Elu Metziot shiur #29, 29a

  • Rav Joshua Amaru


Introduction to the Study of Talmud
By Rav Josh Amaru

Elu Metziot shiur #29,  29a.

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
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/index.asp?ID=3082&size=2 and
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 last weeks shiur we presented an overview of hilkhot shomerim that will enable us to understand the sugya on 29a.  The following chart sums up what we learned: 

Type of shomer relative benefit degree of liability
shomer chinam שומר חנם (free bailee) shomer gains no benefit - all the benefit is the owner's not liable except in cases of negligence.
shomer (noseh) sakhar שומר שכר  (hired bailee) gets paid to take care of the pikadon but may not make use of it. liable for theft and loss but not for ones אונס, i.e. unexpected loss like the animal's sudden death.
sokher שוכר (renter) gets to use the object but must pay for it. liable for theft and loss but not for ones אונס, i.e. unexpected loss like the animal's sudden death.
shoel שואל (borrower) shomer gains all the benefit - may use the object for free. always liable even for ones אונס (except in one specific situation which we won't deal with here)

We then began learning the sugya at the bottom of 28b.  We saw how the Amoraim interpret the makhloket in the mishna between R. Tarfon and R. Akiva as to whether the finder may use the money he or she has set aside in place of a lost object that is too expensive to maintain.  The gemara (according to Rashi) claims that the makhloket between R. Tarfon and R. Akiva about responsibility for the money is a function of the makhloket about the whether it is permitted to use it.  R. Tarfon holds that he is permitted to use it, and this permission can be understood as having a value.  This added value means that he is a shomer sakhar for this money, and as such his level of liability goes up.  R. Akiva holds that he is forbidden to use the money.  He therefore gains nothing from the money being in his possession (besides the performance of the mitzva of hashavat aveida) and as such can only be considered a shomer chinam, with its attendant lower level of liability. 

    This interpretation brought us to the makhloket between Raba and Rav Yosef regarding the general level of liability a finder has for a lost object he or she has found.  As the gemara explains, Rav Yosef and Raba disagree about how to categorize the finder of a lost object.  This disagreement is not limited to cases when the object is sold because of maintenance costs, as in our mishna, but rather addresses every case in which someone finds a lost object.    According to Raba, the finder is merely a shomer chinam; he or she is not be held responsible for the loss of or damage to the object after it came into his possession, unless it can be established that that loss or damage was the result of negligence. 

    On the other hand, Rav Yosef thinks we should regard the finder of a lost object as a shomer sakhar, who must reimburse the owner if the object is stolen or lost.  Only if the loss is the result of some unavoidable accident, an "ones," אונס, should the finder not be held liable.  We saw different explanations for this position, based upon the gemara in Bava Kama 56b.     

    To return to our sugya, we saw that the gemara's interpretation of the mishna stated above does not fit well with Rav Yosef's general position on the status of the finder.   In that interpretation, R. Tarfon holds that the finder has the right to use the money and therefore is a shomer sakhar.  According to R. Akiva, he does not have the right, and therefore is not a shomer sakhar but merely a shomer chinam.  According to Rav Yosef, however, the finder of a lost object should always be a shomer sakhar, regardless of whether or not he may use the money into which  the lost object is converted!  In other words, Rav Yosef must hold that the finder is a shomer sakhar even according to R. Akiva, since he has that status automatically, as the person responsible for a lost object.  How then, does Rav Yosef understand the mishna? 

    The gemara explained that according to Rav Yosef, the machloket about use of the money is not about whether the finder is a shomer chinam or a shomer sakhar.  As Rav Yosef holds in general, the finder is always a shomer sakhar.  R. Akiva and R. Tarfon disagree as to whether the finder may use the money.  If he may, then he becomes a shoel with regard to the money.  If he is not allowed to use it , then he remains a shomer sakhar

Up to this point we have summarized the material we covered last week.  Now let us proceed with the rest of the sugya. It is a good idea to go over the gemara we learned last week, starting on 28b, "ma yehei ba-damim מה יהא בדמים"  until "lo havi shoel alayhu לא הוי שואל עלייהו" , lines 1-5 in the schematic analysis.  Then continue on 29a from "Iy hakhi אי הכי"  until lefikhakh de-rabi Tarfon לפיכך דרבי טרפון".  Lines 6-9 in the schematic analysis. 

    The gemara challenges the Rav Yosef's explanation of the mishna.  Rav Yosef had explained that the finder is already a shomer sakhar; he or she becomes liable for onesin (unavoidable accidents for which a shoel is liable) on the money for which the lost object was exchanged, according to R. Tarfon, because he has the right to use it.  However, the mishna also explains R. Akiva's position - he is not liable for onesin because he does not have the right to use it.  What is the point of this explanation of R. Akiva's position in the mishna?  Is it not obvious that according to R. Akiva he could not be liable for onesin?  How could someone be liable for onesin if he has no right to use the object?

    The same sort of question does not apply to Raba's interpretation of the mishna.  According to Raba's interpretation, it is clear why the mishna needs to state explicitly that according to R. Akiva the finder is not liable because he may not use the object.  If the mishna had omitted this statement, one might have thought that R. Akiva disagrees with R. Tarfon only with regard to whether the finder may use the money.  R. Tarfon holds that he may use it and the right to do so makes him a shomer sakhar.  R. Akiva holds that he may not use it, but he is still liable as a shomer sakhar because, like Rav Yosef, he holds that every finder is like a shomer sakhar.

    In order to prevent such an interpretation, the mishna needed to state R. Akiva's position more explicitly - that R. Akiva does not hold the finder liable at all (i.e.; he is not even shomer sakhar) because he has no right to use the money.  Thus, according to Raba, both R. Akiva and R. Tarfon agree that the basic status of the finder of a lost object is that of a shomer chinam.  They disagree as whether this status changes to that of shomer sakhar in a case where the lost object is exchanged for money.  Since the finder may use the money, says R. Tarfon, he subsequently becomes a shomer sakhar.  R. Akiva argues that he may not use the money and as such remains a shomer chinam.

The very long Tosafot that takes up most of the page on 29a is mostly a discussion of how to rule in the makhloket between Rav Yosef and Raba.  This makhloket remains unresolved to this day.  The Tosafot rule that the halakha is according to Raba while the Rambam rules according to Rav Yosef.  The Shulchan Arukh follows the Rambam, while the Rama quotes the opinion of the Tosafot.  The Shach rules that we treat this question as a sefeika de-dina, as an unresolved question. 

    The gemara answers the difficulty posed to Rav Yosef's interpretation of the mishna in a very simple way.  It is true that Rav Yosef's position does not explain the mishna's elaboration of R. Akiva's position very well.  But who says that the mishna is so conscientious about not making superfluous statements?  There are also literary and stylistic considerations that go into shaping the language of the mishna.  This, would say Rav Yosef, is an instance of such a stylistic consideration.  In order to maintain the literary balance between R. Akiva's statement and R. Tarfon's, the mishna included an explanation of R. Akiva's position, even though such an explanation is obvious. 

    Learn now on 29a from "u-lefikhakh de-Rabi Tarfon ולפיכך דרבי טרפון" until "sefinato ba-yam ספינתו בים" on the top of 29bLines 10-13 in the schematic analysis. 

    The gemara continues its investigation of Rav Yosef's reading of the mishna.  Rav Yosef claims that the mishna included an explanation of R. Akiva's position only to furnish stylistic balance to the explanation of R. Tarfon's position.  Why, then, does the mishna include an explanation of R. Tarfon's position?*  

*The Tosafot, s.v. lefikhakh לפיכך ask about this question.  Of course the mishna needs to explain R. Tarfon's position!  After all, it is not obvious that the right to use the money makes the finder more liable, such that he is even responsible for onesin.  The Tosafot claim that when the the gemara asks "what is the point of R. Tarfon's 'therefore'?", it is not posing a genuine question, set up to challenge Rav Yosef's interpretation of the mishna.  Rather it is merely a rhetorical way of introducing the subsequent elaboration of R. Tarfon's position, which is not made entirely clear in the mishna.

