Teaching Children about Returning Lost Property (Hashavat Aveidah)

A Shaboom! Discussion Guide for 4-7 year olds and their parents

While looking for a lost baseball, Ben finds a Legend of Latka action figure and claims it as his own. He and Papa Plony don’t understand why Mama Plony says they must find the owner until Lila loses her favorite stuffed dinosaur. Meanwhile, Gabi’s been collecting all the lost baseballs in the cloud playhouse. Rafi sends a giant hunting dog to help find the dinosaur and teach Ben and Gabi an important lesson.

Follow Up Questions

  1. Have you ever misplaced or lost something you like very much? What was it? How did you feel?
  2. Can you say ‘hashavat aveidah?’ Try it. Can you explain what it means? How is that different than ‘finders keepers?’
  3. Why do you think Gabi sent all the baseballs down the rainbow slide at the end of the episode?

Related Activities

  1. Together with a grown up, put your name on special things that leave the house often so they can be returned easily if they’re lost. Put luggage tags on suitcases and sew name ribbons in to clothing. Return address stickers can be put on lunch boxes, books, toys and even on doll tags.
  2. Next time you see a ‘lost cat/dog’ poster on a tree, street lamp or bulletin board, examine it carefully in order to be able to recognize the lost animal if you see it.
  3. If you find something that is not yours,  take it to the nearest ‘lost and found,’ depending on where you found it. Look in community bulletin boards in buildings and online for information on somebody missing that special something. Sometimes just moving the item to a prominent place on the path will help the owner find it when he or she returns for it.

For Parents: What’s Jewish about Returning Lost Property?

Hashavat aveidah is a serious subject with which many of us wrestle.  When you find a wallet, it’s relatively easy to use the contents to locate the owner and return it. But what if you find cash by itself? A $50 bill! Do you place an ad saying you found some cash in such and such an area?  If it’s $1000, do you report it to the police? Is there an amount under which you decide that it’s not worth the effort looking for the owner? As you ponder the imperative to return what is not yours, you may appreciate this economically reduced  three line haiku.