[We begin with the mishna at the bottom of 24b, with a discussion of items that _do_ have to be announced; these are all items with idenifying marks, so that the owner had not given up hope of recovery.]

The Mishna:

And these he (the finder) must announce: If he found fruit in a basket, or an empty basket, or coins in a purse, or an empty purse, or piles of fruit, or piles of coins, three coins stacked one on top of the other, small sheaves in a private domain, home -made loaves of bread, skeins of wool from a craftsman, jugs of wine, or jugs of oil ... these he must announce.

[The gemara begins by focusing on the first part of the mishna, dealing with found fruit and coins:]

The reason (that an announcement is required) is because he found the fruit in the basket and the coins in the purse. (We can deduce from this that if he found) a basket with produce in front of it, or a purse with coins in front of it, they (the fruit or the coins) would belong to the finder. [The fruit and coins have no identifiers, and we do not have to assume that they fell from the basket or purse; thus, they can be kept by the finder. The basket or purse itself _do_ have to be announced, since they do have identifiers.]

We learned in our mishna what the rabbis taught in a b'raita: If he found a basket with fruit in front of it, or a purse with coins in front of it, these belong to the finder. If some (of the fruit) was in the basket and some was on the ground, or some of he coins were in the purse and some was on the ground, he (the finder) must announce it (since it is clear that the material on the ground was from the basket or purse, and the basket / purse _is_ identifiable).

(The rabbis) asked (quoting another b'raita): If he found an item that does not have an identifying mark next to an item that _has_ an identifying mark, he must announce (the entire find, e.g., both the purse and the coins, a ruling inconsistent with the b'raita cited above). If a person came with the identifying mark, he takes that which is his (and has the mark, e.g., the purse), and the other (i.e., the finder) keeps that which does not have the mark (e.g., the coins). [Rashi qualifies this, saying tha t the finder can keep the unidentified item only if the owner of the unidentified item admits that it is not his.]

[The gemara reconciles the two conflicting b'raitot in several different ways:]

Rav Zevid said: There is no conflict. This (the first b'raita that ruled that the finder can keep the unidentifiable item was a case of) a barrel and flax (if there is no flax remaining in the overturned barrel, we can safely assume that the flax did not come from the barrel, and the finder can keep the flax). This (second b'raita, deals with) a basket and fruit (since we must assume that when the basket was overturned, _all_ the fruit rolled out, so that the fruit "belongs" to the basket, which _does_ ha ve an identifying mark).

Rav Papa said: Both (b'raitot can be understood as dealing with) a basket and fruit. The second b'raita discusses a case in which some fruit remains in the basket; the first b'raita deals with a case in which no fruit remains in the basket.

Or, if you like, you may say that both b'raitot deal with a case in which there is nothing left in the basket, but there still is no contradiction. This (second b'raita) deals with a case in which the opening of the basket faces the fruit (so one assumes that the fruit came from the basket, and it must be returned), while this (first b'raita) refers to a case in which the opening of the basket does _not_ face the fruit (so we can safely assume that the fruit did not roll out of the basket).

Or, if you like, you may say that both b'raitot deal with a case in which the opening of the basket faces the produce, but there is no contradiction. This (first b'raita) is where the basket has a rim (so one can assume that the fruit did not roll out of the basket), and this (second b'raita) is where the basket did _not_ have a rim (so we must assume that the fruit came from the basket, and must be returned to the owner of the basket).

(We are now on 25a, at the two dots about half-way down the page.)

(Our mishna required the announcing of) piles of fruit or piles of money.

We can deduce from this that the _number_ (of items) is an identifying mark. [The gemara on 23b already proved this from a b'raita. Now the gemara is seeking mishnaic support.]

(The gemara rejects this: Perhaps the mishna) refers to a single pile of fruit (which would have to be announced because the _location_ of the loss would be an identifying mark).

We can deduce from this (revised understanding of the mishna) that location is an identifying mark.

[Rav Zevid, citing Rava, had already stated (p. 23a) that this was halakhah, but it was an ex cathedra announcement. Rava's debate with Rabba on this point remained unresolved.]

(The gemara rejects this too: Perhaps the mishna) refers to piles of fruit (in which case, the number of piles is the identifying mark, but not the location).

[The issue remains unresolved. The actual language of the mishna is "piles," but it is not clear whether this implies that there must be more than one pile, or whether it refers to single piles.]

(The mishna ruled that announcement was required for) three coins in a stack.

R Yitzchak Migadala'a said "This is if the coins were arranged like towers."

This was also taught in a b'raita: If one found scattered money, it belongs to the finder. If they (the coins) were arranged in towers, they must be announced. And these are the ones arranged like towers: Three coins, one on top of another.

(The gemara now addresses an internal inconsistency in the b'raita): This is self-contradictory. You said that if one found scattered coins [i.e., not touching one another], they belong to him. (This implies that) if the coins were leaning against one ano ther, the find _would_ have to be announced. Consider, however, the end of the b'raita: If they were arranged like towers, they must be announced, implying that if they were leaning against one another they belong to the finder.

(The gemara resolves the inconsistency:) The tanna (of the b'raita) refers to anything not arranged in towers as scattered.

R. Chanina said: "We did not learn (the mishna's ruling that the find must be announced) except in the case of (coins minted by) three different kings, but (coins) of one king he does not have to announce.

(The gemara questions this analysis:) What are the circumstances? If (the coins) were arranged like towers, (the find should have to be announced) even if minted by one king. And if they were not arranged like towers, even (if minted by) three kings, they should not have to be announced.

Instead, _if_ R. Chanina's statement was made, this is how it was stated: We did not learn (the mishna's ruling) except for (coins minted by) one king that are similar to (coins minted by) three kings (Rashi: i.e., with different diameters). How so? They were arranged like towers, a wide one on the bottom, a middle-sized one on top of it, and a small one on top of the middle-sized one. For we can say that (the owner) stacked them like that (and can identify them by the arrangement). But in the case of (co ins minted by) one king, where they are all the same size, even though they are stacked one upon the other, we can say that perhaps it just happened that way, that the coins fell in a stack.

R. Yohanamn said: "Even if (the coins were identically-sized) of one king, he (the finder) must announce (the find).

What does he (the finder) announce? (Presumably) the number (of coins). [The gemara's assumption here is that the finder announces the number of coins, and the claimant specifies the arrangement.] If so, why three coins? Even two (coins would also have to be announced)!

Ravina said: (The finder) announces "Coins." [According to R. Yohanan, who does not require the tower arrangement, the finder announces "Coins," indicating that at least two coins were found. The claimant's statement that he allegedly lost two coins does not add any new information. It is only if three or more coins were lost that the number can serve as an identifying mark.]

R. Yirmia asked: "What if (the coins were arranged) like a bracelet, in a line, like a triangle, or like a ladder (or steps, each coin partially resting on the one next to it)?

We can resolve one (the last of these questions) from this: "Rav Nachman said in the name of Rabba bar Avuha: Any (arrangement of coins) such that if one inserted a sliver of wood between them, he could lift them all together, must be announced."

(We end on the last line of 25a.)

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