Shomrim

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Shomer Chinam

  1. A shomer chinam, someone watching someone's property for free, is exempt from lose and theft.[1]
  2. When a shomer chinam loses something he's exempt. Some rishonim say that he is exempt once he put in a safe place and doesn't remember where he left it. Other rishonim argue that he is obligated in such a case because of negligence. Rather he is only exempt if he left it in a safe place and now he looks in that place and doesn't see it. He is exempt even though there's no suspicion of a robbery but nonetheless if it was moved by someone else or the like it is called losing an object and is exempt.[2]

Sources

  1. Bava Metsia 94b, Shulchan Aruch CM 291:1
  2. Gemara Bava Metsia 35a explains that if a person lost an object because he doesn't know that is negligence and not exempt. Meiri b"m 35a quotes two opinions about the definition of losing an object that is exempt. Some say that one is exempt anytime one put it in a safe place but if one doesn't remember where he left it that is negligence since he didn't put it in a safe place. However, others say that it is negligence if one doesn't remember where one left it even if one certainly put it in a safe place. Shomrim Hafked p. 138 explains that according to the second opinion the only time one is exempt for losing an object is if one looks in the place where one left it and it isn't there but there was no evidence of thievery. This is implied by Igrot Moshe CM 1:32. Ritva b"m 35a follows the first opinion of the Meiri, but the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch CM 291:7 follow the second opinion. Shomrim Hafked does as well.