Bava Kamma 57aבבא קמא נ״ז א
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57aנ״ז א

החזירה למקום שיראנה אינו חייב לטפל בה נגנבה או אבדה חייב באחריותה

If one found a lost item and he returned it to a place where its owner will see it, he is no longer responsible to deal with it. If the item was stolen or lost, the finder bears financial responsibility to compensate for the loss.

מאי נגנבה או אבדה לאו נגנבה מביתו ואבדה מביתו

Rav Yosef states his objection: What is meant by the expression: Was stolen or lost? Does it not mean that it was stolen from the finder’s house or lost from his house before he returned it? Since he is liable for theft or loss, it appears that he has the same status as a paid bailee.

לא ממקום שהחזירה

Rabba rejects this challenge: No, it means that it was stolen or lost from the place where the finder returned it, in which case even an unpaid bailee is liable on the grounds of negligence.

והא קתני אינו חייב ליטפל בה

Rav Yosef challenges Rabba’s response: But the baraita teaches that the finder is no longer responsible to deal with it, indicating that failing to deal with it is not negligence, and the finder has no further responsibility for it.

א"ל הכא במאי עסקינן כגון שהחזירה בצהרים

Rabba said to him: With what are we dealing here, at the end of the baraita, where it teaches that the finder is liable? We are dealing with a case where he returned it at midday, which is a time when the owner of the lost item is not typically present. Therefore, the finder has not returned the item properly, and if it is then stolen or lost, he bears responsibility even if he is an unpaid bailee.

ותרתי קתני והכי קתני החזירה שחרית למקום שיראנה ושכיח דעייל ונפיק וחזי לה אינו חייב ליטפל בה החזירה בצהרים למקום שיראנה דלא שכיח דעייל ונפיק דלא חזי לה ונגנבה או אבדה חייב באחריותה

And the baraita is teaching two separate halakhot, and this is what it is teaching: If the finder returned it in the morning, when people are typically present, to a place where the owner of the lost item will see it, and the owner typically enters and exits and it is likely that he will see it, the finder is no longer responsible to deal with it, nor does he bear responsibility if it is then stolen or lost. By contrast, if the finder returned it at midday to a place where the owner will see it, since it is a time when the owner does not typically enter and exit and will not see it, if it is then stolen or lost the finder bears financial responsibility for the loss.

איתיביה לעולם הוא חייב עד שיחזירנה לרשותו מאי לעולם לאו אפילו מביתו ש"מ כשומר שכר דמי

Rav Yosef again raised an objection to the opinion of Rabba from that which is taught in the continuation of the baraita: The finder of the lost item always bears responsibility if the item is stolen or lost until he returns it to the owner’s property. What does the word always add? Is it not teaching that even if the lost item was stolen from the finder’s house, he is liable? If so, learn from this that one who finds a lost item is considered like a paid bailee.

א"ל מודינא לך בבעלי חיים דכיון דנקטי להו ניגרא ברייתא בעי נטירותא יתירתא

Rabba said to Rav Yosef in reply: I concede to you in a case of one looking after lost animals that he is liable if they are stolen or lost. The reason is that since the animals have already taken to the habit of walking out of their usual path and not behaving in their typical manner, they require extra safeguarding, corresponding to that required of a paid bailee. But with regard to other items that are lost, those that do not move by themselves, the finder bears no greater responsibility to secure them than does an unpaid bailee.

איתיביה רבה לרב יוסף (דברים כב, א) השב אין לי אלא בביתו לגינתו ולחורבתו מנין ת"ל תשיבם מכל מקום

Rabba raised an objection to the opinion of Rav Yosef: The verse states in the context of returning lost items: “Return them” (Deuteronomy 22:1), repeating the verb “hashev teshivem.” The Sages expounded as follows: From the word hashev” I have derived only that one may return the item to the house of the owner of the lost article. From where do I derive that even if one returns it to his garden or to his ruin, i.e., an unused structure on his property, he has discharged his obligation and is no longer responsible for the item that he found? For this, the verse states: “Teshivem,” repeating the verb for emphasis, to teach that he fulfills the mitzva by returning the item to any place belonging to the owner.

