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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
if it [the find] is exceedingly rusty.1
IN A NEW WALL: IF IN THE OUTER HALF [THEREOF], IT IS HIS; IN THE INNER HALF, IT BELONGS TO THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE. R. Ashi said: A knife follows its handle, and a purse its straps.2 Then when our Mishnah states, IF IN THE OUTER HALF [THEREOF], IT IS HIS; IN THE INNER HALF, IT BELONGS TO THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE: let us see whether the handle or the straps point outwards or inwards? — The Mishnah refers to tow-cotton and bar metal.3
A Tanna taught: If the wall [cavity] was filled therewith, they divide.4 But is that not obvious? — It is necessary [to state this] only when it [the cavity or the wall] slopes to one side: I might have thought that it [the article found there] had slid down.5 Therefore we are taught [otherwise].
BUT IF IT [THE HOUSE] USED TO BE RENTED TO OTHERS, EVEN IF ONE FINDS [ARTICLES] IN THE HOUSE ITSELF, THEY BELONG TO HIM. Why so: let it be assigned to the last [tenant]?6 Did we not learn: Money found in front of cattle dealers at all times is [accounted as] tithe; on the Temple Mount, it is hullin; in [the rest of] Jerusalem, at any other part of the year, it is hullin; at the Festival season, it is tithe.7 And R. Shemaia b. Ze'ira observed thereon: What is the reason? Because the streets of Jerusalem8 were swept daily. This proves that we assume: the earlier [losses] have gone, and these [coins] are different ones. So here too, the earlier [deposits] have gone, and these belong to the last [tenant]?9 — Said Resh Lakish on the authority of Bar Kappara: It means e.g., that he [the owner of the house] had let it as a temporary lodging to three people [simultaneously].10 Then you may infer that the halachah agrees with R. Simeon b. Eleazar even in respect to a multitude of Israelites!11 — But, said R. Manassia b. Jacob, it means e.g., that he had let it as a temporary lodging to three gentiles. R. Nahman said in Rabbah b. Abbahu's name: It may even refer to three Jews.12 What then is the reason? It is because the man who lost it despairs thereof, arguing thus: 'Let us see, no other person but these was with me. Now, I have many times mentioned it in their presence so that they should return it to me, but they did not do so. Will they now return it!13 Had they intended to return it, they would have returned it to me,14 hence the reason of their not returning it to me is that they intend stealing it.'15 Now, R. Nahman follows his general reasoning. For R. Nahman said: If a person sees a sela'
Baba Mezi'a 26b
fall from one of two people [who are together], he must return it. What is the reason? He who dropped it does not despair thereof, for he argues: 'Let us see, no other person but this one was with me; then I will seize him and say to him, You did take it.' But in the case of three1 he need not return it. What is the reason? — Because he who dropped it certainly abandons it, arguing to himself, 'Let us see: there were two with me; if I accuse the one he will deny it, and if I accuse the other, he will deny it.'
Raba said: As for your ruling that in the case of three he need not return it, that holds good only if it [the coin lost] lacks the value of a perutah2 for each [of the three]; but if it contains the equivalent of a perutah for each person, he is bound to return it. What is the reason? They may be partners, and therefore do not abandon it.3 Others state. Raba said: Even if it is worth only two perutahs, he must return it. What is the reason? They may have been partners, and one renounced his portion in the owner's favour.4
Raba also said: If a man sees a sela' fall, if he takes it before abandonment, intending to appropriate it,5 he transgresses all [the following injunctions]: Thou shalt not rob;6 thou shalt restore them;7 and, thou mayest not hide thyself.8 And even if he returns it after abandonment, he merely makes him [the loser] a gift, whilst the offence he has committed stands.9 If he picks it up before abandonment, intending to return it, but after abandonment decides to appropriate it, he violates [the injunction,] thou shalt restore them.10 If he waits until the owner despairs thereof and then takes it, he transgresses only, thou mayest not hide thyself.11
Raba also said: If a man sees his neighbour drop a zuz in sand, and then finds and takes it, he is not bound to return it. Why? He from whom it fell abandons it, and even if he is seen to bring a sieve and sift [the sand], he may merely be reasoning. 'Just as I dropped something, so may another have lost an article, and I will find it.'12
MISHNAH. IF A MAN FINDS [AN ARTICLE] IN A SHOP, IT BELONGS TO HIM:13 BETWEEN THE COUNTER AND THE SHOPKEEPER ['S SEAT], TO THE SHOPKEEPER.14 [IF HE FINDS IT] IN FRONT OF A MONEY-CHANGER, IT BELONGS TO HIM [THE FINDER]; BETWEEN THE STOOL15 AND THE MONEY-CHANGER, TO THE MONEY-CHANGER. IF ONE BUYS PRODUCE FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR, OR IF HIS NEIGHBOUR SENDS HIM PRODUCE, AND HE FINDS MONEY THEREIN, IT IS HIS. BUT IF THEY [THE COINS] ARE TIED UP, HE MUST TAKE AND PROCLAIM THEM.16
GEMARA. R. Eleazar said: Even if they [the articles found] are lying on the [money-changer's] table [they belong to the finder]. We learnt: [IF HE FINDS IT] IN FRONT OF A MONEY-CHANGER, IT BELONGS TO HIM. [This implies,] but if it was on the table, it belongs to the money-changer.17 Then consider the second clause: BETWEEN THE STOOL AND THE MONEY-CHANGER, TO THE MONEY-CHANGER; [implying,] but if on the table, it is his [the finder's], But [in truth] no inference can be drawn from this.18 And whence does R. Eleazar know this? — Said Raba: Our Mishnah presented to him a difficulty. Why teach particularly, BETWEEN THE STOOL AND THE MONEY-CHANGER. IT BELONGS TO THE MONEY-CHANGER? Let it state. 'on the table,' or, 'If one finds [an article] in a money-changer's shop.' just as the first clause teaches, IF ONE FINDS [AN ARTICLE] IN A SHOP, IT BELONGS TO HIM. Hence it must follow that even if it lay on the table, it is his.19
IF ONE BUYS PRODUCE FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR etc. Resh Lakish said on R. Jannai's authority: This refers only
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