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Shemita - Chapter 9

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Shemita - Chapter 9

1

It is a positive commandment1 to nullify a loan in the Sabbatical year, as [Deuteronomy 15:2] states: "All of those who bear debt must release their hold." A person who demands payment of a debt after the Sabbatical year passed2 violates a negative commandment,3 as it is stated [ibid.]: "One shall not demand [payment] from his friend and his brother."

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְהַשְׁמִיט הַמַּלְוֶה בַּשְּׁבִיעִית שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ב) "שָׁמוֹט כָּל בַּעַל מַשֵּׁה יָדוֹ". וְהַתּוֹבֵעַ חוֹב שֶׁעָבְרָה עָלָיו שְׁבִיעִית עָבַר עַל לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ב) "לֹא יִגּשֹׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְאֶת אָחִיו":

2

The nullification of debts applies according to Scriptural Law only in the era when the Jubilee year is observed4 and [the sale of] land is also nullified, for the land [that has been sold] returns to its original owners without financial payment.5 This matter was conveyed through the chain of tradition. Our Sages declared:6 In the era when you nullify [the sale of] land, you nullify debts everywhere, whether in Eretz Yisrael or in the Diaspora. In the era when you do not nullify [the sale of] land, you do not nullify debts anywhere, even in Eretz Yisrael.

ב

אֵין שְׁמִטַּת כְּסָפִים נוֹהֶגֶת מִן הַתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַיּוֹבֵל נוֹהֵג שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם שְׁמִטַּת קַרְקַע. שֶׁהֲרֵי יָשׁוּב הַקַּרְקַע לִבְעָלָיו בְּלֹא כֶּסֶף. וְדָבָר זֶה קַבָּלָה הוּא. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁאַתָּה מְשַׁמֵּט קַרְקַע אַתָּה מְשַׁמֵּט כְּסָפִים בְּכָל מָקוֹם בֵּין בָּאָרֶץ בֵּין בְּחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. וּבִזְמַן שֶׁאֵין שָׁם שְׁמִטַּת קַרְקַע אֵין אַתָּה מְשַׁמֵּט כְּסָפִים בִּשְׁבִיעִית אֲפִלּוּ בָּאָרֶץ:

3

According to Rabbinic Law, the nullification of debts applies in the present age in all places,7 even though the Jubilee year is not observed.8 [This is a decree, instituted] so that the concept of the nullification of debts will not be forgotten by the Jewish people.

ג

וּמִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים שֶׁתְּהֵא שְׁמִטַּת כְּסָפִים נוֹהֶגֶת בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה בְּכָל מָקוֹם וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין הַיּוֹבֵל נוֹהֵג כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁתַּכֵּחַ תּוֹרַת שְׁמִטַּת הַכְּסָפִים מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל:

4

The Sabbatical year does not nullify debts until its conclusion. [This is derived as follows: Deuteronomy 15:1-2] states: "At the end of seven years, you shall effect a remission. This is the matter of the remission." And [Deuteronomy 31:10] states:9 "At the end of seven years, at the time of the Sabbatical year, during the holiday of Sukkot." Just as in that instance, [the event takes place] after the seven [years], so too, the nullification of the debts takes place after the seven [years].

Therefore if one lent money to a colleague in the Sabbatical year itself, he may demand payment of his debt for the entire year.10 When the sun sets on the night of Rosh HaShanah of the eighth year,11 the debt is nullified.12

ד

אֵין שְׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת כְּסָפִים אֶלָּא בְּסוֹפָהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו א) "מִקֵּץ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים תַּעֲשֶׂה" שְׁמִטָּה וְזֶה דְּבַר הַשְּׁמִטָּה וְשָׁם הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים לא י) "מִקֵּץ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּמֹעֵד שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בְּחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת". מָה שָׁם אַחַר שֶׁבַע אַף הַשְׁמָטַת כְּסָפִים אַחַר שֶׁבַע. לְפִיכָךְ הִלְוָה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית עַצְמָהּ גּוֹבֶה חוֹבוֹ כָּל הַשָּׁנָה. וּכְשֶׁתִּשְׁקַע חַמָּה בְּלֵילֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה שֶׁל מוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית אָבַד הַחוֹב:

5

If one slaughtered a cow and divided it13 under the supposition that today would be [declared as] Rosh HaShanah,14 but instead, a day was added to Elul and thus that day was the final day of the Sabbatical year, the money is lost, for the Sabbatical year ended while the debt was extant.15

ה

שָׁחַט אֶת הַפָּרָה וְחִלְּקָהּ עַל דַּעַת שֶׁהַיּוֹם רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה שֶׁל מוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית וְנִתְעַבֵּר אֱלוּל וְנִמְצָא אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם סוֹף שְׁבִיעִית אָבְדוּ הַדָּמִים. שֶׁהֲרֵי עָבְרָה שְׁבִיעִית עַל הַחוֹב:

6

The Sabbatical year nullifies a loan, even a loan supported by a promissory note which creates a lien on one's possessions.16 If, however, the borrower designated a field [to serve as payment] for the loan, it is not nullified.17 The Sabbatical year also nullifies the obligation to take an oath,18 for [the prooftext] states: "He shall not demand," i.e., neither payment, nor an oath.

ו

שְׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת אֶת הַמִּלְוֶה וַאֲפִלּוּ מִלְוֶה שֶׁבִּשְׁטָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ אַחֲרָיוּת נְכָסִים הֲרֵי זֶה מְשַׁמֵּט. וְאִם סִיֵּם לוֹ שָׂדֶה בְּהַלְוָאָתוֹ אֵינוֹ מַשְׁמִיט. וְהַשְּׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת אֶת הַשְּׁבוּעָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ב) "לֹא יִגּשֹׁ" מִכָּל מָקוֹם לֹא לְשַׁלֵּם וְלֹא לְהִשָּׁבַע:

7

When does the above apply? With regard to an oath imposed by the judges19and the like, i.e., obligations that were he to accept them, the Sabbatical year would nullify them. But oaths taken by watchmen or partners20 and the like, i.e., oaths that were he to admit [the obligation], he would be required to pay [after the Sabbatical year],21 he is required to take the oath after the Sabbatical year.

