Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Of rights and sites

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I bought a book through an online bookstore and it says inside it belongs to a well-known yeshiva. I contacted the yeshiva and they confirmed that it belongs to them. What do I do?


A. In general, the rule in Torah law is that anytime an object makes its way into our hands, we have an obligation to return it to the owner. The Torah commands this return in two places:


If you encounter the ox of [even] your enemy, or his ass, straying in the way, surely return it to him. (Exodus 23:4)

Don't see your brother's ox, or his sheep, straying and ignore them; surely return them to your brother. (Deuteronomy 22:1)


From the point of view of the original Torah law, there is really no difference how the lost object made it into your hands. If it was lost and you can identify the owner, you have to take steps to return the object. (As we explained in previous columns, you are not required to incur net expenses to do so.)


However, Jewish law, just like civil law, makes certain provisions for objects obtained in good faith in an open marketplace. The Talmudic sages made a regulation known as "rectification of the market" (takanas hashuk) that enables a person to recover lost property yet prevents a person from suffering a loss if he makes a purchase in good faith. Good faith means that he did not know, and had no reason to know, that the merchandise was stolen. They were worried that if inadvertently buying a stolen object would result in a total loss, people would be reluctant to buy and general commerce would suffer.


In this case, the buyer still has to fulfill the commandment of returning the lost object, but the original owner has to reimburse him for the price of his purchase (assuming it is a fair market price). Any legal action against the thief will be taken by the original owner, who is left with a monetary loss.(1)


The logic behind requiring the payment is to encourage market activity; the logic behind the return is that the original owner values the object particularly highly. There are many different justifications for this idea. From an economic standpoint, we would say that the fact that the original owner refrained from selling the object even though he could have obtained the same price as the thief proves that he values it more highly than the thief did and more than we know the purchaser does. From a psychological point of view, we know that people develop an attachment to their property over time. There is also a spiritual element that until ownership is uprooted we view a special providential connection between a person and his possession.


This rule is subject to various conditions. First of all, if the original owner can be assumed to have given up hope of ever recovering the object, the subsequent owner may obtain full ownership, what is sometimes known in secular law as "clear title". Second of all, the acquisition must really be in good faith. If the site, or the particular vendor, involved have a shady reputation which you could have verified, this condition may not hold. If you had reason for suspicion you may be obligated simply to return the book. Finally, what we just explained is the Jewish law approach. There may be various secular laws and regulations which would change the picture. Since this column does not discuss issues of secular law, we cannot even relate to these.


Note that actual application of takanas hashuk in your case would be problematic. In your case we are discussing a standard object. The book that you obtained is exactly identical to another copy the yeshiva would obtain. It is true that a private individual develops a special attachment to his books, and particularly to religious books, and probably most people would be very reluctant to trade their familiar prayer books for a new and "better" one. But this consideration rarely applies to an institution such as a yeshiva.


In other words, the yeshiva would probably find the prospect of receiving your copy of the book and returning you the money very unattractive. It is probably better for both of you if the book remains in your hands, though you should certainly notify them and give them the option. The yeshiva will probably want to obtain from you the contact details of the seller so that they can try and obtain recompense from him. Even if the book was taken inadvertently, the taker still has to return it to the original owner. That is the essence of the mitzvah to return lost objects.


According to Jewish law, you should offer to return the book to the yeshiva and obtain recompense, but probably they will be more interested in the contact details of the seller so that they can try to recover the value of the book.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Kamma 141a

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

To comment or pose a question, please click here.

ARCHIVES



JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.









© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics