By: Shlomo Stern | Director, Moshava Ba’ir New Jersey
In the second Aliya of this week’s Parasha, Parshat Ki-Teitzei, in the first few Pesukim of Perek 22 the Torah teaches us about the positive Mitzvah of Hashavat Aveida, returning a lost item, and the negative commandment of ignoring the opportunity to fulfill this Mitzvah and help another person.
(א) לֹא תִרְאֶה אֶת שׁוֹר אָחִיךָ אוֹ אֶת שֵׂיוֹ נִדָּחִים וְהִתְעַלַּמְתָּ מֵהֶם הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֵם לְאָחִיךָ. (ב) וְאִם לֹא קָרוֹב אָחִיךָ אֵלֶיךָ וְלֹא יְדַעְתּוֹ וַאֲסַפְתּוֹ אֶל תּוֹךְ בֵּיתֶךָ וְהָיָה עִמְּךָ עַד דְּרֹשׁ אָחִיךָ אֹתוֹ וַהֲשֵׁבֹתוֹ לוֹ. (ג) וְכֵן תַּעֲשֶׂה לַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֵן תַּעֲשֶׂה לְשִׂמְלָתוֹ וְכֵן תַּעֲשֶׂה לְכָל אֲבֵדַת אָחִיךָ אֲשֶׁר תֹּאבַד מִמֶּנּוּ וּמְצָאתָהּ לֹא תוּכַל לְהִתְעַלֵּם.
(1) You shall not watch your brother’s ox or sheep run away, and ignore it. You must return it to your brother (2) And if your brother is not close to you, and you don’t know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall be with you until your brother claims it, and you shall give it back to him. (3) And so shall you do with his donkey; and so shalt you do with his garment; and so shalt thou do with every lost thing that belongs to your brother, which he has lost, and you have found.
We have another Pasuk in Vayikra Perek 5 Pasuk 23 which also teaches us about the Mitzvah of Hashavat Aveida:
23and it shall be, when he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall return the article which he had robbed, or the funds which he had withheld, or the item which had been deposited with him, or the article which he had found;
כגוְהָיָה֘ כִּי־יֶֽחֱטָ֣א וְאָשֵׁם֒ וְהֵשִׁ֨יב אֶת־הַגְּזֵלָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר גָּזָ֗ל א֤וֹ אֶת־הָע֨שֶׁק֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׁ֔ק א֚וֹ אֶת־הַפִּקָּד֔וֹן אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָפְקַ֖ד אִתּ֑וֹ א֥וֹ אֶת־הָֽאֲבֵדָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר מָצָֽא:
Why does the Torah need to have 2 separate sources to teach us about the Mitzvah of Hashavat Aveida?
The Radbaz, Rabbi David iBn Zimra, explains that the Pasuk commanding us of the Mitzvah of Hashavat Aveida in Vayikra is referring to once an individual has picked the item up he is then required to return it to its rightful owner, seemingly, if one saw an item but didn’t actually grasp it the Mitzvah of Hashavat Aveida would not “kick in”. It is for this reason the Radbaz explains the Torah includes the Mitzvah of Hashavat Aveida once again in our Parsha, Parashat Ki Teitzei, to expand the commandment of returning ones lost item to the moment one sees the item, before they have actually picked the item up.
In Bnei Akiva and in our Bnei Akiva Camps we are not foreigners to these concepts and Mitzvot at all!
We work hard to maintain an organized and neat “Lost and Found” to ensure all lost items are returned and the concept and ideal of Rosh Gadol, being proactive and making sure to notice opportunities around us to help, is so strongly emphasized and those who embody this ideal receive tremendous recognition and praise.
The Mitzvot of Hashavat Aveida and not ignoring the opportunity to fulfill this Mitzvah and help another individual, or as we refer to it in the positive “Being a Rosh Gadol” are truly key Mitzvot that must be at the forefront in order to build a caring, sensitive and warm community!