְזִיר בּוֹ. וְאִם הָיָה דָּבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ סִימָן הֲרֵי זֶה הִטְרִיחָן לִרְדֹּף אַחֲרֶיהָ וְלָתֵת סִימָנֶיהָ. וּלְפִיכָךְ אָסוּר לוֹ שֶׁיִּגַּע בָּהּ עַד שֶׁיִּמְצָאֶנָּה דֶּרֶךְ נְפִילָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ נִסְתַּפֵּק לוֹ הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָדַע אִם דָּבָר זֶה אָבוּד אוֹ מֻנָּח הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִגַּע בּוֹ. וְאִם עָבַר וּנְטָלוֹ אָסוּר לוֹ לְהַחְזִירוֹ לְשָׁם. וְאִם הָיָה דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ סִימָן זָכָה בּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִירוֹ:

2

Whenever a person takes an article that can be identified with a mark, whether originally it had been placed down or had dropped, whether in a private domain or in the public domain, he is obligated to announce its discovery.

What is meant by an article that appears to have been intentionally placed down? If a person finds a donkey or a cow pasturing on the road during the day, or he finds a utensil buried in a garbage heap, he should not touch them, for Deuteronomy 22:1, the verse that commands the return of a lost object, speaks of an ox or a sheep "going astray" in the way.

If, however, he found a donkey with its gear overturned, a cow running through vineyards or a utensil lying openly in a garbage heap, it is considered a lost article. It should be taken and its discovery announced.

ב

וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ סִימָן בֵּין בְּדֶרֶךְ הַנָּחָה בֵּין בְּדֶרֶךְ נְפִילָה בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. כֵּיצַד. דֶּרֶךְ הַנָּחָה כְּגוֹן שֶׁמָּצָא חֲמוֹר אוֹ פָּרָה רוֹעִים בַּדֶּרֶךְ בַּיּוֹם אוֹ שֶׁמָּצָא כְּלִי מְכֻסֶּה בָּאַשְׁפָּה הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִגַּע בָּהֶן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב א) "נִדָּחִים בַּדֶּרֶךְ". אֲבָל אִם מָצָא חֲמוֹר וְכֵלָיו הֲפוּכִים וּפָרָה רָצָה בֵּין הַכְּרָמִים אוֹ כְּלִי מְגֻלֶּה בָּאַשְׁפָּה הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲבֵדָה וְנוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז:

3

If one sees a donkey or a cow pasturing in an ordinary place and manner at night, the animal is considered lost.

If he saw the animal pasturing at twilight or at dawn for three consecutive days, it is considered a lost article; it should be taken and its discovery announced.

The following laws apply when a person sees a cow running down a road. If it is facing the city, it is not considered a lost article. If it is not facing the city, it is considered a lost article.

ג

רָאָה חֲמוֹר אוֹ פָּרָה רוֹעִים בַּאֲפָר כְּדַרְכָּן בַּלַּיְלָה הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲבֵדָה. בִּפְנוֹת הַיּוֹם וּבַנֶּשֶׁף אִם רָאָה אוֹתָן שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים זֶה אַחַר זֶה הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲבֵדָה וְנוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז. רָאָה פָּרָה רָצָה בַּדֶּרֶךְ אִם פָּנֶיהָ כְּלַפֵּי הָעִיר אֵין זוֹ אֲבֵדָה. כְּלַפֵּי הַשָּׂדֶה הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲבֵדָה:

4

If a person finds a cow pasturing among the vineyards, he is obligated to return the animal to its owner because of the damage that will be done to the property.

Therefore, if the vineyards belong to a gentile, the animal is not considered lost and there is no obligation to return it. If he suspects that perhaps the gentile will kill the animal when he finds it because it spoiled his vineyard, it is considered a lost article; it should be taken and its discovery announced.

