Elu Metziot shiur #27, 28b

  • Rav Joshua Amaru


Introduction to the Study of Talmud
By Rav Josh Amaru

Elu Metziot shiur #27,  28b.

Today's shiur includes the vocabulary list for the shiur itself. If you wish to consult the full cumulative vocabulary list, it is found at
http://www.vbm-torah.org/talmud2/vocab.htm.  The grammar lessons appear at the end of the vocabulary lists. 

As usual, the citations to the text of the gemara are linked to the online scan of the daf, for those who do not have an open gemara before them.  The gemara can be found on-line at 
http://www.e-daf.com/daf.asp?ID=30801.  Key words and phrases are marked in blue, and their translation/explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them.  Other vocabulary words are marked in red and can be found on the vocabulary list at the end of the shiur.  Particularly important vocabulary words will be underlined and either have a link to the vocabulary list or a pop-up window that will appear if you place the cursor on them. 

Summary of last shiur:   In the last shiur we learned something about the rule of announcing a lost object.  We saw that halakha does not require the finder to continue announcing indefinitely.

    This week's shiur will be divided into two halves.  In the first half, we will learn another mishna about announcing and its subsequent gemara.  Afterwards, we will begin addressing the question of the finder's responsibilities towards the lost object while it is in his possession.  Learn now the mishna on 28b and the subsequent gemara until "muvhakim dida מובהקים דידה."  Lines 1-6 in the schematic analysis. 

     One might have thought that, given that the object was lost anyway, the finder need not overly concern himself with confirming the identity of a claimant.  The mishna teaches us that this is not so; the finder must not give the lost object to someone who is suspect.  The finder, upon taking possession of a lost object, becomes responsible for ensuring that it is returned to its rightful owner.  This responsibility includes protecting it from frauds, such that a claimant must identify himself and his or her past relationship with the object through the presentation of simanim.  In addition, a claimant with "a record," who has a history of fraudulent claims, will not be believed at all on the basis of simanim and must bring witnesses that the lost object is his. 

    The gemara refers us to a makhloket Amoraim about the method of announcing.  We have already seen reference to this makhloket in our discussion of the previous mishna (see previous shiur and Ravina's conclusion on 28a).  Rav Yehuda holds that the finder announces only that he has found something.  Rav Yehuda wants to minimize the potential for fraud.  The finder must identify the type of object lost and on top of that present simanim that this particular example of it belongs to him.  The disadvantage of this position is that it is very inefficient and places a heavy burden on the claimant.  Someone who hears that 'something' has been found does not necessarily catalogue his or her belongings to see if anything is missing.  Likewise, someone who is actively looking for a lost object will not know to whom to turn to amongst the many people claiming to have found something.   

    Rav Nachman holds that the finder must announce the type of lost object.  Limiting the amount of information that the finder announces out of fear of fraud, as recommended by Rav Yehuda, gets us nowhere.  A successful fraud will manage even when the finder's announcement is vague.  This perspective's advantages and disadvantages mirror those of Rav Yehuda's.  The disposition of lost property is much more efficient when the finder announces some specifics.  Such an announcement will both encourage people to check to see if they are missing such a thing and make it easier for the loser to seek out the finder.  On the other hand, the potential for fraud is relatively greater, as the cheat has more information with which to represent himself as the owner. 

        The gemara tries to show that this machloket can be resolved  through reference to our mishna.  Our  mishna teaches us that the finder should not return the lost object without simanim being provided by the claimant.  If  we assume that the finder announces that he or she has found 'something', we can understand the mishna's inclusion of this rule.  The mishna is trying to teach us that the claimant's merely identifying the type of the lost object is insufficient; he or she must still bring simanim.    

   However, if we read the mishna assuming that the finder is required to also announce the type of lost object, i.e. 'I have found a garment,' then the mishna's insistence on simanim appears unnecessary.  Of course we require simanim under such circumstances; otherwise anyone could claim to be the owner, since the type of object has already been announced by the finder!  What added value is there to the mishna telling us that if the claimant has no simanim, he or she should not be given the lost object?