מאי לגינתו ולחורבתו אילימא לגינתו המשתמרת ולחורבתו המשתמרת היינו ביתו אלא פשיטא לגינתו שאינה משתמרת ולחורבתו שאינה משתמרת ש"מ כשומר חנם דמי

What is the meaning of the phrase in the baraita: To his garden or to his ruin? If we say that the finder returned the lost item to the garden of the owner that is secured, i.e., properly enclosed, or to his ruin that is secured, it would be unnecessary to state this, as it is the same as his house, since these spaces are secured in the same way as his house. Rather, it is obvious that it means that he returned them to his garden that is not secured, or to his ruin that is not secured, and nevertheless, the finder is no longer liable for subsequent damage or theft of the found item. Conclude from it that a finder is like an unpaid bailee in terms of his liabilities, and this reduced level of safeguarding when returning the item is sufficient.

א"ל לעולם לגינתו המשתמרת ולחורבתו המשתמרת ודקא קשיא לך היינו ביתו הא קא משמע לן דלא בעינן דעת בעלים כדרבי אלעזר

Rav Yosef said to him: Actually, one can explain that the baraita is referring to a case where the finder placed it in the owner’s garden that is secured, or his ruin that is secured; and with regard to that which poses a difficulty to you, that this is the same as his house, there is nevertheless a novelty in this ruling: This teaches us that in this case we do not require the owner’s knowledge that the article has been returned, and this is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Elazar.

דא"ר אלעזר הכל צריכין דעת בעלים חוץ מהשבת אבידה שהרי ריבתה בו תורה השבות הרבה

As Rabbi Elazar says: All those who are obligated to return items to their owners, e.g., a bailee or a thief, require the owner’s knowledge that they are returning it except for one fulfilling the mitzva of returning a lost item. This is because the Torah included many permitted ways of returning lost items by employing the double expression “hashev teshivem,” which serves to permit the return of the lost item without the knowledge of the owner.

א"ל אביי לרב יוסף ואת לא תסברא דשומר אבידה כשומר חנם דמי והא אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן הטוען טענת גנב באבידה משלם תשלומי כפל ואי ס"ד שומר שכר הוי אמאי משלם תשלומי כפל קרנא בעי שלומי

Abaye said to Rav Yosef: And you, do you not hold that one safeguarding a lost item is like an unpaid bailee? But doesn’t Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba say that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: With regard to one who finds a lost item but falsely states the claim that a thief stole the item from him and takes an oath to that effect, he must pay a double payment, i.e., twice the value of the item. And if it enters your mind that the finder of a lost item is considered to have the same status as a paid bailee, why in such a case must he pay a double payment? He should be required to pay only the principal, since a paid bailee is liable in any event if the article is stolen or lost, and he did not stand to benefit from the claim that the item was stolen.

א"ל הכא במאי עסקינן כגון שטוען טענת לסטים מזויין

Rav Yosef said to him: With what are we dealing here? It is with a case where the finder took a false oath stating the claim that the deposit was taken by an armed bandit, and in such a case even a paid bailee is exempt. Consequently, his claim would have absolved him from liability, and if the item is subsequently found in his possession, he is liable to pay double for his false claim that it was stolen.

א"ל ליסטים מזויין גזלן הוא

Abaye said to him: But an armed bandit has the status of a robber and not of a thief, so according to this explanation, why did Rabbi Yoḥanan state that it was stolen by a thief?

א"ל שאני אומר לסטים מזויין כיון דמיטמר מאינשי גנב הוא

Rav Yosef said to him: The reason that only a thief pays the double payment and not a robber is that a thief denigrates God by exhibiting fear of people by stealing surreptitiously while not exhibiting fear of Heaven. This is in contrast to a robber, who robs openly. Accordingly, the reason that I say that an armed bandit is considered as a thief, is since he hides from people rather than stealing openly. Although he in fact does steal openly, since he does so by employing a weapon he also exhibits fear of people, and is akin to a thief. Therefore, armed bandits are liable to pay a double payment as is a thief, and a claim that the deposit was seized by armed bandits is considered to be the same as a claim that it was stolen by thieves. Consequently, since a paid bailee is absolved by means of such a claim, if it is determined that his claim was false he must pay double.

איתיביה

Abaye raised an objection to the opinion of Rav Yosef from that which is taught in a baraita: