Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/260
Paragraph 1- If one finds an item in a pile or old wall that no one remembers who built, and the current resident and his ancestors were not the possessor since the beginning of time, the item would belong to the finder, so long as he found it down below where all old hidden items are found. If he sees items that may have been hidden recently, even if he is unsure, he may not touch them because they have been placed there. In the case of a new wall, which means it was known to have been built by the ancestor of the current resident and it never left that family’s possession, any found item from the halfway point and out would belong to the finder, even if it has an identifying mark, so long as it is rusty because the owners have certainly given up hope given the length of time it was there. Anything from halfway and within would belong to the owner, even if it was rusty. If the item takes up the entire wall, they would divide, even if the whole wall was slanted. We do not say it rolled from the higher area to the lower area.
Paragraph 2- When is this true? With respect to rags or metal bars where there is no indication which direction it came from. With respect to a knife or a bag, the item itself would indicate which direction it came from. If the handle of the knife or the straps of the bag were facing the outside, it certainly came from the outside and would belong to the finder, even if it was on the inner half of the wall. If it was facing the inside, it would belong to the homeowner, even if it was placed on the outer half of the wall.
Paragraph 3- When is true that an item on the inner half belongs to the homeowner? Where he claims it belongs to him or he is an inheritor where we claim on his behalf that it may have been his father’s. If he admits it is a lost item, however, it would belong to the finder. Thus, if the property was rented out to others, the item would belong to the last renter. If he rents it out to three idolaters together, he has made the property into an inn, and anything that is found there, even inside the house, would belong to the finder, because nobody else can claim it belongs to him or that it was hidden given that he made it into an inn.
Paragraph 4- If Reuven lives with Shimon in his house and pays rent, and a crippled deer or birds that cannot fly enter the house, both Reuven and Shimon would acquire them because they are like two partners in a courtyard. If one acquired a found item from a thief, however, the other party would not have rights to it.
Paragraph 5- If one finds money in a store between the counter and storekeeper, it would belong to the storekeeper. If he found them on the counter, and it goes without saying if it was found outside the counter, it would belong to the finder even if there was an identifying mark. There are those who say that money found on the counter belongs to the storekeeper. If one found money in a money-changer’s store between the chair and the money-changer, it would belong the money-changer. If he found it on the chair in front of the money-changer, it would belong to the finder, even if they were piled and placed, so long as the area was majority-idolater, because otherwise he would be required to announce given that they are piled and thus have an identifying mark.
Paragraph 6- If one found dried figs on the road, he may keep it, even if it was found next to a field of dried figs. Similarly, if a fig tree was leaning onto the road and figs were found underneath, the finder may keep it because the owners have given up on them given that figs and similar items become disgusting when they fall. In a case of olives, carobs or anything similar, however, the finder would be prohibited from keeping them. If the wind blows off dates, the finder may keep them because there is a presumption that the owner waived them for everybody given that domestic and wild animals eat them due to their sweetness. If the dates belong to orphans who are incapable of waiving, they would be prohibited. Similarly, if the owner of the field was particular and surrounded the area of the trees with walls or he created an area where the dates would fall so that he can pick them, they would be prohibited because he has revealed his intention not to waive.
Paragraph 7- If one found scattered fruits on the threshing floor and it was one kav in four or more amos, the finder can keep it because the owners would not trouble themselves to gather them. If they were scattered in less than four amos, the finder may not touch them because the owner may have placed them there. The same applies to more than one kav in four amos. If there was approximately half a kav in two amos or two kav in eight amos, or the kav consisted of two or three different species, such as dates and sesame, the ruling in all these cases is uncertain and thus one may not take it. If he does take it, he is not required to announce. There are those who say that even dates alone or anything similar, where the burden of gathering is insignificant, or sesame alone which is valuable, is an uncertain case.
Paragraph 8- If a bird was hopping and unable to fly and was found within 50 amos of a nest, the bird would belong the owner of the nets. If it was found outside 50 amos, it would belong to the finder because a bird cannot hop more than 50 amos. If it was found a vineyard-path, it would belong to the nest-owner, even if it was more than 50 amos. If it was found between nests, it would belong to the closer one. If it was exactly equal, the two nest-owners would divide. When is this true? Where the amount of the birds of the two nests are the same. If one of the nests have more birds, however, we would follow the majority, even if it was farther. This is all with respect to birds that cannot fly. If they can fly, however, they would belong to the finder in all cases.
Paragraph 9- If one finds an item in a manner that it is placed, he is prohibited from touching it because the owners may have left it there until he returns, regardless of whether it has an identifying mark or does not have an identifying mark. If the finder were to take it and it is something without an identifying mark, he has destroyed the money of another because there is no identifying mark which will allow him to return it. If it something with an identifying mark, he has burdened the owner to pursue him and give the identifying mark. Thus, one is prohibited from touching an item unless he found the item in a fallen-manner. Even if he is uncertain whether this item or lost or placed, he should not touch it. If he went ahead and took it, he s prohibited from returning it there. If it is something that has no identifying mark, regardless of whether he is uncertain whether it was placed or fell, or it was in the a private domain or a public domain, he would be obligated to announce.
Paragraph 10- How so? If one found a garment or a hatchet next to the fence, he may not touch it. If he found it on a public street, he would take and announce. If he found birds tied by their wings and hopping behind a stone fence or behind a wall-closing or paths in the fields, one may not touch them because the owners may have placed them there. If he took them, he may keep it. If they were tied with a knot that is an identifying mark, he would be required to announce. Similarly, if the found them set in their place, he would be required to announce because location is an identifying markup. This is all the opinion of the Rambam. There those who disagree, however, and say there are three categories. If it something guarded like a garment or hat next to a fence and he is uncertain whether the owner placed it there, he may not touch it, whether it has an identifying mark or not. If he went ahead and took it and brought it to house and it has an identifying mark, he would announce it. If it did not have an identifying mark, it should be left until Eliyahu arrives. If he did not bring it to his house, he should return and place it in its location. In a place that is completely unguarded, even if the owner definitely placed it there and there is no identifying mark on the item or location, it would belong to the finder. If it has an identifying mark he would take and announce. If it is a place that is partially guarded, such as paths in a fields, even if it was uncertain whether he placed it there, if there was an identifying mark he would take an announce. If it has no identifying mark on the item or location, he may not take it. If he took it with his hand but did not bring it to his house, he should not return it because it not a well-guarded location. Instead, it should be left until Eliyahu arrives. This seems to me to be the primary view.
Paragraph 11- If one found a covered vessel in the dumpster, he may not touch it. When is this true? With respect a dumpster that is never cleaned out. If it was a dumpster that was originally made to be cleaned out, if one hides an item there it is an intentionally-misplaced item and the finder can keep it. If it is a dumpster that is not generally cleaned out but they changed and decided to clean it, even he found the item covered he would take it and announce. Similarly, if the vessels were small, such as a knife, a spit or something similar, even if they were covered in a permanent dumpster he would take and announce because it is possible they were thrown there when the house was cleaned.