כ״א בתשרי ה׳תשע״ז (October 23, 2016)

Bava Metzia 28a-b: Proclaiming a Found Object

We have established that in many cases, someone who finds a lost object is obligated to announce his find in an attempt to locate the owner and return the object. The first Mishna on today’s daf asks: how long must the finder persist in announcing his find? Rabbi Meir rules that he must be sure to inform the local residents in the area where the object was found. According to Rabbi Yehuda the finder must announce it at the Temple in Jerusalem over a period of three pilgrimage festivals (regalim) and then give people time to return to their homes to see if the object that was described was theirs and that it was missing.

Clearly this Mishna describes a situation when the Temple was standing and there was an opportunity to announce information to the entire Jewish community. The baraitot describe that during different historical periods, announcements were made according to the needs of the times:

  • When the Temple stood, announcements were made for a period of three regalim, and then time was given to allow the people to return home to check whether it was their object that had been found
  • After the destruction of the Temple, announcements were made in local synagogues and study halls
  • When there was a problem with anasim (oppressors) the decision was made that spreading the word among friends and neighbors was enough.

The anasim mentioned by the baraita were people who informed the government – which, under Persian law, could claim ownership of lost objects – of the announcements that were being made, which led to the confiscation of those objects by the government.

The Gemara closes by describing that when the Temple stood there was a special claimant’s stone – the even to’an – that stood in Jerusalem and was the place where “finders” and “losers” would go to try and locate one another. Today, modern technology connects people in different ways.

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