ד

מְצָאָהּ רוֹעָה בֵּין הַכְּרָמִים חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר מִשּׁוּם אֲבֵדַת הַקַּרְקַע. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיוּ הַכְּרָמִים שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם אֵינָהּ אֲבֵדָה וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר. וְאִם חָשַׁשׁ שֶׁמָּא יַהַרְגֶנָּה הָעַכּוּ''ם כְּשֶׁיִּמְצָאֶנָּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִפְסִידָה הַכֶּרֶם הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲבֵדָה וְנוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז:

5

The following rules apply if a person finds a cow in the public domain. If it is found beyond the Sabbath limits of the city, he is obligated to return it. If it was pasturing in the grass or located in a barn that is neither a totally secure place nor one from where it will definitely flee, the finder should not touch it; this is not a lost article.

If he found a garment or an axe at the side of a wall, he should not touch them. If he found them in a thoroughfare, he should take them and announce their discovery. The same applies in all similar instances.

ה

מָצָא פָּרָה בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אִם עוֹמֶדֶת חוּץ לַתְּחוּם חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר. הָיְתָה רוֹעָה בָּעֲשָׂבִים אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה בְּרֶפֶת שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִשְׁתַּמֶּרֶת וְאֵינָהּ מְאַבֶּדֶת לֹא יִגַּע בָּהּ שֶׁאֵין זוֹ אֲבֵדָה. מָצָא טַלִּית אוֹ קַרְדֹּם בְּצַד הַגָּדֵר הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִגַּע בָּהֶן. בִּסְרַטְיָא הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

6

If a person finds young doves whose wings are tied together and they are hopping behind a stone wall, a wooden fence or in a lane in the fields, he should not touch them, since it is possible that their owner left them there. If, however, he takes them, they become his property.

If they were found tied with a unique knot that can serve as a mark of identification, the finder is obligated to announce their discovery. Similarly, if he found them located in a fixed place, he is obligated to announce their discovery, for the place where an object is discovered can serve as a mark of identification.

ו

מָצָא גּוֹזָלוֹת מְקֻשָּׁרִין בְּכַנְפֵיהֶן וּמְדַדִּין אַחַר הַגָּדֵר אוֹ אַחַר הַגַּפָּה אוֹ בַּשְּׁבִילִין שֶׁבַּשָּׂדוֹת הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִגַּע בָּהֶן שֶׁמָּא בַּעֲלֵיהֶן הִנִּיחוּם שָׁם. וְאִם נְטָלָן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. וְאִם הָיוּ קְשׁוּרִין קֶשֶׁר שֶׁהוּא סִימָן חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. וְכֵן אִם מְצָאָן קְבוּעִים בִּמְקוֹמָן חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז שֶׁהַמָּקוֹם סִימָן:

7

If a person finds a utensil buried in a garbage heap, he should not touch it, as mentioned above. If the garbage dump is not usually cleared away, and its owner decides to clear it away, he should take the utensil and announce its discovery, even though it is buried. If he discovers small utensils - e.g., a knife, a spit or the like - he should take them and announce their discovery, even though they were buried.

ז

מָצָא בָּאַשְׁפָּה כְּלִי מְכֻסֶּה הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִגַּע בּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְאִם אַשְׁפָּה שֶׁאֵינָהּ עֲשׂוּיָה לְהִתְפַּנּוֹת הִיא וְנִמְלַךְ עָלֶיהָ לְפַנּוֹתָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּצָאוֹ מְכֻסֶּה נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז. וְכֵן אִם הָיוּ כֵּלִים קְטַנִּים כְּגוֹן סַכִּין וְשִׁפּוּד וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ מְכֻסִּין בָּאַשְׁפָּה הַקְּבוּעָה נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז:

8

If a person finds scattered produce that appears to have been intentionally placed down, he should not touch it. If it appears that it has fallen, he may keep it.

Similarly, if he finds small sheaves of grain in the public domain, he may keep them, for they do not have a mark. The same applies if he finds cakes of pressed figs, a baker's loaves, a string of fish, pieces of meat, raw wool as it comes from the country, bundles of flax or stretches of purple wool, for they also do not have marks by which they can be identified.

If an item has a mark by which it can be identified, the finder should take it and announce its discovery. Although the mark will ultimately be worn off by trampling, it is still considered a valid mark of identification.