ז

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַדַּיָּנִין וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁאִם יוֹדֶה בָּהֶן שְׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמַּטְתָן. אֲבָל שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין וְהַשֻּׁתָּפִין וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִשָּׁבוּעוֹת שֶׁאִם יוֹדֶה יְשַׁלֵּם הֲרֵי זֶה יִשָּׁבַע אַחַר הַשְּׁמִטָּה:

8

If a person gave a colleague a loan and then demanded payment, [the colleague] denied the obligation and remained in denial when [the conclusion of] the Sabbatical year arrived and then he admitted his obligation or witnesses came [and testified to that effect] after the Sabbatical year [was concluded], the obligation is not nullified.22

ח

הִלְוָהוּ וּתְבָעוֹ וְכָפַר בּוֹ. וְהִגִּיעַ הַשְּׁמִטָּה וְהוּא בִּכְפִירָתוֹ. וְהוֹדָה אַחַר שֶׁעָבְרָה שְׁבִיעִית. אוֹ שֶׁבָּאוּ עָלָיו עֵדִים אַחַר הַשְּׁבִיעִית אֵין הַשְּׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת:

9

When a person lends money to a colleague and sets [the time of payment] in ten years time, it is not nullified [by the Sabbatical year. The rationale is that] although [ultimately, the command,] "Do not demand [payment]" will apply,23 at present, he may not demand payment.24 If he stipulated that he would not demand payment, [the debt] is nullified by the Sabbatical year.25

ט

הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְקָבַע לוֹ זְמַן לְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בָּא לִידֵי (דברים טו ב) "לֹא יִגּשֹׁ" הֲרֵי הוּא עַתָּה אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִנְגּשֹׁ. הִתְנָה עִמּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִתְבָּעֶנּוּ שְׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת:

10

When a person lends money to a colleague and he stipulates with [the borrower] that [the debt] will not be nullified by the Sabbatical year, it is nullified, for he cannot negate the law of the Sabbatical year.26 If [the borrower] stipulates that he will not nullify this debt, even in the Sabbatical year, the stipulation is binding, for any stipulation made regarding financial matters is binding. Thus this person took on a financial obligation which the Torah did not obligate him in.27

י

הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִתְנָה עִמּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא תְּשַׁמְּטֶנּוּ שְׁבִיעִית הֲרֵי זֶה נִשְׁמָט שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְבַטֵּל דִּין הַשְּׁבִיעִית. הִתְנָה עִמּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁמֵּט הוּא חוֹב זֶה וַאֲפִלּוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית תְּנָאוֹ קַיָּם. שֶׁכָּל תְּנַאי שֶׁבְּמָמוֹן קַיָּם. וְנִמְצָא זֶה חִיֵּב עַצְמוֹ בְּמָמוֹן שֶׁלֹּא חִיְּבַתּוּ תּוֹרָה שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב:

11

An account at a store is not nullified by the Sabbatical year.28 If it is established as a debt,29 it is nullified.30 The wage of a worker is not nullified.31 If it is considered as a debt, it is nullified.

יא

הַקָּפַת הַחֲנוּת אֵינָהּ נִשְׁמֶטֶת. וְאִם עֲשָׂאָהּ מִלְוֶה נִשְׁמֶטֶת. שְׂכַר שָׂכִיר אֵינוֹ נִשְׁמָט. וְאִם זְקָפוֹ עָלָיו בְּמִלְוֶה נִשְׁמָט:

12

The fines for a rapist,32 a seducer33 and one who spreads a slanderous report [about his wife]34 are not nullified by the Sabbatical year.35 If they are considered as debts,36 they are nullified. When are they considered as a debt? When the matter was brought to court.

יב

קְנָסוֹת שֶׁל אוֹנֵס וְשֶׁל מְפַתֶּה וְהַמּוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע אֵינָם נִשְׁמָטִין. וְאִם זְקָפָן בְּמִלְוֶה נִשְׁמָטִים. וּמֵאֵימָתַי נִזְקָפִין בְּמִלְוֶה מִשְּׁעַת הַעֲמָדָה בַּדִּין:

13

When a person divorces his wife before the Sabbatical year, [his obligations to her by virtue of] her ketubah37 are not nullified by the Sabbatical year.38 If she impaired the legal power [of her ketubah]39 or considered it as a debt, it can be nullified.

יג

הַמְגָרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ קֹדֶם הַשְּׁמִטָּה אֵין כְּתֻבָּתָהּ נִשְׁמֶטֶת. וְאִם פְּגַמְתָּהּ אוֹ זְקַפְתָּהּ עָלָיו בְּמִלְוֶה נִשְׁמֶטֶת:

14

When a person lends money in exchange for security, the debt is not nullified by the Sabbatical year,40 provided the security is equal in value to the debt. If the debt exceeds the value of the security, the extra amount is nullified by the Sabbatical year.41

יד

הַמַּלְוֶה עַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן אֵינוֹ מַשְׁמִיט. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַחוֹב כְּנֶגֶד הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן. וְאִם הָיָה יֶתֶר מַשְׁמִיט הַיֶּתֶר:

15

When a person hands over42 his promissory notes to the court, telling [the judges]: "Collect my debt for me," the debts are not nullified by the Sabbatical year. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 15:3]: "[a debt] that you have from your brother."[Implied is that debts demanded by "your brother," a private individual, are nullified by the Sabbatical year. [Payment for] these [debts, by contrast,] is being demanded by the court.

Similarly, if the court rendered a judgment, writing: "So-and-so, you are obligated to give this person this-and-this amount," [the debt] is not nullified. Such [a debt] is considered as if it has already been collected and entered [the creditor's] possession. It does not resemble a loan.

טו

הַמּוֹסֵר שִׁטְרוֹתָיו לְבֵית דִּין וְאָמַר לָהֶם אַתֶּם גְּבוּ לִי חוֹבִי זֶה אֵינוֹ נִשְׁמָט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ג) "וַאֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֶת אָחִיךָ" וְזֶה בֵּית דִּין תּוֹבְעִין אוֹתוֹ. וְכֵן בֵּית דִּין שֶׁחָתְכוּ אֶת הַדִּין וְכָתְבוּ אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה חַיָּב לִתֵּן לָזֶה כָּךְ וְכָךְ אֵינוֹ נִשְׁמָט. שֶׁזֶּה כְּגָבוּי הוּא וּכְאִלּוּ בָּא לְיָדוֹ וְאֵינוֹ כְּמִלְוֶה:

16

When Hillel the Elder saw that the people would refrain from lending to each other and thus violated the Scriptural charge [Deuteronomy 15:9]: "Lest there be a wicked thought in your heart,"43 he ordained a pruzbol44 so that debts would not be nullified and people would lend to each other.

A pruzbol is effective only with regard to the nullification of debts in the present era which are a Rabbinic institution.45 A pruzbol is not effective with regard to the nullification of debts by Scriptural Law.46

טז

כְּשֶׁרָאָה הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן שֶׁנִּמְנְעוּ מִלְּהַלְווֹת זֶה אֶת זֶה וְעוֹבְרִין עַל הַכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים טו ט) "הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן יִהְיֶה דָבָר" וְגוֹ' הִתְקִין פְּרוֹזְבּוּל כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִשָּׁמֵט הַחוֹב עַד שֶׁיַּלְווּ זֶה אֶת זֶה. וְאֵין הַפְּרוֹזְבּוּל מוֹעִיל אֶלָּא בִּשְׁמִטַּת כְּסָפִים בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁהִיא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. אֲבָל שְׁמִטָּה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה אֵין הַפְּרוֹזְבּוֹל מוֹעִיל בָּהּ:

17

A pruzbol should be composed only by very great Sages like the court of Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Assi,47 for they are suitable to release financial [obligations due] others.48 Other courts [of lesser authority] may not compose [a pruzbol].49

יז

אֵין כּוֹתְבִין פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אֶלָּא חֲכָמִים גְּדוֹלִים בְּיוֹתֵר כְּבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל רַבִּי אַמִּי וְרַבִּי אַסִּי שֶׁהֵן רְאוּיִין לְהַפְקִיעַ מָמוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם. אֲבָל שְׁאָר בָּתֵּי דִּינִין אֵין כּוֹתְבִין:

18

This represents the body of a pruzbol: "I am notifying you,50so-and-so and so-and so51 the judges in this-and-this places, [that I reserve the right] to collect all the debts [owed] to me52 at any time I desire."53 The judges or the witnesses should sign below.54

יח

זֶהוּ גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל פְּרוֹזְבּוּל. מוֹסְרַנִי לָכֶם פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי הַדַּיָּנִין שֶׁבְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁכָּל חוֹב שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִי שֶׁאֶגְבֶּנּוּ כָּל זְמַן שֶׁאֶרְצֶה. וְהַדַּיָּנִין אוֹ הָעֵדִים חוֹתְמִין מִלְּמַטָּה:

19

A pruzbol may be composed only when [the borrower possesses] land.55 If the borrower does not possess land, the lender should grant56 the borrower even the slightest amount of land - even enough to grow a cabbage stalk57- in his field. [Even if] he lent him place for an oven or a range, a pruzbol may be composed.58 If [the borrower] owns a field that was given as security, a pruzbol may be composed on that basis.

יט

אֵין כּוֹתְבִין פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אֶלָּא עַל הַקַּרְקַע. אִם אֵין קַרְקַע לַלּוֹוֶה מוֹכֵר לוֹ הַמַּלְוֶה כָּל שֶׁהוּא בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ אֲפִלּוּ קֶלַח שֶׁל כְּרוּב. הִשְׁאִילוֹ מָקוֹם לְתַנּוּר אוֹ לְכִירָה כּוֹתְבִין עָלָיו פְּרוֹזְבּוּל. הָיְתָה לוֹ שָׂדֶה מְמֻשְׁכֶּנֶת כּוֹתְבִין עָלֶיהָ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל:

20

[A pruzbol] may be composed against a man59 based on property owned by his wife60 or against orphans on property owned by their guardian.61 If [the borrower] does not possess land, but the guarantor does, we can compose a pruzbol because of it.62 If [a borrower] is owed a debt by a colleague and the colleague owns land - since that land is on lien [to the first borrower] - we may compose a pruzbol because of it.

כ

כּוֹתְבִין לְאִישׁ עַל נִכְסֵי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְלִיתוֹמִים עַל נִכְסֵי אַפַּטְרוֹפּוּס. אֵין לוֹ קַרְקַע וְלָעָרֵב יֵשׁ לוֹ קַרְקַע כּוֹתְבִין עָלֶיהָ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל. הָיָה לוֹ חוֹב עַל חֲבֵרוֹ וְיֵשׁ לַחֲבֵרוֹ קַרְקַע הוֹאִיל וְהוּא תַּחַת שִׁעְבּוּדוֹ כּוֹתֵב עָלָיו פְּרוֹזְבּוּל:

21

When one person borrows from five others, each one must have a pruzbol composed.63 When five people borrow from one, one pruzbol is sufficient for him for all the debts.64

כא

אֶחָד שֶׁלָּוָה מֵחֲמִשָּׁה צְרִיכִים פְּרוֹזְבּוּל לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד. וַחֲמִשָּׁה שֶׁלָּווּ מֵאֶחָד דַּיּוֹ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אֶחָד לְכֻלָּן:

22

When a person has a pruzbol composed and then he makes a loan, it is not effective. Instead, the loan will be nullified unless he composes [another] pruzbol after giving the loan. Thus one can conclude that any loan which precedes a pruzbol is not nullified because of this pruzbol. If the pruzbol precedes the loan, it is nullified [despite] this pruzbol.65

כב

כָּתַב הַפְּרוֹזְבּוּל תְּחִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ הִלְוָה אֵינוֹ מוֹעִיל. אֶלָּא מַשְׁמִיט עַד שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב הַפְּרוֹזְבּוּל אַחַר שֶׁהִלְוָה. נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר שֶׁכָּל מִלְוֶה הַקּוֹדֶמֶת לִפְרוֹזְבּוּל אֵינָהּ נִשְׁמֶטֶת בִּפְרוֹזְבּוּל זֶה. וְאִם הַפְּרוֹזְבּוּל קוֹדֵם לַמִּלְוֶה נִשְׁמֶטֶת בִּפְרוֹזְבּוּל זֶה:

23

Accordingly, a pruzbol that is predated is valid, while one that is postdated, is invalid.

