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The Return of Lost Property According to Jewish & Common Law: A Comparison
Rabbi Michael J. Broyde & Rabbi Michael Hecht

XI. Above and Beyond the Obligation of the Law

Jewish law adds one additional "rule". In any case where the finder has the legal right to assume title to the lost property, Jewish law125 provides that one who wishes to follow the good and righteous path should act beyond the requirements of the law,126 and return all identifiable lost property even though the circumstances would dictate an irrebuttable presumption of abandonment. Indeed, several authorities127 are of the opinion that the option of acting above the requirements of the law is not left to the individual as a matter of personal choice, but is imposed, by force if necessary, as a matter of duty by a Jewish court. This opinion is based on the well known Talmudic statement: "Jerusalem was destroyed only . . . because they based their judgments strictly on the law of the Torah and did not act beyond the letter of the law".128

Obviously, the common law, as well as New York law, each system of purely secular law and not a religious legal system, imposes no such extra-legal duties.

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