ח

מָצָא פֵּרוֹת מְפֻזָּרִין דֶּרֶךְ הַנָּחָה לֹא יִגַּע בָּהֶן. דֶּרֶךְ נְפִילָה הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁלּוֹ. וְכֵן אִם מָצָא כְּרִיכוֹת קְטַנּוֹת שֶׁל שִׁבֳּלִים בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין בָּהֶן סִימָן. אוֹ שֶׁמָּצָא עִגּוּלֵי דְּבֵלָה וְכִכָּרוֹת שֶׁל נַחְתּוֹם וּמַחְרוֹזוֹת שֶׁל דָּגִים וַחֲתִיכוֹת שֶׁל בָּשָׂר וְגִזֵּי צֶמֶר הַבָּאוֹת מִמְּדִינָתָן וַאֲנִיצֵי פִּשְׁתָּן וּלְשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁל אַרְגָּמָן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן סִימָן. וְאִם יֵשׁ בָּהֶן סִימָן נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז שֶׁסִּימָן הֶעָשׂוּי לִדָּרֵס הֲרֵי הוּא סִימָן:

9

If, however, a person finds bread baked by an ordinary person,wool that has been dyed by a craftsman, jugs of wine or jugs of oil, he is obligated to announce their discovery, for all these articles possess distinctive marks by which they can be identified.

If, however, this occurs during the season when the stores of wine and oil are opened, the jugs belong to the finder even when the seal is marked. For all the jugs will be marked in the same fashion. The jugs will thus resemble loaves of bread coming from a baker, which all possess a standard shape and weight.

ט

אֲבָל אִם מָצָא כִּכָּרוֹת שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת וְגִזֵּי צֶמֶר הַלְּקוּחוֹת מִבֵּית הָאֻמָּן כַּדֵּי יַיִן וְכַדֵּי שֶׁמֶן חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז שֶׁכָּל אֵלּוּ יֵשׁ לָהֶם סִימָנִין מֻבְהָקִין. וְאִם נִפְתְּחוּ הָאוֹצָרוֹת שֶׁל יַיִן וְשֶׁל שֶׁמֶן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵם רְשׁוּמִין. שֶׁכָּל הַכַּדּוֹת כָּךְ הָיוּ רְשׁוּמוֹת וְנִמְצְאוּ אֵלּוּ הַכַּדִּין כְּכִכְּרוֹת הַנַּחְתּוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ צוּרָה אַחַת לְכֻלָּן וּמִשְׁקָל אֶחָד לְכֻלָּם:

10

The following laws apply if a person finds small sheaves in a private domain: If it appears that they have fallen, he may keep them. If it appears that they have been intentionally placed there, he must announce their discovery.

The rationale is that although they do not have a mark by which they can be identified, the place where they are discovered can serve as a mark of identification, even though it is not a distinctive mark of identification.

If he finds large sheaves, whether in the private domain or in the public domain, he should take them and announce their discovery.

י

מָצָא כְּרִיכוֹת בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד אִם דֶּרֶךְ נְפִילָה הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. וְאִם דֶּרֶךְ הַנָּחָה חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם סִימָן הַמָּקוֹם סִימָן (אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ סִימָן מֻבְהָק). מָצָא אֲלֻמּוֹת בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז:

11

If a person finds a cake of pressed figs that contain a shard, a loaf of bread that contains a coin, a piece of meat that is cut in an abnormal fashion, a fish that has been bitten and any similar item, he is obligated to announce their discovery. The rationale is that they possess an abnormal factor, and we can assume that their owner did this only so that it would serve as a mark of identification.

יא

מָצָא עִגּוּל וּבְתוֹכוֹ חֶרֶשׂ. כִּכָּר וּבְתוֹכוֹ מָעוֹת. חֲתִיכָה שֶׁל בָּשָׂר שֶׁהוּא מְשֻׁנֶּה בַּחֲתִיכוֹת. דָּג נָשׁוּךְ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ בָּהֶן שִׁנּוּי חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. שֶׁלֹּא עֲשָׂאוּם בַּעֲלֵיהֶן אֶלָּא לְסִימָן:

12

The following rules apply when a person finds scattered fruit in the place of the grain heaps. If there was a measure approximately the size of a kav in a square four cubits by four cubits or in a larger area, it may be kept by the finder. The rationale is that the owners will no longer trouble themselves to collect it.