    The gemara explains that if the mishna had not stated explicitly that according to R. Tarfon the increased liability is a function of the finder's right to use the money, we might have thought that the finder becomes liable only when he or she actually uses it.  Remember that according to Rav Yosef's understanding of R. Tarfon, the finder is a shoel regarding the money that stands in place of the lost object.  It seems to make sense that he becomes a shoel, a borrower, only when he actually uses the money, while until then he remains a shomer sakhar as he was regarding the lost object itself.  The gemara explains that the mishna includes the explanation of R. Tarfon's position precisely in order to preclude this understanding.  The finder becomes a shoel the moment he or she converts the lost object into cash, since he or she has the right to use it from then on. 

    The gemara continues to challenge Rav Yosef's understanding of the mishna:  After all, in describing the liability of the finder, the mishna explicitly says, "if it [the money the lost object was converted into] was lost, he is held responsible."  As we know, a shomer sakhar is liable for loss or theft, while a shoel is liable even for onesin.  If the mishna is saying that the finder is a shoel, like Rav Yosef thinks, why would it use the example of loss?  Does that not imply that the finder is liable only for loss, and not for onesin?

    The gemara responds by quoting an ukimta made be Raba in another context.  The terms "stolen" and "lost" can sometimes be a kind of ones.  Theft is an ones when one is held up by armed robbers.  Loss is ones when it is the result of one's ship sinking at sea.  A shomer sakhar, who is liable for theft and loss, would not be held liable in such cases.  Only a shoel, who is liable for any ones, can be held responsible under such circumstances.  According to Rav Yosef, when the mishna uses the term 'lost' it refers to such a case, of lost by ones

    Learn now, on 29b, from "Amar Rav Yehuda amar Shmuel אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל" until the mishna.  Lines 14-18 in the schematic analysis. 

    The gemara next records Rav Yehuda's ruling , in the name of Shmuel, that the halakha is in accordance with R. Tarfon.*

*In the absence of a resolution of the makhloket between Raba and Rav Yosef, as mentioned above, the implications of this ruling remain unclear.  According to Raba's interpretation, the finder becomes a shomer sakhar while according to Rav Yosef he becomes a shoel.    

 This ruling was put into practice by Rav Yosef.  A person named Rechava was given charge of money that belonged to orphans.  He inquired of Rav Yosef as to whether he may make use of the money until the orphans have grown old enough to come into their inheritance.  Following Rav Yosef's position, if he is permitted to use the money, he would have the liability of a shoel.  

    Rav Yosef originally ruled that Rechava may make use of the money.  He based his ruling on the fact that Shmuel ruled like R. Tarfon, and permitted the finder to make use of the money that is not his own.  Abaye, Rav Yosef's student, who was apparently present at this ruling, pointed out to Rav Yosef that his precedent was faulty.  R. Tarfon only allowed the use of the money into which the lost object had been converted.  Such permission does not apply to the original lost object even if what was found was cash.  The money belonging to the orphans resembles an original lost object and therefore cannot be used.

    Abaye explains the logic of this distinction, quoting Rav Huna.  Only in the case where the finder has already had to take some trouble, in exchanging the lost object for cash, do we subsequently permit him to use it.  When no trouble has been taken, it may not be used by the finder even when the lost object is cash, .  Likewise the orphan's money is the original money that belongs to them.  The person appointed to take care of it must do precisely that and cannot borrow it even if he takes full responsibility for its return.  Upon hearing Abaye's analysis, Rav Yosef retracted his original ruling and sent Rechava on his way, saying, "they won't let me permit you [to use it]. 

    This discussion of Rechava's question deserves further consideration.  Rav Yosef was perfectly aware that R. Tarfon and R. Akiva's makhloket applies to money exchanged for a lost object.  Why did he, at least originally, think that R. Tarfon's rule could apply to the orphan's money?  In order to understand this, I think we need to better appreciate the radicality of R. Tarfon's ruling.