    Rav Safra explains how to understand the mishna according to Rav Nachman's position that the announcement must be specific.  The finder declares the type of object, 'I have found a garment' and the claimant must present simanim.  The mishna, in insisting that without simanim the finder may not return the object teaches us that not all simanim are sufficient.  Unless the claimant can produce simanim muvhakim; i.e., clear simanim that specifically identify this object, he should not receive the object.

    Learn now on 28b from "ve-haramai והרמאי" until the mishna.  Lines 7-10 in the schematic analysis.

    The mishna teaches that someone who is known to be dishonest loses the right to retrieve a lost object solely on the basis of simanim.  Such a person must present hard evidence; e.g., witnesses, to the effect that the lost object is his.  Clearly, the Rabbis were very concerned that the mitzva of hashavat aveida, and the goodwill of people willing to make an effort to return lost objects not be abused by the unscrupulous.  The gemara records a baraita that reports a further development.  Originally, an ordinary person was presumed honest and could retrieve his or her lost object merely by presenting simanim.  With the rise of dishonest and unscrupulous people, the Rabbis perceived that the system was being abused.  They then instituted that anyone who wishes to retrieve a lost object through simanim must bring witnesses to testify to his honesty.  Only then do we trust his simanim and return the object to him. 

    This requirement of witnesses to one's honesty included even the leading Rabbis, as we see in the story about R. Papa's father, who needed witnesses of his honesty in order to retrieve his lost donkey.  In this case however, the witnesses, when asked if R. Papa's father is a dishonest man,  answered in the affirmative. When he protested, they explained that they were confused, and they meant to say that he was honest.  In such a case, Raba bar Rav Huna accepted the correction of their testimony, despite the usual rule that testimony is not retractable.

The principle that witnesses may not retract their testimony is called "keivan she-higid, shuv eino chozer u-magid כיון שהגיד שוב אינו חוזר ומגיד. It  translates as 'once he has spoken, he may not retract and speak again'. 

  This case is an exception, since it is clear that Rav Papa's father would not have brought witnesses to certify his dishonesty.  Since he brought the witnesses, we understand that they did mean to testify that he was honest.

    The next mishna discusses the responsibilities of the finder towards the lost object.  The mishna divides neatly into two parts.  When you learn it, on 28b, try to give a title to each part.  Line 11 in the schematic analysis.  

    The first part of the mishna teaches us about how the finder defrays the costs of maintaining the lost object.  Anything that "works and eats" should do so.  Look in Rashi s.v.kol davar she-oseh ve-okhel, for an explanation of this term.

    As Rashi explains, if the lost object is something like an animal, that can be used to earn money, then that money goes towards its maintenance.  If it is something accrues expenses but cannot "pay its own way", then the finder is allowed to sell the object, setting aside its value to return to the owner.  This rule is derived directly from the Torah instruction "return it [the lost object] to him";  one must find the best way to return to him.  Rashi, s.v. re'eh heiakh teshivenu lo, explains this midrash halakha.   It was obvious to the Rabbis that the finder does not need to incur a loss of his own in order to return the lost object, so in a case where that is liable to happen, he or she may convert the lost object into cash. 

    The second half of the mishna deals with what the finder is supposed to do with this cash.  This point will be discussed later in the gemara, so we will just summarize the positions here.  According to R. Tarfon, the finder is permitted to use this money until the owner should appear.  Attendant upon this benefit is a greater responsibility towards this money, such that if it is lost, the finder must replace it.  R. Akiva forbids the finder to make use of the money.  Since the finder gains no benefit from holding this money, he or she is not held responsible if it is lost.

Now begin the gemara on 28b, after the mishna, until "ha, be-zutari הא בזוטרי".  Lines 12- 19 in the schematic analysis.

    The gemara asks about the mishna's ruling that a lost object that pays its way must be kept by the finder.  Is there no limit to how long the finder should take care of this animal?   R. Nachman reports Shmuel's ruling that the finder must take care of the animal for twelve months.  After that he or she can sell it and set aside the money. 

    The gemara records a baraita along the same lines. A cow or a donkey, that can earn their keep, must be kept for twelve months.  The baraita adds rulings for other sorts of animals, that presumably do not earn their keep.  Calves and foals must be kept for three months,  geese and roosters for thirty days. 

