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A particular synagogue has large numbers of abandoned tallesim and tefilin in the drawers in the chapel.

Does the synagogue have the right to dispose of objects abandoned there?

Does the law change where these objects were designed to be used for mitzvos, and are no longer fit because of their decay?

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Welcome Yochanan, do you perhaps have a question you'd like to ask? – Seth J Mar 20 '13 at 21:44
Shulls usually keep tallesim for guests or people who forgot theirs. Same for tefilin. Are the items pasul? – Ariel Mar 20 '13 at 22:22

This may not actually help with your specific question, but in many shul's there is a sign saying something to the effect of "By leaving your items here, you agree that after 30 (or some other number) days we may dispose of them".

That avoids the issue, but I understand it doesn't help to know that when there is no sign.

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In Rav Avigdor Nebontzols Kuntres Hahanhagos(it is in his six chelek of Mishna Brurah) 43:

Things found in a yeshiva need to settled when Eliyahu comes.He writes that it is best for them to publicize that anything left after so and so time is hefker or belongs to the yeshiva.

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Rabbi Isaac Yosef in ילקוט יוסף writes to the effect that a public sign can effect the transfer of ownership of a lost object to the synagogue:

מן הראוי שבמקומות ציבוריים, כמו ישיבה ומוסדות צבור, הנהלת הישיבה או המוסד יכתבו הודעה במקום גלוי, שלפי תקנת המוסד כל מי שלא יבא לקחת חפציו או את ספריו עד זמן מסויים, אין המוסד אחראי עליהם, וההנהלה תשתמש בהם כרצונה.

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This article deals extensively with the laws of lost property.

Two paragraphs excerpted may help but CYLOR.

There is no obligation to return an item--even if it is worth a perutah--if it is clearly insignificant and the owner does not care about it.

The mitzvah of hashovas aveida applies only as long as the owner of the item expects and hopes that the item will be found and returned. If, however, the owner has despaired of recovering his loss and has written it off, the Torah does not obligate the finder to fulfill the mitzvah of hashovas aveida.

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The question depends on how a shul is viewed. As private property owned by the people who donated towards it or as "Hekdesh" If a shul is considerd "Hekdesh" the the rule "Ein Yad LeHekdesh" applies and a automatic kinyan can not be made just by being left in the shul. [ Tosafot explians the the reason for the distinction of "Ein Yad Lehekdesh." The fact that a person's domain can effect an acquisition is because it is considered an extension of his hand; yet Hekdesh has no hand to "extend.] Therefore all items left in a shul (according to this view) still belong to their original owners and the Gabbaim have no right to throw them out.

For that reason many Shuls put up a sign like @andrewmh20 mentioned to get around this issue i.e. by entering the Shul you do so on the condition that if you forget anything then after 30 days the Shul can dispose of the item.

Here is the best i could do for a source at this time.


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