    Everyone agrees that the finder of a lost object is a shomer of some sort.  Now both a shomer sakhar and a shomer chinam are categorically forbidden to make use of the object that they have been entrusted with.  To do so is a kind of theft, called shlichut yad שליחות יד, or embezzlement in modern parlance (the embezzler often claims that he intends to return the money).  In this context, R. Tarfon's allowing the finder to use the money exchanged for the lost object is a big surprise - why should the money be any different from the original lost object?

    Rav Yosef might have thought something like this:  Since money is fungible and so long as its value is maintained no one cares whether it is the original money that is returned, maybe R. Tarfon holds that any lost money may be used by the finder so long as he takes full responsibility for it.  R. Tarfon states his rule in the context of money exchanged for a lost object because usually money does not need to be returned at all, since ordinarily it does not have a siman.  A finder is most likely to be holding money as a "lost object" when it is a lost object with a siman that has been converted into cash.  The rule however, Rav Yosef thought, should apply to any money in the possession of the finder.  If so, it is not unreasonable to apply the same logic to the orphan's money, though it is a regular pikadon and not a lost object.   

    Abaye criticizes this logic by quoting the authoritative statement of Rav Huna that R. Tarfon's rule applies only to money exchanged for a lost object, since the finder took some trouble.  Apparently, the fungibility of money is not enough to prevent a shomer's use of it being considered shlichut yad.  Why should the fact that the finder had to take some trouble to exchange it make a difference?

    Ritva explains that this is an instance of a rabbinic enactment mi-penei tikun olam מפני תיקון עולם, for social reasons.  In principle, the finder should be forbidden to use even the money the object was converted into.  However, in order to encourage people to take responsibility for lost objects, even when it is something that is expensive to maintain and will require the further trouble of converting it into cash, the Rabbis enacted that in such a situation the finder may make use of the cash. 

    I would like to suggest a different explanation of the difference between the money for which the lost object was exchanged and simply found money.  Once it is permitted to exchange the lost object for money in order to preserve its value, it becomes much easier to allow its use.  The requirement of hashavat aveida is to return lost property to its owner.  In this case the owner is not going to receive his lost property anyway.  All that is left is a responsibility on the part of the finder to return the value of the lost object.  So long as he is committed to do so, there is no reason to prevent him from using the money.  In other words, the crucial difference is not the trouble the finder goes to, so much as the fact that he has already exchanged the lost object for money.

    To sum up, we have concluded the complex discussion of the makhloket between R. Tarfon and R. Akiva with a ruling in R. Tarfon's favor.  Along the way we drew the following conclusions:

1.  The makhloket is about the right to use the money into which the lost object was converted.  If there is no such right, as R. Akiva holds, there is no change in the finder's relation to the money.

2.  According to R. Tarfon the finder is allowed to use the money.  According to Raba this changes him from a shomer chinam (which is the regular status of the finder of a lost object) into a shomer sakhar.  According to Rav Yosef, it changes him from a shomer sakhar (the regular status) into a shoel

3.  According to R. Tarfon, the change in status is immediate upon conversion of the object into cash and does not depend on actual use.

4.  The whole discussion is limited to the cash obtained from the conversion of lost objects.  Money that has been found, or has been given over to someone to hold, may not be used. 

Next week, b'ezrat Hashem, we will review.  Chag Sameach to all. 

Schematic Analysis #29

Schematic analysis from 28b, "ma yehei ba-damim מה יהא בדמים" until the mishna on 29b. 

Translation of gemara

Schematic Analysis

Text of gemara

1.  "What happens with the money?  R. Tarfon says he may use it, etc.  

Quote from the mishna

1. מה יהא בדמים? רבי טרפון אומר ישתמש וכו'.

2. They [R. Tarfon and R. Akiva] disagree only when he [the finder] used it. But had not used it, if it was lost he is absolved [of responsibility]. qualification of the makhloket in the mishna.

2.  עד כאן לא פליגי . [דף כט עמ' א']אלא כשנשתמש בהן, אבל לא נשתמש בהן, אם אבדו - פטור.

3. Shall we say that this refutes R. Yosef?

Difficulty for Rav Yosef based on this interpretation of the mishna

3.   לימא תיהוי תיובתא דרב יוסף.

4.  For it has been stated. A shomer of lost property: Raba ruled, he is like a shomer chinam; Rav Yosef said, he is like a shomer sakhar

Elaboration of Rav Yosef's position vis-a-vis Raba.

4.  דאתמר, שומר אבידה. רבה אמר: כשומר חנם, רב יוסף אמר: כשומר שכר.

5.  Rav Yosef would answer you: As for theft and loss, all agree that he is responsible. They differ only in respect to onesin (unavoidable accidents), for which a borrower [alone is responsible]. R. Tarfon holds: The Rabbis permitted him [the finder] to use it, therefore he is a shoel with respect to it.  R. Akiva holds that the Rabbis did not permit him to use it, therefore he is not a shoel with respect to it. Explanation of the mishna according to Rav Yosef.

5.  אמר לך רב יוסף: בגניבה ואבידה - דכולי עלמא לא פליגי דחייב, כי פליגי - באונסין דשואל. רבי טרפון סבר: שרו ליה רבנן לאשתמושי בגוייהו, והוה ליה שואל עלייהו. ורבי עקיבא סבר: לא שרו ליה רבנן לאשתמושי בגוייהו, הלכך לא הוי שואל עלייהו. 

6.  If so, why does R. Akiva say 'Therefore?' 

Difficulty with Rav Yosef's explanation

6.  אי הכי, לפיכך דאמר רבי עקיבא למה לי?

7. if you agree that they differ concerning theft and loss, it makes sense - that is why it is taught:  'R. Akiva says he should not use it, therefore if it is lost he is not responsible.' I might have thought he is a shomer sakhar, in accordance with R. Yosef's view, and [thus] responsible for theft and loss; [the mishna thus] teaches us 'therefore, [etc.] i.e., since you say that he may not use it, he is not a shomer sakhar, and is not responsible for theft and loss. Elaboration of the difficulty - explanation of the mishna according to Raba.

7.  אי אמרת בשלמא בגניבה ואבידה הוא דפליגי - היינו דקתני רבי עקיבא אומר לא ישתמש בהן לפיכך אם אבדו אינו חייב באחריותן, סלקא דעתך אמינא שומר שכר הוי כדרב יוסף, ובגניבה ואבידה מחייב - קא משמע לן, לפיכך, השתא דאמרת לא ישתמש בהן - שומר שכר לא הוי, ולא מחייב בגניבה ואבידה.

8.  But if you say that all agree that he is responsible for theft and loss, and that they differ only in respect of onesin of a shoel,  what is the meaning of R. Akiva's 'Therefore'? Surely he [the Tana] should have stated thus: 'R. Akiva says he should not use it;' then I would have known myself that since he may not use it, he is not a borrower, hence not responsible. What then is the need of R. Akiva's 'Therefore? Elaboration of the difficulty in interpreting the mishna according to Rav Yosef.

8. אלא אי אמרת בגניבה ואבידה דכולי עלמא לא פליגי דחייב, כי פליגי - באונסין דשואל, מאי לפיכך דרבי עקיבא? - הכי מבעי ליה למתנא: רבי עקיבא אומר לא ישתמש בהן ואנא ידענא, דכיון דלא ישתמש בהן - לאו שואל הוי, ואינו חייב באחריותן, לפיכך דרבי עקיבא למה לי?  

9.  On account of R. Tarfon's 'Therefore'.  explanation of the mishna's usage according to Rav Yosef.

9. משום, לפיכך דרבי טרפון. 

10.  And what is the purpose of R. Tarfon's 'Therefore'? Question as to how Rav Yosef interprets the mishna.

10.   ולפיכך דרבי טרפון למה לי? 

11.  He means this: Since the Rabbis permitted him to use it, it is as though he had used it,  and he is [therefore] held responsible for it.

Rav Yosef's interpretation of the rest of the mishna

11.  הכי קאמר: כיון דשרו ליה רבנן לאשתמושי בגוייהו - כמאן דאישתמש בגוייהו דמי וחייב באחריותן. 