Why are there different time allotments for different animals?  The gemara does not say but the explanation seems fairly straightforward.  The ideal way to perform the mitzva of hashavat aveida is to return the original object that was lost.  The Rabbis made a concession to the finder that he or she does not need to incur a significant loss in order to do so.  The rulings here are an attempt to maintain the balance between these two values.  Since the owner will always prefer to receive his actual animal, things that earn their keep must be kept for the maximum period, twelve months.  Animals that are not easily obtainable but do not earn their keep, like foals and calves, must be kept for three months.  Animals that are relatively easy to obtain for cash and do not earn their keep must be kept for a month. 

    The gemara next inserts a ruling by R. Nachman b. Yitzchak.  A chicken, which lays eggs, is like a large animal that earns its keep, and thus must be kept for twelve months. 

After the allotted time period, the finder is instructed to "evaluate its worth and set it aside."  The Rishonim discuss how this is done.  Rashi, s.v. sham demeihem שם דמיהם, says that the finder must sell the object and set aside the money.  Ramban claims that the finder need not actually sell it but can simply set the value of the object aside and keep the object for himself.  There is no reason, claims Ramban, to suspect the finder of stealing or undervaluing the object, since if he was dishonest, he could have kept it for himself initially.  Rif, however, requires that the lost object be sold in beit din; i.e., in the presence of the court, presumably to prevent corruption. 

    Here too the gemara refers us to a baraita that supports the ruling.  According to this baraita, a chicken or a large animal must be kept for twelve months;  calves and foals the must be kept for thirty days;  Geese and roosters, and anything whose care is more expensive than its benefit, must be kept for three days.

    As you may have noticed, the allotted time periods are different in each baraita.  The gemara points out that there is a double contradiction.  In the first baraita, calves and foals are allotted three months while in the second, they are allotted thirty days.  In the first baraita, geese and roosters are allotted thirty days and in the second, only three.  The gemara next addresses these contradictions.

    The different rulings for calves and foals in each baraita is resolved through differing ukimtas:  The first baraita refers to calves and foals that can graze, such that the cost of their maintenance is low, while the second baraita refers to calves and foals that require feed. 

    The different rulings for geese and roosters are explained in similar fashion.  The first baraita refers to small poultry that do not require much food, the second to large birds, that are more expensive to maintain. 

    Learn now on 28b from "ve-she'eino oseh ve-okhel ושאינו עושה ואוכל" until "ve-tarnegol le-tarnegolin ותרנגול לתרנגולין" near the bottom of the page.  Lines 20-21 in the schematic analysis. 

    The gemara next briefly refers to the line in the mishna that teaches that a lost object (animal) that does not earn its keep should be sold and the money set aside.  The gemara quotes a baraita as the source for this ruling.  The baraita expands upon the midrash halakha recorded in the mishna.  Look in the verses below in which the mitzva of hashavat aveida is stated:

Devarim 22:1-2

דברים כב:א-ב

(1) You shall not encounter your brother's lost  ox or sheep and ignore them; you shall surely return them to your brother.  (2)  If your brother is not close to you, or you do not know who he is, you shall take it into your house and it shall be with you until you brother seeks it out and you shall return it to him.

(א) לÉא תÄרÀאÆה אÆת שÑוÉר אÈחÄיךÈ אוÉ אÆת שÒÅיוÉ נÄדÌÈחÄים וÀהÄתÀעÇלÌÇמÀתÌÈ מÅהÆם הÈשÑÅב תÌÀשÑÄיבÅם לÀאÈחÄיךÈ:  (ב) וÀאÄם לÉא קÈרוÉב אÈחÄיךÈ אÅלÆיךÈ וÀלÉא יÀדÇעÀתÌוÉ וÇאÂסÇפÀתÌוÉ אÆל תÌוÉךÀ בÌÅיתÆךÈ וÀהÈיÈה עÄמÌÀךÈ עÇד דÌÀרÉשÑ אÈחÄיךÈ אÉתוÉ וÇהÂשÑÅבÉתוÉ לוÉ:

     As you may have noticed, the Torah repeats the requirement to return the lost object in verse 2.  In keeping with the principle of Rabbinic exegesis that such redundancies must carry added meaning, the Rabbis interpret the second "you shall return it" in terms of the context of the second verse, which deals with a scenario in which the finder holds the lost object for a period of time before the owner seeks him or her out.  In such a situation, the requirement to return the object is expanded - it also includes that one should exercise prudence in keeping the object, such that the cost of maintenance is not too great.