What is implied? One wrote a pruzbol in Nissan and predated it to Adar, it is valid, for he has impaired its legal power, for [only the loans given] until Adar are not nullified.66 If, however, he postdated it and dated it in Iyar, it is invalid, for he has strengthened its legal power, for [were it to be effective] the loans given until Iyar would not be nullified. This is unlawful, because it is only [the loans given] until Nissan that are not nullified, for that [is when] the matters were conveyed to the court.

כג

לְפִיכָךְ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל הַמֻּקְדָּם כָּשֵׁר. וְהַמְאֻחָר פָּסוּל. כֵּיצַד. כְּתָבוֹ בְּנִיסָן וְהִקְדִּים זְמַנּוֹ מֵאֲדָר כָּשֵׁר. שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּרַע כֹּחוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַשְׁמִיט אֶלָּא עַד אֲדָר. אֲבָל אִם אִחֵר זְמַנּוֹ וּכְתָבוֹ מֵאִיָּר פָּסוּל שֶׁהֲרֵי מְיַפֶּה כֹּחוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַשְׁמִיט עַד אִיָּר שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין. שֶׁאֵין דִּינוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַשְׁמִיט אֶלָּא עַד נִיסָן בִּשְׁעַת מְסִירַת הַדְּבָרִים לְבֵית דִּין:

24

When a person produces a promissory note after the Sabbatical year without it being accompanied by a pruzbol, the debt is lost.67 If he says: "I possessed [a pruzbol] and it was lost, his word is accepted.68 For from the time of the danger69 onward,70 a creditor was allowed to collect his debt [after the Sabbatical year] without a pruzbol.

Moreover, when a creditor would bring the promissory note [to court] or would come and demand payment of a loan supported by a verbal commitment [alone], [the court] tells the defendant: "Pay him." If the defendant claims: "Where is his pruzbol?", the court asks the plaintiff: "Did you have a pruzbol that was lost?" If he answers affirmatively, his word is accepted.71 If he admits that he did not have a pruzbol, the debt is nullified.

Orphans72 do not require a pruzbol.73

כד

הַמּוֹצִיא שְׁטַר חוֹב אַחַר שְׁבִיעִית וְאֵין עִמּוֹ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אָבַד חוֹבוֹ. וְאִם אָמַר הָיָה לִי וְאָבַד נֶאֱמָן. שֶׁמִּזְּמַן הַסַּכָּנָה וְאֵילָךְ בַּעַל חוֹב גּוֹבֶה שֶׁלֹּא בִּפְרוֹזְבּוּל. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁיָּבִיא בַּעַל חוֹב אֶת שְׁטָרוֹ אוֹ כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא לִתְבֹּעַ בְּמִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה אוֹמְרִים לַנִּתְבָּע שַׁלֵּם לוֹ. וְאִם טָעַן הַנִּתְבָּע וְאָמַר אַיֵּה פְּרוֹזְבּוּל שֶׁלּוֹ. אוֹמְרִים לַתּוֹבֵעַ הָיָה לְךָ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל וְאָבַד אִם אָמַר הֵן נֶאֱמָן. וְאִם הוֹדָה שֶׁלֹּא כָּתַב פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אָבַד חוֹבוֹ. וְהַיְתוֹמִים אֵינָן צְרִיכִין פְּרוֹזְבּוּל:

25

[When the plaintiff] produces a pruzbol, the defendant claims: "The loan for which he is demanding payment was made after the pruzbol,"74 and the plaintiff retorts: "It was made before the pruzbol," the plaintiff's word is accepted. [The rationale is] were he to have claimed: "I had [a pruzbol] and it was lost," his word would have been accepted75 even though we do not know the date of the pruzbol that was lost.

כה

הוֹצִיא פְּרוֹזְבּוּל וְטָעַן הַנִּתְבָּע וְאָמַר מִלְוֶה זוֹ שֶׁהוּא תּוֹבֵעַ אַחַר פְּרוֹזְבּוּל זֶה הָיְתָה וְהַתּוֹבֵעַ אוֹמֵר קֹדֶם פְּרוֹזְבּוּל הָיְתָה הַתּוֹבֵעַ נֶאֱמָן. שֶׁאִלּוּ אָמַר הָיָה לִי וְאָבַד נֶאֱמָן וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִין זְמַן הַפְּרוֹזְבּוּל שֶׁאָבַד:

26

If the defendant claims: "I owe him a debt," and the plaintiff states: "No, it is an account from a store which is not nullified [by the Sabbatical year], because I have not yet considered it as a loan,"76 his word is accepted, for were he to desire,77he could say: "It was a loan, but I had a pruzbol and it was lost." [Leniency is granted in these instances,] because once the Sages instituted [the concept of] pruzbol, we operate under the assumption that a person will not forgo something permitted78 and partake of something that is forbidden.79

כו

טָעַן הַנִּתְבָּע וְאָמַר מִלְוֶה יֵשׁ לוֹ אֶצְלִי. וְהַתּוֹבֵעַ אוֹמֵר לֹא כִּי אֶלָּא הַקָּפַת חֲנוּת הִיא שֶׁאֵינָהּ נִשְׁמֶטֶת שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא זָקַפְתִּי מִלְוֶה הֲרֵי זֶה נֶאֱמָן. שֶׁהֲרֵי אִם יִרְצֶה יֹאמַר מִלְוֶה הָיְתָה וּפְרוֹזְבּוּל הָיָה לִי וְאָבַד. שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁתִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים פְּרוֹזְבּוּל חֲזָקָה הִיא שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מַנִּיחַ דָּבָר מֻתָּר וְאוֹכֵל דָּבָר אָסוּר:

27

When Torah Sages offer loans to each other80 and one conveys his words to his students,81 saying: "I am notifying you [that I reserve the right] to collect all the debts [owed] to me at any time I desire," he does not have to compose a pruzbol.82 [The rationale is that Torah scholars] know that the nullification of debts in the present era is a Rabbinic decree and it can be negated verbally.