12.  But it is taught, 'if it is lost...'! difficulty with this interpretation.

12.  והא אבדו קתני! 

13. [29b] It is in accordance with Raba; for Raba said [elsewhere]: 'stolen' [refers to a case where something was] stolen by armed robbers, 'lost' means that his ship sank at sea.

Explanation of the mishna that avoids the difficulty.

13.  [עמ' ב'] - כדרבה, דאמר רבה: נגנבו - בלסטים מזויין, אבדו - שטבעה ספינתו בים.

14.Rav Yehuda said in Samuel's name: The halakha is according to R. Tarfon. Ruling in the makhloket between R. Tarfon and R. Akiva.

14. אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל: הלכה כרבי טרפון.

15.  Rechava had in his charge money belonging to orphans. He went before R. Yosef and enquired. 'May I use it?' Account of a case brought before Rav Yosef.

15.  ביד רחבה הוה ליה הנהו זוזי דיתמי, אתא לקמיה דרב יוסף, אמר ליה: מהו לאשתמושי בגוייהו?

16. He said to him, 'Thus did Rav Yehuda say in Samuel's name, The halakha is according to R. Tarfon. Rav Yosef's ruling.

16.  אמר ליה, הכי אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל: הלכה כרבי טרפון. 

17.   Abaye protested, But was it not stated thereon: R. Chelbo said in R. Huna's name: This refers only to the money [set aside in place] of a lost article, since he took trouble with it,  but not to money which was itself lost property and he did not have to take trouble with it.   

Difficulty raised by Abaye with that rulinng.

17. אמר ליה אביי: ולאו אתמר עלה, אמר רבי חלבו אמר רב הונא: לא שנו אלא בדמי אבידה, הואיל וטרח בה, אבל מעות אבידה דלא טרח בהו - לא. והני כמעות אבידה דמו. 

18.  Go then,' said he to him;  'they do not permit me to permit you.' Retraction of the ruling.

18.  אמר ליה: זיל, לא שבקו לי דאשרי לך. 



Selections from Rashi 28b -29a.

Rashi Text


כשנשתמש - לאו דוקא, אלא משום שכר שימוש קאמר, מפני שמותר להשתמש בהן.

ke-shenishtamesh,when he [the finder] has used it -  not exactly. (i.e. do not interpret that literally).  Rather, he says it is because of the profit from use - since it is permitted to use it. 

כשומר שכר - וחייב בגניבה ואבידה, דשומר שכר מצוה הוא, דהעוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה.

ke-shomer sakhar, like a shomer sakhar - and liable for theft and loss, for he receives the reward of performing a mitzva, in that while he is performing one mitzva he is absolved from performing another.   

Key Words and Phrases

בגוה, בגוייהו בו, בהם

be-gava, be-gavyhu - [with] it, [with] them

הכי מביעי ליה... כך צריך

hakhi miba'i lei - [like] this it is necessary...

סלקא דעתך אמינא היה עולה על דעתך לומר

salka da'atakh amina - you would have thought to say

General vocabulary

ones - unavoidable accident(s)


אונס, אונסין

acharayut, acharayutan - responsible, liable (for them)

אחריות, אחריותן

le-mitna - to teach [in a mishna or a baraita] לשנות


pikadon - object that has been given to a shomer for safekeeping (and or use)



shoel - borrower.  Responsible for the object even in cases of unpreventable loss, i.e., ones.



sokher - a renter (of an object rather than property).  The sokher is responsible for theft and loss but not for unavoidable loss, i.e., ones.


shomer - a bailee, i.e. a guardian of someone else's property.


shomer chinam - lit.  'free guardian'.  A shomer who receives no payment.  A shomer chinam is responsible for the object only when it is lost due to his negligence. 

שומר חנם

shomer sakhar - lit. 'hired guardian'.  A shomer who is payed for his keeping of the object.  A shomer sakhar is responsible for theft and loss, but not for unavoidable loss, i.e., ones.

שומר שכר