Jewish law (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 262) says that some lost objects are allowed to be kept by the finder. I understood that the reason is because the original owner had ye'ush (gave up hope). Seemingly that makes the item hefker (ownerless). So a new person can own this item. But we know that a minor can't Halachically transfer ownership of an item he owns. Like we see by the Lulav and Esrog, that if you give them to a minor, then the minor aquires it but can't give it back to you. You're stuck with him owning it.

So my question is: What happens if a minor owns an object and loses it, and this is an object that's allowed to be kept because the owner gives up hope. (and let's say you can tell that this object belonged to a minor. e.g. it's a kid-sized object.) So if a minor doesn't have the da'as or ability to make Halachic actions, then it would seem that his ye'ush (giving up hope) doesn't work on the object. So if a child's object never had Halachic ye'ush, is this object not allowed to be kept?

TLDR: If a Katan can't be mafkir or meya'esh (like we see by Dalet Minim), then it seems his aveidah should be chayiv lehachriz. So is every aveidas katan assur to keep?

  • 1
    A kid sized object usually belongs to a parent not a minor.
    – Double AA
    Apr 12, 2020 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


Nesivos Hamishpat (Choshen Mishpat) 260,6 11 (as the questioner correctly assumed) based on the Shulchan Aruch says that a minor can never give up hope and if it is known that a lost even without a siman (sign) belonged to a minor, one must return the item.

ואם היו של יתומים שאינם בני מחילה אסורים - לפ"ז ה"ה באבידה בדבר שאין בו סי' כשנתוודע לו בעדים שהוא של יתומים חייב להחזיר דאין יאוש מועיל בקטנים דהוי ייאוש שלא מדעת:

An item belonging to orphans cannot give away - so if a lost item doesn't have a recognition sign and it is known it belongs to minor orphans, one must return the item as giving up hope of retrieval does not help as their intent is not valid to make decisions.

  • Wow, that's a great source that directly deals with this. Thank you!
    – Ari
    Apr 13, 2020 at 22:34
  • Does this source seem to agree with Double AA that under normal circumstances we assume that the item was never acquired to the minor (rather the parent retains ownership and is just letting him use it). Because the Nesivos seems to want the case to be an orphan (where he must be the owner of the item, because his parents are not alive).
    – Ari
    Apr 13, 2020 at 22:38

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