כז

תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים שֶׁהִלְווּ זֶה אֶת זֶה וּמָסַר דְּבָרָיו לְתַלְמִידִים וְאָמַר מוֹסְרַנִי לָכֶם שֶׁכָּל חוֹב שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִי שֶׁאֶגְבֶּנּוּ כָּל זְמַן שֶׁאֶרְצֶה אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב פְּרוֹזְבּוּל. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן יוֹדְעִים שֶׁהַשְׁמָטַת כְּסָפִים בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם וּבִדְבָרִים בִּלְבַד הִיא נִדְחֵית:

28

[Whenever] anyone returns a debt [despite the fact] that the Sabbatical year has passed,83 the spirits of our Sages are gratified because of him.84 [When receiving the payment,] the lender must say to the one who is making restitution: "I am nullifying [the debt] and your [obligation] to me has been released."85 If the debtor says: "Nevertheless, I desire that you accept it," he should accept it. For the Torah states: "One shall not demand [payment]," and payment was not demanded.86

[The debtor] should not tell [the creditor]: "I am giving them to you as [payment of ] my debt. Instead, he should tell him: "[The money] is mine,87 and I am giving it to you as a present."

כח

כָּל הַמַּחֲזִיר חוֹב שֶׁעָבְרָה עָלָיו שְׁבִיעִית רוּחַ חֲכָמִים נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ. וְצָרִיךְ הַמַּלְוֶה לוֹמַר לַמַּחֲזִיר מַשְׁמִיט אֲנִי וּכְבָר נִפְטַרְתָּ מִמֶּנִּי. אָמַר לוֹ אַף עַל פִּי כֵן רְצוֹנִי שֶׁתְּקַבֵּל יְקַבֵּל מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ב) "לֹא יִגּשֹׁ" וַהֲרֵי לֹא נָגַשׂ. וְאַל יֹאמַר לוֹ בְּחוֹבִי אֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ אֶלָּא יֹאמַר לוֹ שֶׁלִּי הֵם וּבְמַתָּנָה אֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ:

29

If [a debtor] returned a debt, but did not make the above statements, [the lender] should turn the conversation to the point where the debtor says: "[The money] is mine, and I am giving it to you as a present." If [the debtor] does not make such statements, [the creditor] should not accept it from him.88 Instead, [the debtor] should take his money and depart.

כט

הֶחֱזִיר לוֹ חוֹבוֹ וְלֹא אָמַר לוֹ כֵּן. מְסַבֵּב עִמּוֹ בִּדְבָרִים עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לוֹ שֶׁלִּי הֵם וּבְמַתָּנָה נְתַתִּים לְךָ. וְאִם לֹא אָמַר לֹא יְקַבֵּל מִמֶּנּוּ אֶלָּא יִטּל מְעוֹתָיו וְיֵלֵךְ לוֹ:

30

One who refrains from lending money to a colleague before the Sabbatical year lest [the repayment] of the debt be delayed and it be nullified, violates a negative commandment, 89 as [Deuteronomy 15:9] states: "Be careful [lest there be a wicked thought in your heart....]" It is a severe sin, for the Torah warned against it with two adjurations, for it is written: "Be careful lest," and whenever the Torah uses the expressions "Be careful," "lest," or "Do not," it is communicating a negative commandment.90 The Torah objected to this evil thought and called it "wicked" and the the verse continued warning and commanding one not to refraining [from lending], but to give [the loan], as [ibid.:10] states: "You shall certainly give him and your Heart should not regret giving him." [Indeed,] the Holy One, blessed be He, promised that the reward for this mitzvah will be granted in this world,91 as [the verse continues:] "Because of this God will bless you."

ל

מִי שֶׁנִּמְנָע מִלְּהַלְווֹת אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ קֹדֶם הַשְּׁמִטָּה שֶׁמָּא יִתְאַחֵר הַחוֹב שֶׁלּוֹ וְיִשָּׁמֵט עָבַר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ וְגוֹ'. וְחֵטְא גָּדוֹל הוּא שֶׁהֲרֵי הִזְהִירָה עָלָיו תּוֹרָה בִּשְׁנֵי לָאוִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ט) "הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן" וְגוֹ'. וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הִשָּׁמֶר אוֹ פֶּן אוֹ אַל הֲרֵי זֶה מִצְוַת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה. וְהַתּוֹרָה הִקְפִּידָה עַל מַחֲשָׁבָה רָעָה זוֹ וּקְרָאַתּוּ (דברים טו ט) "בְּלִיַּעַל". וַהֲרֵי הוֹסִיף הַכָּתוּב לְהַזְהִיר וּלְצַוּוֹת שֶׁלֹּא יִמָּנַע אֶלָּא יִתֵּן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו י) "נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן לוֹ וְלֹא יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ בְּתִתְּךָ לוֹ" וְגוֹ'. וְהִבְטִיחַ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּשְׂכַר מִצְוָה זוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו י) "כִּי בִּגְלַל הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה יְבָרֶכְךָ" וְגוֹ':

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 141) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 477) includes this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. The Rambam's wording implies that the nullification of the debt comes as a result of the person's action. It is not automatically nullified at the conclusion of the seventh year. For that reason, the Rambam states in Halachah 28, when a person comes to pay a debt after the conclusion of the seventh, the creditor must say that he is nullifying the debt (Likkutei Sichot, Vol. XVII, p. 289ff.).

2.

For, according to the Rambam, the debt is not nullified until the conclusion of the Sabbatical year (Halachah 4).

3.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 230) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 475) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

4.

As stated in Chapter 10, Halachah 9, after the exile of the tribes of Reuven and Gad, the laws of the Jubilee year no longer applied according to Scriptural Law.

5.

See Chapter 10, Halachot 13, 15, for details regarding this concept.

6.

Gittin 36a.

7.

I.e., according to the Rambam's interpretation of Gittin, loc. cit., the nullification of debts applies in the present era, even in the Diaspora. His view is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67:1). In his gloss to that text, the Rama quotes different opinions among the Ashkenazic authorities. Some maintain that the Rabbis did not ordain the observance of this law in the present age. Others maintain that it should be observed as a custom. Significantly, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Halvaah 34, follows the Rambam's view.

8.

