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Welcome to the Lost and Found!
In Parshas Mishpatim, we learn that we must return lost objects to the owner. Here's how one of our Talmudic Sages fulfilled this mitzvah!
Once a man was walking down the road carrying a load of chickens with him. After a while, his load became heavy. So he put them down in front of a house and went off to rest. When he awoke, he forgot about his load and continued on his journey.
Meanwhile, the wife of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa heard the noise of the chickens and brought them to her husband. "Someone left these in front of our house. What should we do?"
"We must take care of them," he replied. So they did. They fed the chickens, which laid eggs that turned into more chickens! Pretty soon, Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and his wife were surrounded by hens and roosters and little chicks.
"What should we do now?" his wife asked. Rabbi Chanina said, "Don't worry. I have an idea."
Sometime later, the man who owned the chickens was walking by Rabbi Chanina's home. "This is where I left my load!" he cried.
"Do you have proof?" Rabbi Chanina asked. The man described how he carried his chickens. "I am satisfied. Come with me and I'll show them to you." He took the man to a field and said, "See this flock? It all belongs to you! I exchanged your chickens for these animals because they were easier to keep. Now my job is done, and you can take them!"
"Thank you! How can I repay you?" the man asked joyfully.
"You already did!" Rabbi Chanina replied. "You gave me the opportunity to do the mitzvah of returning lost objects to their owner!"
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