Let's say person A finds a chicken that its owner lost. He takes the chicken in and tries to find the owner. While he is attempting to find the owner he pays for the food of the chicken and is aware that the owner will pay him back for the food. Eventually, he finds the owner and hands him the chicken with the bill for all the food the chicken ate. The owner sees the bill is higher than the cost of the chicken. Who is liable for the bill for the chicken's food?

  • 2
    Do you mean to first ask if the finder was required to care for the chicken to that extent? Or is this assuming he mistakenly thought he needed to?
    – Double AA
    May 21, 2021 at 0:09
  • There's a similar incident in Taanit 25a.
    – Alex
    May 21, 2021 at 0:43
  • אם יש שם בית דין, מתנה עימו בפני בית דין; ואם אין שם בפני מי יתנה, שלו קודם
    – kouty
    May 21, 2021 at 5:01
  • @DoubleAA I thought he could care for the object then charge the owner for the care. Was I wrong?
    – yogazefish
    May 21, 2021 at 16:46

1 Answer 1


It would have the same Halacha as anything else that isn't cost effective to keep (eg it will rot) it's value is assessed by Beis Din and then it is sold with the money held for the one who lost it.

The Mishna (BM 28B) says anything that eats but can not be used for productive work (to cover the cost of it's upkeep) should be sold in Beis Din. The Gemora (ibid) says you keep some ducks and chickens for thirty days before selling them (to give the owner a chance to re claim them - a chicken costs more than thirty days of chicken feed)

The Rambam (Gezalah V'Avaideh 13:15) says

מָצָא עֲגָלִים וּסְיָחִין שֶׁל רְעִי מְטַפֵּל בָּהֶן שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים. וְשֶׁל בְּרִיאָה שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. אֲוָזִים וְתַרְנְגוֹלִין גְּדוֹלִים מְטַפֵּל בָּהֶן שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. מָצָא קְטַנִּים וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁטִּפּוּלוֹ מְרֻבֶּה מִשְּׂכָרוֹ מְטַפֵּל בָּהֶן שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים. מִכַּן וְאֵילָךְ מוֹכְרָן בְּבֵית דִּין. וְכֵן פֵּרוֹת שֶׁהִתְחִילוּ לְהַרְקִיב וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מוֹכְרָן בְּבֵית דִּין

If one finds calves or ponies that pasture, he should care for them for three months. If he finds beasts that must be fed, he should care for them for 30 days. If he finds large geese or roosters, he should care for them for 30 days. If he finds younger fowl and any other live being whose care is more costly than the wage that may be earned with it, he should care for them for three days. Afterwards, he should sell them in the presence of a court. Similarly, if produce has begun to rot, or other similar things occur to a lost object, it should be sold in the presence of a court.

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