I.e., even according to Rabbinic Law (see Tosafot, Gittin, loc. cit.).

9.

With regard to the Hakhel ceremony. The interrelation of these verses has its source in the Sifri.

10.

According to other authorities, although the debt is not remitted until the end of the Sabbatical year, from the beginning of the Sabbatical year, the creditor is forbidden to demand payment. See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, loc. cit. 36.

11.

I.e., the sunset marking the advent of Rosh HaShanah.

12.

Because it is forbidden to demand its payment (Likkutei Sichot, loc. cit.).

13.

Since the people considered the day as a festival, the recipients of the meat could not pay for it in an ordinary manner. Hence they promised to pay for their shares later, considering the money as a debt [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:2)].

14.

When the laws of the annulment of debts would no longer apply. The Rambam is speaking about a situation that could have occurred in the time the new month was sanctified based on the testimony of witnesses (in contrast to the present era, when we follow a fixed calendar). In that era as well, the court had a presupposition of the day when Rosh HaShanah would fall and the people celebrated it as a holiday in anticipation of its sanctification. Nevertheless, the moon was not actually sanctified - and thus the holiday officially declared as such - unless witnesses came. Now it was possible, especially if the night was cloudy, that witnesses did not see the moon and hence could not go to the court to give testimony. Hence the day could not be declared as Rosh HaShanah.

15.

The Ra'avad questions the Rambam's ruling, based on the principle (stated in Halachah 11), that a debt stemming from money owed on account to a grocer is not nullified at the end of the Sabbatical year. Indeed, the source for this law (the Jerusalem Talmud, Sh'vi'it 10:1) states that it follows the opinion that maintains that such an account is nullified by the Sabbatical year. The Radbaz, however, explains that the situations are not identical. For it is common practice for a grocer to sell on account. A butcher, by contrast, expects immediate payment. A similar distinction is suggested by the Kessef Mishneh.

16.

I.e., once a loan is recorded in a promissory note, in the event the debtor does not pay, the creditor can use the promissory note to collect the debt from the landed property belonging to the debtor at the time of the loan (even if it was subsequently sold to others). Since the property is on lien, one might think that the situation is comparable to a loan supported by security (Halachah 14), which is not nullified by the Sabbatical year. That law, however, does not apply in the present instance, because although the lien applies to the debtor's property, it is not associated with a specific property.

17.

Since the land has been designated as payment, it is as if the loan has already been paid.

18.

For example, a person claimed that a colleague owed him 100 zuz and the colleague admitted only to owing 50. In such an instance, the colleague is required to take an oath regarding the other 50 zuz. If he fails to take the oath before the conclusion of the Sabbatical year, that obligation is nullified.

19.

This is a specific term that, as explained in Hilchot Sh'vuot 11:5-6, refers to oaths administered because of the denial of a specific and definite claim that would create a monetary obligation were the defendant to have admitted to it.

20.

See Hilchot Sh'vuot, loc. cit., which explains that these individuals can be compelled to take an oath even though the plaintiff does not have a definite claim against them.

21.

With regard to a watchman, the explanation is that - unlike a loan - the property being watched is considered as always being in the possession of the owner. Hence, the obligation for it is not nullified by the Sabbatical year (see Radbaz). A partner is considered as a watchman (Bava Batra 42b).

22.

The rationale is that the obligation was not firmly established before the conclusion of the Sabbatical year, for until the borrower's admission of the debt or the substantiation of the claim by witnesses, the creditor cannot press for payment in a court of law. Hence, the end of the year does not lead to the nullification of the debt. See the Jerusalem Talmud (Sh'vi'it 10:1). The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, but it is supported by the Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh and quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67:7). Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch does add to the Rambam's wording the concept that the debtor took an oath to support his denial. In his gloss to the Tur, the Darkei Moshe explains that addition, stating that unless the debtor has taken an oath to support his denial, then we are speaking of an ordinary loan and the conclusion of the Sabbatical year nullifies both the loan and the obligation of an oath to support one's denial, as stated in Halachah 6.

23.

For in ten years time, he will demand payment of the debt.

24.

For the loan has not become due. And as long as there is no payment demanded, the debt is not nullified, for the Sabbatical year only nullifies a debt for which payment is called for (the Responsa of Rabbenu Asher, sec. 86).

25.

The Radbaz and Rav Yosef Corcus explain that even though the collector has promised not to demand payment of the debt, since there is a payment date before the end of the Sabbatical year, the borrower is under obligation to pay. Hence, it is as if payment is being demanded from him.

26.

This is a general principle, applicable in many contexts. Whenever a person establishes a stipulation that runs contrary to the Torah's laws, his stipulation is nullified. For the Torah is not given over to man's will and no mortal can bend it to fit his whims (see Makkot 3b; Hilchot Ishut 6:9).

27.

The difference between this clause and the previous one can be explained as follows: In the previous instance, the person was attempting to postulate that the Torah's laws should not apply. This is not within a mortal's power. In the second clause, by contrast, the person is saying that although the laws of the Sabbatical Law do apply, he asks the borrower to accept an obligation even though the Torah releases him from it. Torah Law does not prevent him from accepting such an obligation. See the parallels in Hilchot Mechirah 11:15.

See also the comments of Beit Yosef (Choshen Mishpat 67), that one is permitted to make such a stipulation. It is not merely that, after the fact, one is bound by it.

Based on this principle, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Halva'ah:35 draws the following conclusion:

At present, in these countries, it is not customary [to employ] a pruzbol. [Some] have explained the custom [as follows]: Since it has become customary to collect all debts after the Sabbatical year, even without a pruzbol, and the borrower knows of this practice, it is as if the lender made a stipulation at the time of the loan that [the loan was being given] on condition that the borrower never nullify this debt, even in the Sabbatical year. Thus [the borrower] made himself liable for a financial obligation not required of him by the Torah in which instance, his stipulation is binding and he is obligated according to Scriptural Law.

Nevertheless, that text continues, stating that "any G‑d-fearing person will be stringent with regard to his own conduct and make a pruzbol, [for] it is something that does not involve a loss and is easy to arrange."

