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Steinsaltz

§ The mishna teaches that strings of fish are among the list of found items that one may keep. The Gemara asks: Why not let the knot with which the fish are tied serve as a distinguishing mark? The Gemara answers: The mishna is referring to the fisherman’s knot with which everyone ties his fish, which is not distinctive. The Gemara asks: But why not let the number of fish tied on the string serve as a distinguishing mark? The Gemara answers: The mishna is referring to a number of fish that is equal to that on all strings of fish in that area.

The Sages raised a dilemma before Rav Sheshet: In items that have no other distinguishing mark, is their number a distinguishing mark or is it not a distinguishing mark? Rav Sheshet said to them: You learned it in a baraita: If one found silver vessels, copper vessels, fragments of lead, and any metal vessels, that person who found them shall not return the item to its owner until the owner provides a distinguishing sign or until the owner accurately provides its weight. And from the fact that weight serves as a distinguishing mark, measure and number also serve as a distinguishing mark.

The mishna teaches that cuts of meat are among the list of found items that one may keep. The Gemara asks: Why not let the weight of the cut serve as a distinguishing mark? The Gemara answers: The mishna is referring to a weight that is equal, i.e., all cuts of meat in that area are of that weight. The Gemara asks: But why not let the cut of meat itself serve as a distinguishing mark, as it came, for example, either from the neck or from the thigh of the animal? Isn’t it taught in a baraita: If one found cuts of fish, or a fish that was bitten, he is obligated to proclaim his find, and if he found barrels of wine, or of oil, or of grain, or of dried figs, or of olives, these belong to him? Apparently, the distinguishing mark in the cuts of fish is the part of the fish from which they were cut.

The Gemara answers: With what are we dealing here in the baraita? It is in a case where there is a distinguishing mark in the shape of the cut, as in that case of Rabba bar Rav Huna who would cut the meat with three corners, forming a triangle. The distinguishing mark is not the part of the fish from where it had been cut. The language of the baraita is also precise, as the case of cuts of fish is taught juxtaposed to and similar to a fish that was bitten, in which case the bite is a distinguishing mark. The Gemara concludes: Learn from it that it is the shape of the cut that is a distinguishing mark, not the place from where it was cut.

The Master said in the baraita: If one found barrels of wine, or of oil, or of grain, or of dried figs, or of olives, these belong to him. The Gemara asks: But didn’t we learn in a mishna (25a): With regard to jugs of wine or jugs of oil, if one finds any of these he is obligated to proclaim his finding. Rabbi Zeira said that Rav said: The mishna is referring to a case of sealed jugs. Each person seals his jugs and barrels in a unique manner. Therefore, the seal constitutes a distinguishing mark. The Gemara asks: One may conclude by inference that the baraita is referring to a case of open barrels, and if it is referring to a case of open barrels, it is a deliberate loss. Since the wine in open barrels will spoil, it is obvious that one need not return it to the owner. Rav Hoshaya says: The baraita is referring to a case where one covers the barrel with the lid but does not seal it.

Abaye said: You can even say that both this mishna and that baraita are referring to jugs and barrels that are sealed, and it is not difficult. Here, in the mishna, where one is required to return the jugs, it is referring to a case where one found the jugs before the storehouses of wine were opened. At that point, the distinguishing mark of the seal proves that the jug belongs to its owner. There, in the baraita, where one is not required to return the barrels, it is referring to a case where one found the barrels after the storehouses of wine were opened. Since the storekeepers sold their barrels to the public, the seal would no longer serve as an indicator of the identity of the owner. This is just as in that case where Rav Ya’akov bar Abba found a barrel of wine after the storehouses were opened. He came before Abaye to ascertain what he should do with the barrel. Abaye said to him: Go take the barrel for yourself.

§ Rav Beivai raised a dilemma before Rav Naḥman: Is the location where the lost item was found a distinguishing mark, or is it not a distinguishing mark? Rav Naḥman said to him that you learned it in the baraita: If one found barrels of wine, or of oil, or of grain, or of dried figs, or of olives, these belong to him. And if it enters your mind that location is a distinguishing mark, let the finder proclaim what he found, and have the location serve as a distinguishing mark. Rav Zevid said: With what are we dealing here? We are dealing with the case of a barrel that was found on the bank of the river. Since it is the place where ships dock and merchandise belonging to many people is loaded and unloaded, the bank of a river cannot serve as a distinguishing mark.

Rav Mari said: What is the reason that the Sages said that in the case of a lost item, the location of the bank of a river is not a distinguishing mark? It is because we say to one seeking to reclaim his item by providing its location on the bank of a river: Just as it happened that you lost an item there, it also happened that another person lost an item there. Some say a slightly different version of that which Rav Mari said: What is the reason that the Sages said that location is not a distinguishing mark? It is because we say to one seeking to reclaim his item by providing its location: Just as it happened that you placed an item in that place, it also happened that another placed an item in that place.

The Gemara relates: There was a certain man who found pitch near the winepress. He came before Rav to ascertain what he should do with the pitch. Rav said to him: Go take the pitch for yourself. Rav saw that the man was hesitating, uncertain that he was entitled to the pitch. Rav, in an attempt to allay his qualms, said to him: Go divide it with Ḥiyya my son, as Rav would certainly not want his son to take a share of a stolen item. The Gemara suggests: Let us say that Rav holds that location is not a distinguishing mark. Rabbi Abba said: That is not Rav’s reasoning. Rather, it is due to the despair of its owner that the Sages touched upon this matter and permitted the finder to keep such a found item. As, Rav saw that grass was growing through the pitch, indicating that it had been there for an extended period.

§ The mishna teaches: Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: If one finds any anpurya vessels he is not obligated to proclaim his find. The Gemara asks: What are anpurya vessels? Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: They are new vessels, as the eye of its purchaser has not yet sufficiently seen them to be able to recognize them. The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances? If there is a distinguishing mark on the vessels, when the eye of its purchaser has not yet sufficiently seen them, what of it? He can describe the mark after even a short glance and claim his item. If there is no distinguishing mark on the vessels, then when the eye of the one who purchases them has sufficiently seen them, what of it?

The Gemara answers: Actually, it is a vessel in which there is no distinguishing mark, and the practical difference is with regard to returning the vessel to a Torah scholar on the basis of visual recognition. When the eye of a Torah scholar has sufficiently seen them he is certain about them, and we return a lost item to him on the basis of his description of the vessel. When the eye of a Torah scholar has not sufficiently seen them, he is not certain about them, and we do not return a lost item to him, as Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: With regard to these three matters alone, it is normal for Sages to amend their statements and deviate from the truth: With regard to a tractate, if he is asked whether he studied a particular tractate, he may humbly say that he did not, even if he did. And with regard to a bed, if he is asked whether he slept in a particular bed, he may say that he did not, to avoid shame in case some unseemly residue is found on the bed.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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