Returning Lost Objects – Hashavat Aveidah Found: $18,000 Rolex at Times Square as the Ball Dropped on Dec. 31, 11:59:50 PM Can I Keep It?
Hashavat aveidah, returning lost objects, is a mitzvah all of us encounter in the course of our lives, either as the “finder” or the “loser.” These laws are unique; they differ from other legal systems since Judaism places a personal duty on anyone who is able, to rescue the lost property of others – a responsibility that does not exist in common law. Only Torah law requires the “finder” to initiate the process of retrieving the article. The demonstrated concern for another’s lost property defines the ethical tone of the mitzvah and shapes much of its practice.
This Gemara shiur addresses a range of practical cases, illustrating the basic parameters of hashavat aveidah. The shiur will culminate in the Times Square Rolex scenario, which will help illuminate the driving principle underlying the entire mitzvah.