    The baraita expresses this idea by saying that one should not feed a calf to the calves or a foal to the foals, etc.  Look in Rashi s.v. she-lo ya'akhil egel la-agalim שלא יאכיל עגל לעגלים.  He explains this expression as meaning that when one finds more than one animal, see to it that one does not need to sell one of them in order to feed the others.  Where maintenance costs are so high, the mishna teaches us that it is better to preserve the lost object's value than to preserve the object itself. 

Summary:  In this shiur we learned two mishnayot, though we still have more gemara to learn on the second one.  The first mishna and attendant gemara continued the theme of the procedure for retrieving a lost object from the finder.  We saw that there is a makhloket regarding how much information the finder must provide in his or her announcement.  We also saw that people who are known to be dishonest are not trusted to recover lost objects with simanim.  The Rabbis later instituted that everyone must bring witnesses who will testify that he or she is honest before we will credit their simanim

    The second mishna brought up the issue of maintenance of the lost object on the part of the finder.  We learned that items whose cost of maintenance outweighs any profits they might create are not kept by the finder.  Instead he or she converts them into cash and holds the money for the owner.   



Schematic Analysis #27

Schematic analysis from the mishna on 28a until ."ve-tarnegol le-tarnegolin ותרנגול לתרנגולין" near the bottom of the page.

Translation of gemara Schematic Analysis Text of gemara 28a. 

1.  Mishna. If he [the claimant] states the [kind of] article lost, but not its simanim,  he [the finder] should not give it to him.  The dishonest person, even if he states its simanim, should not be given it.  As it [the Torah] says: "until your brother seeks it out" (Devarim 22) - i.e. until you investigate your brother if he is dishonest or not. 


1. משנה. אמר את האבידה ולא אמר סימניה - לא יתן לו. והרמאי, אף על פי שאמר סימניה - לא יתן לו, שנאמר +דברים כ"ב+ עד דרש אחיך אתו - עד שתדרוש את אחיך, אם רמאי הוא אם אינו רמאי.

2. Gemara. It has been said: Rav Yehuda said: He proclaims. '[I have found] a lost article.' R. Nachman said: He proclaims, '[I have found] a garment'. Machloket Amoraim

2.  גמרא. אתמר, רב יהודה אמר: אבידתא מכריז, ורב נחמן אמר: גלימא מכריז.

3. 'Rav Yehuda said: He proclaims a lost article,' for should you say that he proclaims a garment, we are afraid of cheats. 'R. Nachman said: He proclaims. a garment'; for 'we do not fear cheats, as otherwise the matter is endless'.

Explanation of the machloket

3.  רב יהודה אמר: אבידתא מכריז, דאי אמרת גלימא מכריז - חיישינן לרמאי. רב נחמן אמר: גלימא מכריז, לרמאי לא חיישינן, דאם כן אין לדבר סוף.

4.  We learnt in the mishna: If he [the claimant] states the [kind of] article lost, but not its simanim,  he [the finder] should not give it to him.

quote from our mishna as a prooftext

4.  תנן: אמר את האבידה ולא אמר את סימניה - הרי זה לא יתן לו.

5. Now, if you say that he proclaims [just the ] loss, it makes sense; we thus are taught that though he states that it was a garment, so long as he does not state its simanim, it is not returned to him. But if you say that he proclaims a garment, then if he[the finder] states that it was a garment, and the other [the claimant] states likewise, a garment, is it necessary to teach that it is not returned to him unless he declares its simanim Explanation how the mishna fits one side of the machloket and not the other.

5.  אי אמרת בשלמא אבידתא מכריז - הא קא משמע לן, אף על גב דאמר גלימא, כי לא אמר סימנין - לא מהדרינן ליה. אלא אי אמרת גלימא מכריז, אמר איהו גלימא ואמר איהו גלימא, צריכא למימר כי לא אמר סימנין לא מהדרינן ליה?

6.   R. Safra responded:  he indeed proclaims a garment. [The Mishna refers to a case where] he [the finder] stated [that he had found] a garment, while he [the claimant] submitted simanim. What then is meant by 'He did not state it simanim?' he did not state clear simanim.