If the produce was scattered in a smaller space, a finder should not touch it, for perhaps it was intentionally left there by the owner.

Our Sages were in doubt with regard to the following situations: If half a kav was left in a square two cubits by two cubits, two kabbim in a square eight cubits by eight cubits, or a kav of two or three types of produce - e.g., dates, sesame seeds and pomegranates in a square four by four. Therefore, at the outset, one should not take such produce. If, however, one takes it, one is not obligated to announce its discovery.

יב

מָצָא פֵּרוֹת מְפֻזָּרִין בְּמָקוֹם הַגֳּרָנוֹת אִם הָיוּ כְּמוֹ קַב בְּתוֹךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת אוֹ בְּיֶתֶר עַל אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין הַבְּעָלִים מְטַפְּלִים בַּאֲסִיפָתָן. הָיוּ מְפֻזָּרִין בְּפָחוֹת מֵאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת לֹא יִגַּע בָּהֶן שֶׁמָּא הַבְּעָלִים הִנִּיחוּם שָׁם. הָיוּ כְּמוֹ חֲצִי קַב בִּשְׁתֵּי אַמּוֹת אוֹ קַבַּיִם בִּשְׁמוֹנֶה אַמּוֹת אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַקַּב מִשְּׁנַיִם וּשְׁלֹשָׁה מִינִין כְּמוֹ תְּמָרִים שֻׁמְשְׁמִין [וְרִמּוֹנִים] כָּל אֵלּוּ סָפֵק לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יִטּל. וְאִם נָטַל אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז:

13

A person who finds a collection of fruit, fruit in a container, or an empty container is obligated to announce the discovery of these objects.

If one finds a container with fruit in front of it, one may keep the fruit, but one must announce the discovery of the utensil. For it is likely that the utensil belongs to one person and the produce to another, and there is no mark by which to identify the produce. If it appears that the produce and the container belong to the same person, one must also announce the discovery of the produce.

יג

הַמּוֹצֵא צִבּוּרֵי פֵּרוֹת אוֹ פֵּרוֹת בִּכְלִי אוֹ כְּלִי כְּמוֹת שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז. מָצָא כְּלִי וּלְפָנָיו פֵּרוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ הַפֵּרוֹת. וְהַכְּלִי נוֹטֵל וּמַכְרִיז. שֶׁאֲנִי אוֹמֵר הַכְּלִי שֶׁל אֶחָד וְהַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁל אַחֵר וַהֲרֵי אֵין בּוֹ סִימָן. וְאִם מַרְאִין הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן שֶׁל אָדָם אֶחָד חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז:

14

What is implied? If the back of the container is facing the produce, he may keep the produce. If, however, the front of the container is facing the produce, we suspect that the produce fell from the container. Nevertheless, even in such a situation, if the container has a rim, and it is totally empty, the finder may keep the produce. For if it had fallen from the container, the rim would have caused something to remain. If some fruit were in the container and some were on the ground, the finder is obligated to announce the discovery of the entire amount.

יד

כֵּיצַד. הָיוּ אֲחוֹרֵי הַכְּלִי לִפְנֵי הַפֵּרוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. הָיוּ פְּנֵי הַכְּלִי לִפְנֵי הַפֵּרוֹת חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא מִן הַכְּלִי נִשְׁפְּכוּ. וְאִם הָיוּ אָגֳּנִים לַכְּלִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁפָּנָיו כְּלַפֵּי הַפֵּרוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁאִלּוּ נִשְׁפְּכוּ מִן הַכְּלִי הָיָה נִשְׁאַר מֵהֶן בְּתוֹכוֹ מִפְּנֵי הָאָגֳּנִים. הָיוּ מִקְצָת הַפֵּרוֹת בַּכְּלִי וּמִקְצָתָן בָּאָרֶץ חַיָּב לְהַכְרִיז:

15

When a person finds berries set out to dry in the road, even if he finds them next to a field of berries, they may be kept by the finder. Similarly, when a berry bush hangs over a road and berries are found under it, one is permitted to take them; the prohibition against robbery does not apply.

The rationale for these rulings is that a berry becomes repulsive when it falls in the dust. Such berries are considered ownerless, and thus there is no requirement that a tithe should be given. These concepts do not apply to olives, carobs and other similar fruit; they are forbidden to be taken by the finder.