28.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:1), the Rambam explains that until a summary of an account is made, it is not considered as a debt. Instead, the seller trusts the purchaser and is willing to wait for payment. Thus all of the different transactions are considered as one sale. The Kessef Mishneh explains that since it is not customary for the seller to demand payment of such accounts, the account is not bound by the prohibition: "Do not demand payment." Hence, the mitzvah to nullify the obligation also does not apply.

Similar concepts are reflected in the treatment of the subject by Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Halva'ah, subsec. 39, which states: "Since a storekeeper usually extends credit for a year or two and it is unusual for him to demand payment immediately, it is as if he set a time for payment after the Sabbatical year."

29.

The Rama (Choshen Mishpat 67:14 offers two explanations for "establish[ing it] as a debt":

a) setting a time for payment;

b) totaling up the account to arrive at a sum.

30.

For in such an instance, it is no different than any other debt.

31.

Here also the Kessef Mishneh explains that since it is not common for a worker to demand payment of his wages immediately, until he does so, they are not considered as a debt.

32.

See Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Hilchot Na'arah, ch. 1.

33.

See Exodus 22:15-16, Hilchot Na'arah, ch. 1.

34.

See Deuteronomy 22:13-21, Hilchot Na'arah, ch. 3.

35.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:2, the Rambam explains that debts are obligations which a person accepts upon himself. Hence they can be nullified. These obligations, by contrast, are penalties imposed upon the transgressor by God. Hence, he cannot absolve himself from them unless he makes payment.

The Kessef Mishneh questions this explanation, for the Torah also requires a person to satisfy the monetary obligations he takes upon himself. He therefore explains that the intent is that since these penalties are written in the Torah, it is as the debts were handed over to the court in which instance, they are not nullified by the Sabbatical year, as stated in Halachah 15.

Rambam LeAm explains the difference between the two on the basis between the distinction between mamon, a financial obligation between men, which a man can release, and k'nas, a penalty required by God from the transgressor that although paid to the person violated is not an obligation to him.

36.

The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67:16) defines "establish[ing] as a debt" as calling the defendant to court. Sefer Meirat Einayim 67:31 emphasizes that once the court's decision is written up, it is considered as if the debt has been handed over to the court.

37.

The money he agrees to pay in the event of a divorce (or which his estate must pay in the event of his death).

38.

Since the obligation need not be paid until the woman demands payment, it is not considered as a debt that could be nullified by the Sabbatical year.

39.

I.e., she admitted that a certain portion of the money owed her had already been paid. See Hilchot Ishut 16:14.

40.

Kiddushin 9b states: "A creditor acquires the security given him." Thus when the loan is given in return for security, it is as if he transferred ownership of the security for the loan until it is repaid [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 9:2)]. Thus it is as if there is no outstanding obligation for the Sabbatical year to nullify.

41.

For this amount is not in his possession. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) quote other opinions which do not accept this view and maintain that this portion of the debt is not nullified. In his Kessef Mishneh, however, Rav Yosef Caro elaborates in support of the Rambam's position.

42.

Giving them the actual promissory note, not merely assigning it to them (Rav Yosef Corcus, explaining why this is acceptable according to Scriptural Law, while a pruzbol is merely a Rabbinic institution).

43.

The verse continues: "The Sabbatical year is drawing near and you will look negatively at your brother and refrain from giving him." See Halachah 30 which discusses this charge.

44.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:3), the Rambam cites the interpretation of this term in Gittin 37a: "the amendment of a matter."

45.

As stated in Halachah 2, the nullification of debts in the present era is a Rabbinic injunction. And since it is a Rabbinic institution, Hillel and his court had the power to institute a provision to reduce its application. Were it to have the power of a Scriptural Law, the Rabbis would not be able to institute such a provision.

46.

The Ra'avad differs with this concept, explaining that it applies even when the Sabbatical Law is observed according to Scriptural Law. The difference between the two authorities reflects a difference between the two Talmudic Sages, Abbaye and Rava, the Rambam follows Abbaye's understanding and the Ra'avad that of Rava. This, however, is slightly problematic, for the Bava Metzia 22b states that, with the exception of six specific instances, whenever there is a difference of opinion between these two Sages, the halachah follows Rava's understanding.

The Radbaz explains the Rambam's viewpoint, stating that our Sages' preference for Rava's position applies only when these Sages are arguing concerning their own logical conclusions. When, by contrast, they are arguing about the interpretation of another Sages' position as in the present instance, the halachah can follow Abaye's view.

47.

They were the heads of the leading courts in Eretz Yisrael shortly at the beginning of the post-Mishnaic era. Similarly, the court composing a pruzbol must be one of the leading courts in its region and in its era (Radbaz, Kessef Mishneh).

48.

Gittin 36b explains that the institution of a pruzbol depends on the principle hefker beit din, hefker; "When the Jewish court absolves a person's ownership, the absolution is binding." As proof of this principle, it cites examples of actions taken by Ezra the Scribe and Joshua. The Rambam understands the Talmud to be saying that even when a financial obligation is Rabbinic in origin, to absolve it, one must have authority comparable to that of Ezra and Joshua. (Significantly, in Hilchot Sanhedrin 24:6 - where the Rambam describes the above principle - and in Hilchot Nachalot 6:12 - where he shows another application of it - he does not state that the courts involved must be made up of judges of unique distinction.)

49.

The Tur (Choshen Mishpat 67) does not accept the Rambam's ruling and maintains that a pruzbol may be composed by any court. The Ramah (loc. cit.:18) states that this leniency can be accepted. Note also the contrast between this law and Halachah 27.

50.

Our translation is taken from the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:4).

51.

The Rambam is quoting the wording of the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:4). Although Rabbenu Nissim interprets this to mean that the Rambam accepts the view (Gittin 33a) that two judges are sufficient to compose a pruzbol, most authorities require that there be at least three judges on a court which officiates over a pruzbol, as indicated by the statement of the law in the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67:19).

52.

The creditor is not transferring the actual promissory note to the court - in which instance a pruzbol would not be necessary, as stated in Halachah 15. Instead, he is making a formal notification of the matter to the court. See Sefer Meirat Einayim 67:39.

53.

I.e., even after the Sabbatical year passes.

54.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam writes that this wording teaches us that a judge may also serve as a witness. This is not allowed in questions involving Scriptural Law, but in questions involving Rabbinic Law, leniency is granted.

55.