Explanation the mishna according to the challenged side of the machloket

6.  אמר רב ספרא: לעולם גלימא מכריז. אמר איהו גלימא, ואמר איהו סימנין. ומאי לא אמר את סימניה - לא אמר סימנין מובהקין דידה.

7.  But the dishonest person, even if he states its simanim, should not be given it. Quote from the mishna (introducing its discussion)

7. והרמאי אף על פי שאמר את סימניה הרי זה לא יתן לו.

8. Our Rabbis taught: At first, whoever lost an article used to state its simanim and take it. When cheats increased in number, it was enacted that he should be told, 'Go forth and bring witnesses that you are not dishonest; then take it'. Baraita

8.  תנו רבנן: בראשונה כל מי שאבדה לו אבידה - היה נותן סימנין ונוטלה. משרבו הרמאין, התקינו שיהו אומרים לו: צא והבא עדים דלאו רמאי את, וטול.

9.  Even as it once happened that R.Papa's father lost a donkey, which others found. When he came before Raba son of R. Huna, he directed him, 'Go and bring witnesses that you are not a fraud, and take it.' So he went and brought witnesses. Said he to them, 'Do you know him to be dishonest?'  'Yes', they replied. 'I'm dishonest!' he exclaimed to them. 'We meant that you are not a fraud,' they answered him. .   Story that illustrates the point of the baraita.

9. כי הא דאבוה דרב פפא אירכס ליה חמרא ואשכחוה. אתא לקמיה דרבה בר רב הונא, אמר ליה: זיל אייתי סהדי דלאו רמאי את, וטול. אזל אייתי סהדי, אמר להו: ידעיתון ביה דרמאי הוא? - אמרו ליה: אין. - אמר להו: אנא רמאה אנא? - אמרו ליה: אנן לאו רמאי את קאמרינן.

10. Raba the son of Rav Huna ruled:  'It stands to reason that one does not bring [witnesses] to his disadvantage.' Explanation of the ruling in the story.

10.   אמר רבה בר רב הונא: מסתברא, לא מייתי איניש חובתא לנפשיה.  

11.Mishna:  Anything that works for its keep must be kept [by the finder] and it will work for its keep.  Anything that does not work for its keep must be sold.  As it say in the Torah:  "return it to him" (Devarim 22), i.e. determine how to return it to him. 

What happens with the money?  R. Tarfon says: he [the finder] should use them, and therefore if they are lost, he is responsible.  R. Akiva says:  he should not use them, and therefore if they are lost his is not responsible. 

Mishna (in two parts)

11.  משנה. כל דבר שעושה ואוכל - יעשה ויאכל, ודבר שאין עושה ואוכל - ימכר. שנאמר +דברים כ"ב+ והשבותו לו - ראה היאך תשיבנו לו.

    מה יהא בדמים? רבי טרפון אומר: ישתמש בהן, לפיכך אם אבדו חייב באחריותן. רבי עקיבא אומר: לא ישתמש בהן, לפיכך אם אבדו אין חייב באחריותן.

12.  Gemara:. For ever?!  difficulty with the mishna's first ruling.

12.  גמרא. ולעולם?

13. Said R. Nachman in Shmuel's name: For twelve months.

limitation of the mishna's first ruling

13.  אמר רב נחמן אמר שמואל: עד שנים עשר חדש.

14.  It has been taught likewise [in a baraita]: Anything that earns its keep, like a cow or a donkey, he [the finder] must take care of for twelve months; after that he evaluates their worth and puts it [the money] aside.  He must take care of calves and foals three months, from then on, he [may] sell them and put it [the money] aside. He must look after geese and roosters for thirty days, from then on, he [may] sell them and lay the money by. Baraita that supports above limitation

14. תניא נמי הכי: כל דבר שעושה ואוכל, כגון פרה וחמור - מטפל בהן עד שנים עשר חדש. מכאן ואילך - שם דמיהן ומניחן. עגלים וסייחין מטפל בהן שלשה חדשים, מכאן ואילך - שם דמיהן ומניחן. אווזין ותרנגולין מטפל בהם שלשים יום, מכאן ואילך - שם דמיהן ומניחן.