טו

הַמּוֹצֵא קְצִיעוֹת בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּצַד שְׂדֵה קְצִיעוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ. וְכֵן תְּאֵנָה שֶׁהִיא נוֹטָה לַדֶּרֶךְ וְנִמְצְאוּ תְּאֵנִים תַּחְתֶּיהָ מֻתָּרוֹת מִשּׁוּם גֵּזֶל. שֶׁהַתְּאֵנָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ עִם נְפִילָתָהּ נִמְאֶסֶת. וּפְטוּרוֹת מִשּׁוּם מַעֲשֵׂר. אֲבָל זֵיתִים וְחָרוּבִין וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֲסוּרִין:

16

Dates that are blown off a tree by the wind may be taken, for we assume that the owners forgo ownership over them in favor of anyone who finds them. If, however, they belong to orphans below the age of majority, they are forbidden to be taken, because a minor does not have the legal prerogative to waive his ownership over property.

Similarly, if the owner of the field takes care not to lose any of his produce and has surrounded the trees with a fence or put nets under the trees so that the fruit that drops should fall there until he gathers them, it is forbidden to take this fruit, for he has shown that he is not willing to forgo ownership.

טז

תְּמָרִים שֶׁמְּשִׁירָן הָרוּחַ מֻתָּרוֹת שֶׁהַבְּעָלִים מְחָלוּם לְכָל אָדָם וְזוֹ הִיא חֶזְקָתָן. וְאִם הָיוּ שֶׁל יְתוֹמִים שֶׁאֵינָן בְּנֵי מְחִילָה אֲסוּרִין. וְכֵן אִם הִקְפִּיד בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְהִקִּיף מְקוֹם הָאִילָנוֹת אוֹ תִּקֵּן מָקוֹם שֶׁיִּפְּלוּ בּוֹ הַנּוֹבְלוֹת עַד שֶׁיְּלַקְּטֵם הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ אֲסוּרוֹת שֶׁהֲרֵי גִּלָּה דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מָחַל:

17

A perverse cat that kills young children may not be kept by its owner. Hence, taking it from its owner is not considered robbery, nor is one obligated to return it, even though its hide has some worth. Instead, whoever finds it acquires it. He should kill it, and the hide belongs to him.

יז

חָתוּל רַע שֶׁהוֹרֵג אֶת הַקְּטַנִּים אָסוּר לְקַיְּמוֹ וְאֵין בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם גֵּזֶל וְאֵין בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם הֶשֵּׁב אֲבֵדָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעוֹרוֹ מוֹעִיל אֶלָּא כָּל הַמּוֹצְאוֹ זָכָה בּוֹ וְהוֹרְגוֹ וְהָעוֹר שֶׁלּוֹ:

18

The following laws apply to a young dove that is found close to a dovecote. If it is found within 50 cubits of the dovecote, it belongs to the owner of the dovecote. If it is found beyond 50 cubits of the dovecote, it belongs to whoever finds it, for a young dove does not hop more than 50 cubits.

If a young dove is found between two dovecotes, it is granted to the owner of the closer one. If it is found midway between the two, its value should be divided.

When does the above apply? When there are an equal number of doves in each dovecote. But if there are more doves in one dovecote than another, we assume that it came from the majority, even though it is further away.

יח

גּוֹזָל הַנִּמְצָא קָרוֹב לַשּׁוֹבָךְ בְּתוֹךְ חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁל בַּעַל הַשּׁוֹבָךְ חוּץ לַחֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁל מוֹצְאוֹ שֶׁאֵין הַגּוֹזָל מְדַדֶּה יֶתֶר עַל חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה. נִמְצָא בֵּין שְׁנֵי שׁוֹבָכוֹת הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁל קָרוֹב. מֶחֱצָה לְמֶחֱצָה יַחֲלֹקוּ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיוּ יוֹנֵי שְׁתֵּי הַשּׁוֹבָכוֹת שָׁוִים בְּמִנְיָן. אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ יוֹנֵי הָאֶחָד רַבִּים הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הָרֹב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא רָחוֹק: