The Donkey and the Rabbi: A Story of $98K

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

A story found in the Talmud (Talmud Yerushalmi, Baba Metziah, Chapter 2, Halacha 1) recounts how just after a rebbe bought a new donkey, one of his yeshiva students found a precious jewel in a small sack hanging on a rope tied around the donkey’s neck.

The law was that anything that comes with a purchase belongs to the new owners. What would the rebbe do? Accept it as providential good fortune, or return the jewel?

The rebbe taught his student to return the stone, for sometimes one must go further than obeying the law in order to maintain peace.

Life has recreated the dilemma of our midrash this week, with the rabbi who bought a desk and found a bag filled with $98,000 hidden behind a drawer within it.

What would you have done?

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