If someone came to my house and had in their pocket $100. When they were in my house the money was lost. After a few moments I find a $100 on the floor of my house. Is it pashut that it belongs to me because of “chatzer koneh”? Even if the person will say that they had a $100 and now they don’t, does it still belong to me? How far do we extend the klalim that when a person looses money he is normally misya’ash from it. My kavana with the question is more of a tzrich iyun that I’m trying to understand. I thought pashut that it should belongs to the owner of the house. However this was difficult for me to believe that even though the guy is standing right there and claiming to have lost it that it wouldn’t go to him. Perhaps the Rabbonim can bring some clarification to this with relevant mareh makomos.

Answer:

The money does not belong to you; provided it is clear that it fell from him, it must be returned.

Sources:

A number of points should be mentioned:

1. The Shach (262:4) rules that there is a minimal time before which a person doesn’t lose hope even for money (this matter involves a dispute among rishonim). Therefore, before a certain minimum time, we can’t assume that the person has discovered the loss and lost hope.

2. I a person knows that the person losing the money has not discovered his loss and hasn’t lost hope, the money must be returned.

3. The Rambam (14:5) implies that the principle of a person losing hope of lost money does not apply universally, and it depends on circumstances. A person on the way, who loses money, loses hope of retrieving it; this does not apply in a house.

3. The house (as a chatzer) does not acquire the money for you, because it fell into the house in a state of issur, before the owner gave up hope: See Rosh (Bava Metzia 2:9); Maharshal 26; Shach 268:2.

4. In any event there remains a mitzvah, lifnim mi-shuras ha-din, to return the money to its owner – even if he has give up hope.

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