The rationale is that when the borrower possesses land, the creditor's debt is secured, because he may expropriate the land in payment (Radbaz). Even though the land does not appear to be worth the full value of the debt, we follow the principle (see Hilchot Mechirah 13:8) that the land may never be considered overpriced (Sefer Meirat Einayim 67:41).

56.

Our text follows the manuscript copies and early printings of the Mishneh Torah. The standard printed text reads slightly differently.

The lender may transfer this property to the borrower without his knowledge, but not against his will [Shulchan Aruch and Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 67:22)].

57.

Even if he possesses only a flowerpot with a hole in it.

58.

Since the borrower is entitled to use the land, he is considered to have sufficient rights to it to enable a pruzbol to be written.

59.

I.e., the man referred to here is the borrower.

60.

Since he is entitled to the benefit from this property, it can be used for a pruzbol.

61.

I.e., when a guardian took out a loan for the sake of orphans, if the guardian possesses land a pruzbol can be composed because the guardian is considered like a guarantor.

62.

Because ultimately, the guarantor's property is also on lien to the loan.

63.

For each one must entrust his debt to the court.

64.

For in the one pruzbol, he entrusts all of his debts to the court.

65.

This halachah, based on Sh'vi'it 10:5, was the subject of much review and rethinking within the Rambam's own mind. He rewrote his commentary to this mishnah four times, each time, changing his thought somewhat.

At first, he wrote that only a pruzbol written before a loan prevents it from being nullified. Once a loan has already been given, the laws of the Sabbatical year apply to it, and a pruzbol cannot nullify it. It was not until his second revision of his commentary that he changed it, amending it to read like his conclusion in the text above.

66.

Since that is the date on the pruzbol, its legal power takes effect from that date even though it was written later and it could have included the loans that were given until the date when it was actually composed.

67.

For it is nullified by the Sabbatical year.

68.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Ketubot 9:7), the Rambam explains that the lender's word is accepted based on the principle that a person will not sin when he could achieve the same result in a permitted manner (Gittin 37b). Since he could easily preserve the debt by composing a pruzbol, we assume that he did so rather than transgress the prohibitions of the Sabbatical year, as stated in Halachah 26.

69.

I.e., in the Talmudic era, the Roman's passed many decrees with the intent of stamping out the observance of the mitzvot. One of them was a prohibition to make a pruzbol (for by doing so, they would undermine the observance of the Sabbatical year). Failure to observe these decrees led to very severe punishment. In fear, many people would compose a pruzbol so that they could collect their debts, but destroy it lest it cause them danger (Kessef Mishneh).

70.

The Kessef Mishneh explains that even though the danger passed, the Rabbis never rescinded the leniency granted to allow for a uniformity in Jewish practice.

71.

Gittin, loc. cit. explains that this is like "opening the mouth of the dumb," i.e., offering support to a litigant to enable him to collect what is due him.

72.

Below the age of majority [Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67:28)].

73.

The Radbaz cites (Gittin 37a) which states that the Jewish court is considered as "the father of the orphans" and we assume that they do not want to impose Rabbinic decrees in a situation that will harm the orphan's interests. This applies both to loans that they themselves made or that their father made and which are due to his estate (Sefer Meirat Einayim 67:50).

74.

And thus the loan would be nullified by the Sabbatical year, as stated in Halachah 22.

75.

Based on the principle of migo, i.e., had he desired to lie, he would have told a more effective lie. This argument is reinforced by the accepted presumption mentioned previously: that if a person has a permitted way to perform a function, he will not use a forbidden path, i.e., he would make the loan with a valid pruzbol, rather than rely on an invalid one.

Generally, a migo is an accepted argument in its own right. Nevertheless, in this instance, the migo must be reinforced by the assumption, for migo is usually employed as an argument in defense of one's position and not to expropriate money and here the plaintiff is seeking to employ it to expropriate money (Biurei HaGra 67:58).

76.

See Halachah 11.

77.

To lie, i.e., here too, we are relying on the principle of migo, as reinforced by the assumption the Rambam proceeds to mention.

78.

Lending with a pruzbol.

79.

Lending without a pruzbol.

80.

The Rambam's wording implies that both the lender and the borrower must be Torah scholars. His ruling is quoted verbatim by the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67:20). The Rama, however, rules that not only Torah Sages, but even ordinary individuals can benefit from this leniency.

This leniency is part of the rationale, for the observance of the concept of pruzbol by the Ashkenazic community. Since all that is necessary to preserve a loan is a verbal statement made in the presence of three knowledgeable people, it is proper for everyone to do so (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Halva'ah:35).

81.

The Ra'avad (as understood by the Kessef Mishneh) objects to the Rambam's ruling, for, as stated in Halachah 17, the Rambam maintains that a pruzbol must be composed by a leading court, while here, he seems to imply that any few students are acceptable. The Kessef Mishneh resolves the apparent contradiction by saying that the students the Rambam refers to here are in fact distinguished judges, and there is no difference in practive between the subjects of the two halachot. Rav Yosef Corcus (in his gloss to Halachah 17) states that as long as the important court approves of such an act, the actual pruzbol may be made in the presence of lesser scholars.

82.

As stated in Halachah 18

83.

And thus, according to law, the debt is nullified and need not be repaid. This halachah is speaking about an instance where a pruzbol was not composed.

84.

I.e., they approve of this step and consider it pious behavior. The Sages thought it desirable for a debt to be returned, for in this way, people will continue lending each other money in the future.

85.

For according to law, he can no longer collect the debt.

86.

And thus, by accepting it, he is not violating the Torah's commandment to nullify the debt. Indeed, he has fulfilled the commandment to release the debt, for the Deuteronomy 15:2 introduces this commandment with the phrase: "This is the matter (d'var) of remission." D'var, translated as "matter," also relates to the word dibbur meaning "speech," implying that it is sufficient to make a statement of remission to fulfill the mitzvah [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 10:8)].

87.

For the debt has been absolved.

88.

Because it would resemble accepting payment for a debt.

89.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 231) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 480) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. See also Halachah 16 above.

90.

Zevachim 106a; Sifri to the above verse. The fact that this commandment employs two such terms indicates that it is a severe prohibition.

91.

As opposed to many other mitzvot for which reward is granted only in the World-to-Come. See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Pe'ah 1:1) for a discussion of this matter.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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