“But if your brother does not live near you” (Dt.22:2)—
I might infer only that the rule applies
if he does not live nearby.
How do I know that
it surely applies if he lives far away?
The Teaching states:
“And you don’t know him well” (Dt.22:2)—
[as a result of the distance between you].
“Then you shall gather it into your household” (Dt.22:2)—
but not into another household,
[expecting its residents to care for it].
“Where it shall remain with you until your brother inquires after it” (Dt.22:2).
Now can you possibly imagine that
you would return it to him
before he specified its markings?
If so, why is it stated:
“Until your brother inquires after it” (Dt.22:2)—
[that is, even without specifying its markings.
[You needn’t return the animal]
until you inquire [and confirm] that
your brother is not a cheat. 2
“And then return it to him” (Dt.22:2)—
[Furthermore,] if [your brother] himself is lost,
you should guide him home.3