I found a child’s toy in my possession (I’d estimate it’s worth around $15) and I can’t determine who the owner is. I work in children’s homes and asked a number of parents who I thought may own it, but each of them denied that it belongs to them. What do I need to do at this point?
Essentially this would be a very difficult situation, recently however the poskim (Horav Z. N. Goldberg zt”l, ibchl”ch Horav Naftali Nussbaum, Rav Yehuda Silman, Horav M. Sternbuch, Horav M. Sternbuch and numerous other poskim) have recommended certain gemachim, which offer a wonderful idea for all those who owe people money, but they don’t know who, and therefore can’t contact them in order to return the money to them. The idea of the gemach is the person deposits the amount of money (via credit card) that they mistakenly stole, the value of the item that was taken, or th4e value of an object that was damaged and the owner is not known, and the gemach acquires the money for the person to whom it is owed, whoever it may be. This works with the rule “זכין לאדם שלא בפניו”, that one may benefit someone else even without his knowledge. After the gemach “acquires it for the person to whom it is owed, they will lend the money out to other people, in the name of the person to whom it belongs. If the owner of the money is ever discovered, the money can be taken out of the gemach, and returned to the rightful owner. The money will stay in the gemach, IY”H until moshiach comes, when its rightful owner will then become known.
There are two such gemachs in Eretz Yisroel. Here are their numbers. Neki Kapayim 972- 77-229-9448, the transfer of the monies, done over the phone, will be done IY”H on Erev Yom Kippur at 3pm Eretz Yisroel time, by Rav Binyomin Finkel shlit”a.
There is another gemach that works in the same idea called V’heishiv, (also in E. Yisroel) at 972- 79- 961-8716.
Have a gmar chasiva tova