15. R. Nachman b. Yitzchak observed: A chicken is like a large animal. Application of the rule embodied in the mishna to a new case.

15.  אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק: תרנגולת כבהמה גסה.

16. So too it has been taught [in a baraita]:  He must take care of a chicken or a large animal for twelve months, from then on he evaluates their worth and puts it [the money] aside.  For calves and foals the must take care of them for thirty days, after that he evaluates their worth and puts it [the money] aside.  Geese and roosters, and anything whose care is more expensive than their benefit, he must take care of for three days, after which he evaluates their worth and puts it [the money] aside. Baraita that supports above application.

16.  תניא נמי הכי: תרנגולת ובהמה גסה מטפל בהן שנים עשר חודש, מכאן ואילך - שם דמיהן ומניחן. עגלים וסייחין מטפל בהן שלשים יום, מכאן ואילך - שם דמיהן ומניחן. אווזין ותרנגולין וכל דבר שטיפולו מרובה משכרו - מטפל בהן שלשה ימים, מכאן ואילך - שם דמיהן ומניחן.

17.   It is difficult to resolve [the two baraitas statements about] calves and foals.  [It is also difficult to resolve the two baraitas about] geese and roosters?!

calling attention to the double contradiction between this baraita and the previous one.

17.  קשיא עגלים וסייחין אעגלים וסייחין, אווזין ותרנגולין אאווזין ותרנגולין!

18.  The rulings on calves and foals are not contradictory: one refers to grazing animals; the other to those that require feeding  resolution of first contradiction

18.  עגלים וסייחין אעגלים וסייחין לא קשיא; הא - דרעיא, והא - דפטומא.

19. The rulings on geese and roosters are likewise not contradictory: oner refers to large ones, the other to small. resolution of second contradiction

19. אווזין ותרנגולין אאווזין ותרנגולין נמי לא קשיא: הא - ברברבי, הא - בזוטרי.

20.  ' An animal that does not work for its keep...'

Quote from the mishna

20.  ושאינו עושה ואוכל.  

21. Our Rabbis taught: "And thou shalt return it unto him:" deliberate how to return it unto him, so that a calf may not be given as food to other calves, a foal to other foals, a goose to other geese, or a rooster to other roosters. Baraita indicating the source of the mishna's ruling.

21.  תנו רבנן: והשבותו לו - ראה היאך תשיבנו לו, שלא יאכיל עגל לעגלים, וסיח לסייחין, אווזא לאווזין, ותרנגול לתרנגולין.



Selections from Rashi, daf 28b.

Rashi Text


כל דבר שעושה ואוכל - אם אבידה זו דבר שיכולין להאכילו את שכר מעשיו, כגון שור וחמור - יעשה ויאכל ולא ימכור אותו המוצא אם שהו בעליו מלדרשו, שכל אדם נוח לו בבהמתו, שהכירה בו כבר ולימדה לרצונו.

kol davar she-oseh ve-okhel,  anything that works and eats - If the lost object is something that it is possible to feed it on the profit from its work, like an ox or a donkey, should work and be fed [from that];  The finder should not sell it when the owners have been delayed in seeking it out, since people prefer their own animals that are familiar to them and trained to their will.

ראה היאך תשיבנו לו - שלא תאכילנו חצי דמיו, שאם כן אין זו השבה.

re'eh heiakh teshivenu lo, see how you return it to him - that you should not feed it half of its value, since that is not returning.

שם דמיהן - מוכרן, ומניח הדמים אצלו.

sham demeihem,  he evaluates their worth - that is, he sells them and set the money aside. 

שלא יאכיל עגל לעגלים - מן העגלים שנמצא לא יאכיל לו דמי עגל.

she-lo ya'akhil egel la-agalim, that he will not feed a calve to the calves - from the calves that are found he should not feed them the value of a calf.


Key Words and Phrases

תניא נמי הכי                           

tanya nami hakhi:  so too it is taught in a baraita.  This expression is used to introduce a baraita that expresses the same idea as previously expressed by an Amora.

General vocabulary

irkas - lost



zutari - small [items]



ravravi - large [items]



tanya nami hakhi:  so too it is taught in a baraita.  This expression is used to introduce a baraita that expresses the same idea as previously expressed by an Amora.

תניא נמי הכי