After a visit from a close friend, a woman finds a gold bracelet on her couch. Immediately, she calls her friend and returns the bracelet. That’s a “no brainer.”

After a large luncheon at which she was a guest, a woman finds a gold bracelet on the ground in the parking lot. There is no lost and found. Should she keep it?

The Jewish laws of hashavat aveida, returning a lost object, are based on several verses in the Torah. One reference to this law is found in Deuteronomy 22:1-3:

You shall not see your brother’s ox or sheep wandering, and ignore them; you shall surely bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is far away, or you do not know him, you will bring it home to your house, and it will be with you until your brother asks for it, and then you shall give it back to him. And so shall you do with his donkey; and so shall you do with his garment; and so shall you do with every lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost, and you have found; you may not ignore it.

While the laws of hashavat aveida are quite intricate, one thing is certainly clear, “finders keepers” is not a Torah mind-set. However, neither is allowing yourself to be duped. In the case of the woman above, she would need to let it be known to those in attendance that a piece of jewelry was found, deliberately omitting specific details so that the owner could only claim the object by providing an accurate description of the lost article.

Because each case of a lost object has many nuances, Jewish Treats recommends that those who find lost objects consult with their local rabbi about the proper actions to take.

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