כי תפגע שור איבך או חמרו תעה השב תשיבנו לו וגו’ … כג-ד
משל: A five year old boy had just started learning mishnayos when his father proudly brought him for a blessing to the Chevron Rosh Yeshivah, R’ Simcha Zissel Broide ZT”L. R’ Simcha Zissel smiled broadly at the boy and asked him what he was learning.
“Perek Elu Metzios,” the child replied.
“Let me ask you a question,” said the Rosh Yeshivah. “What kind of metziah (lost object) would you like to find – one with an identifying sign or one without?”
“With a sign,” came the quick reply.\
“Why?” asked the Rosh Yeshivah, surprised.
“Because it’s possible to return a metziah with a sign on it, since the owner hasn’t lost hope of finding it, and he’s sure that the lost object will be returned to him.”
R’ Simcha Zissel looked at him in sheer amazement, and said to his father, “He’s not crooked yet. He understands that hashavas aveidah (returning a lost object to its owner) is not only about the pleasure of the finder who performs the mitzvah, but also about sparing the owner sorrow that he lost the object. It is a very glatt (straight) thought.”
נמשל: Indeed, when we perform the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah, or when we teach our children to, we of course stress the importance of doing the mitzvah, but we sometimes miss a very important point: That by returning an item to its rightful owner, we spare that person the sorrow he would have had for his loss. The sensitivity that goes into this mitzvah is much deeper than simply giving back a lost item – we give the owner back his peace of mind.