Question:

Good morning!
A few years ago ,our family went with our extended family for a “Shabbas away from home “ to a camp
E/ family stayed in df bungalow ,some kids combined …
Our family stayed in the camp nurses bungalow colony…
By mistake when we packed to go home,I took along 1 boys pants that’s not mine.(apparently it seems that the camp nurses family had left it there)
It was there in the drawer & I figured that it’s probably one of the kids (cousins)that left it there.when we came home,I did the calls to return the lost item to all my family members & e/o said it’s not theirs -which means I should’ve left it there.
Embarrassed to say ,but it’s been around 5 years later & it’s still by me ,neatly folded ,waiting on the dresser & even moved with us when we moved…I have no way to get to that camp as it’s a 3-4 hr’s drive& have no idea if the same family is still the camp mother there,& if yes who they are
Thanks so much !For taking from precious time to respond!
Kul tuv!

Answer:

I sympathize with your awkward position right now, but the best thing would be to call the head counselor or camp director, and get the name of the nurse etc. and call her and ask her. She will most probably tell you to forget about it, which is exactly what you would want to hear. If he situation is such that you can’t contact he owner and have no way of finding out who the owner is, there is another option. If you know the area that the person lives, you should donate the value of what you stole to some sort of public service that will benefit that person, such as a local park, local mikva or if that area has a local Hatzolah, which services everyone. This way we hope that the person who was stolen from will benefit from the money that you donated, and it would be partially considered having returned the money to him. The money is not to be donated to a charity, because a charity does not service everyone, but only poor people.

If the situation is such that you have no idea what area the person lives in, there is another option. To give the object or its value to someone else, in the sense that he is acquiring it as an agent for the person that it was stolen from. Then after it is considered in the owner’s possession, it’s value can be given to tzedakah in the merit of the owner of the money or object.

Sources:

Shuchan Aruch CH:M 367-2, Poskim.

Tags: returning stolen money

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