(We begin 3 lines from the top.)
The gemara will again try to determine the scope of R. Shimon b. Elazar's statement that an item found in an area frequented by many people need not be announced.)
Come, learn: Rav Assi (a Babylonian Amora of the second generation) said: "If one found a keg of wine in a city with a Canaanite majority, it is permitted as a found object (i.e., it does not have to be announced), but benefitting from it is forbidden (because it might have been set aside by its Canaanite owner for idolatry). If a Jew gave an identifying mark, the finder is permitted to drink it. [The fact that it was lost in an area with a Canaanite majority means that the owners must have despaired hope of recovery, so that the finder becomes the owner. And that fact remains even if a Jew later brings evidence that it was originally his. Still, the evidence is that the original owner was not an idolater, so the wine is permissible.]
The gemara will now show the relevance of Rav Assi's ruling to our question:
According to whom (did Rav Assi make his ruling)? According to R. Shimon b. Elazar (who rules that we go by the majority). We can learn from this that when R. Shimon b. Elazar made his ruling (that the finder can keep the item), it was in a case of a Canaanite majority, but not in the case of a Jewish majority.
The gemara rejects that proof: Actually, I could say that R. Shimon b. Elazar's rule (that a found item can be kept) applies even when there is a Jewish majority, but Rav Assi agrees with R. Shimon in one case (the Canaanite majority) and disagrees with him in one case (the Jewish majority). [Thus, we have at least demonstrated that R. Shimon b. Elazar's principle that the item need not be announced applies in the case of a Canaanite majority.]
But if benefit (from the wine) is forbidden (since it might have been consecrated for idolatry), what is the practical relevance of the ruling that it is permitted as a found object? Rav Ashi (this is _not_ Rav Assi, but a Babylonian Amora of the sixth generation, co-redactor of the Talmud) says "for its container" (i.e., the wine is forbidden, but the container may be used).
There was a man who found four zuzim (coins) tied up in a bundle and thrown into the Biran River. He came before Rav Yehuda (to ask what to do). He (Rav Yehuda) said to him "Go announce (your find)."
But this is the "tides of the sea" scenario (which included the case of items lost in a river, and in which the ruling is that the finder may keep the item without announcing it, on the presumption that the owner despaired hope of recovery)?
The Biran River is different, because there are barriers (that will snag items), and the owner does not give up hope of recovery.
But surely the majority (of people at the river are Canaanites)! We can learn from this (that the finding still has to be announced) that the halakha is not according to R. Shimon b. Elazar, even in an area with a Canaanite majority.
(The gemara rejects this proof:)
The Biran River is different because the Jews build the barriers and the Jews dredge it. Since the Jews build the barriers, we may assume that it fell from a Jew, and since the Jews dredge it, (the owner) does not give up hope of recovering it.
Rav Yehuda was walking behind his teacher Shmuel on the "Street of Cereal-sellers (a heavily populated area). He (Rav Yehuda) said to him (Shmuel) "What would be the law if one found a purse (here)?" He (Shmuel) said to him "These belong to the finder."
(Rav Yehuda continued): "What if a Jew came and gave an identifying mark?" (Shmuel responded): "He must return it." (Rav Yehuda asked): "Both?" (i.e., is it possible that both of these rulings could be true?) He (Shmuel) said to him: "(The second ruling, that the item must be returned if the original owner can identify it) is beyond the letter of the law (i.e., not required, but ethically admirable).
This is like the case of Shmuel's father who found some donkeys in the desert and returned them to their owners after a full twelve months -- beyond the letter of the law.
Rava was walking behind Rav Nachman in the tanner's market, and some say in the rabbis' market.
(Rava) said to him (Rav Nachman) "What is the law if one found a purse here?" (Rav Nachman) said to him: "They belong to him (the finder)." (Rava): "What if a Jew came and gave an identifying mark?" (Rav Nachman) said to him: "They belong to him (the finder)." (Rava): "But isn't (the original owner) standing and shouting (that it is his)?" (Rav Nachman): "He is like someone shouting that his house has collapsed or that his ship sank in the sea" (i.e., despite his protests, there is a judicial assumption that he had given up hope of recovery).
[Since the rabbis' market would presumably have a Jewish majority, this ruling appears to support R. Shimon b. Elazar's opinion that objects found in a crowded place can be kept, even if there is a Jewish majority.]
There was a vulture that took meat in the market and threw it in the palm trees of Bar Marion. (Bar Marion) can before Abbaye (to ask whether he had to announce it). He (Abbaye) said to him "Go take it for yourself."
But the majority (in the area from which the meat was taken) were Jews. This implies that the halakha is like R. Shimon b. Elazar (that the finder can keep the item) even in an area with a Jewish majority.
The gemara rejects that proof:
(The case of the) vulture is different (from the usual case of an item lost in a public place) because it resembles (an item washed away by) the tides of the sea.
And yet another question on Abbaye's ruling:
Didn't Rav say that meat that has disappeared from sight is forbidden (because one cannot be sure that the kosher meat had not been replaced by non-kosher meat)?
[It might be noted that Rav's ruling is not accepted as halakhah (Hulin 95a); if it were, the finder of pieces of meat would not have been allowed to keep them and eat them, even if they were found in a place where there is a Jewish majority. The question arises why Abbaye was challenged with Rav's ruling, which both he and the questioner knew was not halakhah. A similar story about meat being carried away and dropped by a vulture is told in the Yerushalmi (Avodah Zarah 2:9), where it refers to Rav, rather than Abbaye. If Rav, not Abbaye, whas the rabbi who ruled that Bar Marion could keep the meat, his would appear to contradict his own opinion, and the challenge makes more sense.]
The gemara explains:
He (Bar Marion) was standing and saw (the entire scenario, and was thus certain that the meat dropped by the vulture was the same piece that it had picked up from the kosher meat market, [so Rav's ruling was not violated]).
R. Hanina found a slaughtered kid between Tiberias and Zippori, and they (the Rabbis) permitted it to him (i.e., ruled that it was kosher). R. Ami said: "They permitted it to him as a found object in line with he ruling by R. Shimon b. Elazar, (and they permitted it regarding) shchita (slaughtering, i.e., kashrut) in line with the ruling of R. Hanania b. R. Yosei the Gallilean. As we learned in a b'raita, if he lost his kids or chickens and found them slaughtered, R. Yehuda prohibits them (i.e., they may not have been slaughtered properly) and R. Hanania b. R. Yosei the Gallilean permits them (to be eaten, on the presumption that the shchita was proper). Rebbi said "R. Yehuda's statement (forbidding the meat) seems correct when it was found in a garbage heap (presumably the meat was thrown there because it was not kosher), and statement of R. Hanania b. R. Yosei the Gallilean seems correct when it was found in a house.
Since they permitted (the meat) regarding slaughtering (it must be the case that we are dealing with a situation of) a Jewish majority. This therefore implies that the halakha is according to R. Shimon b. Elazar (the finder can keep the item) even if there is a Jewish majority!
The gemara rejects the proof:
Rava said "(This took place in an area with) a Canaanite majority, but most slaughterers were Jewish." (Thus, even though meat found in the area can be considered to be kosher, we still cannot conclude that R. Shimon's rule applies where there is a Jewish majority; it may apply only where there is a Canaanite majority.)
R. Ami found slaughtered pigeons between Tiberias and Zippori. He came to R. Assi, and others say to R. Yohanan, and others say to the study hall (to ask what to do). They said to him "Go take it for yourself."
R. Yitzchak Napcha found spools of cord that trappers used for making nets. He came to R. Yohanan, and others say he came to the study hall (to ask what to do). They said to him "Go take it for yourself."
We are now at the Mishna at the bottom of 24b.
And congratulations to all of you who have been following the discussion. We have completed the gemara's discussion of the first mishna ... a significant accomplishment!
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