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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Malveh veLoveh - Chapter 11

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Malveh veLoveh - Chapter 11


When a person lends money to a colleague in the presence of witnesses, or a borrower tells witnesses: "Serve as witnesses for me that I owe this person a maneh" or "You are my witnesses that I owe this person a maneh," the obligation established is referred to as a milveh b'al peh, "a loan supported by an oral commitment." Such a debt need not be repaid in the presence of witnesses.' Therefore, if the debtor claims: "I repaid the debt," he is required to take a sh'vuat hesset and is discharged.

When, by contrast, a person lends money to a colleague and has the debt supported by a promissory note, the debtor must repay him in the presence of witnesses. Therefore, if the debtor claims: "I paid this promissory note," his words are not accepted. Instead, we tell him: "Bring witnesses who testify that you paid or "Arise and pay the debt you owe him."

Therefore, when a person tells witnesses: "Serve as witnesses for me that I owe this person a maneh" they may not write down a record of their testimony and give it to the lender, unless the borrower tells them: "Write a promissory note, sign it and give it to the lender. The rationale is that their testimony, which is only oral, should not be given the legal power of a promissory note. Even when the borrower gives such instructions, they should consult with him after they have signed the promissory note. Only afterwards, may they give the promissory note to the lender in his hand.

If they performed a kinyan with the borrower affirming that he owes the lender a maneh, the witnesses may write a promissory note and give it to the lender, even though the borrower did not instruct them to do so. The rationale is that when a kinyan is performed without any further instructions, it is ready to be recorded in a legal document. There is no need to consult the borrower.


הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בִּפני עֵדִים אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לְעֵדִים הֱיוּ עָלַי עֵדִים שֶׁאֲנִי חַיָּב לָזֶה מָנֶה אוֹ אַתֶּם עֵדַי שֶׁאֲנִי חַיָּב לָזֶה מָנֶה. זוֹ נִקְרֵאת מִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְפָרְעוֹ בְּעֵדִים. לְפִיכָךְ אִם טָעַן וְאָמַר אַחַר כָּךְ פָּרַעְתִּי נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת וְנִפְטָר. אֲבָל הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בִּשְׁטָר צָרִיךְ לְפָרְעוֹ בְּעֵדִים לְפִיכָךְ אִם טָעַן וְאָמַר פָּרַעְתִּי שְׁטָר זֶה אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים לוֹ אוֹ הָבֵא עֵדִים אוֹ עֲמֹד וְשַׁלֵּם לוֹ חוֹבוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ הָאוֹמֵר לְעֵדִים הֱיוּ עָלַי עֵדִים שֶׁאֲנִי חַיָּב לָזֶה מָנֶה אֵין כּוֹתְבִין עֵדוּתָן וְנוֹתְנִין לַמַּלְוֶה. שֶׁלֹּא יַחֲזִירוֹ לַמַּלְוֶה עַל פִּי עֵדוּת בִּשְׁטָר עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לָהֶן הַלּוֶֹה כִּתְבוּ שְׁטָר וְחִתְמוּ וּתְנוּ לוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶן כָּךְ צְרִיכִין לְהִמָּלֵךְ בּוֹ אַחַר שֶׁחָתְמוּ בַּשְּׁטָר וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹתְנִין הַשְּׁטָר בְּיַד הַמַּלְוֶה. קָנוּ מִיָּדוֹ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ מָנֶה הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כּוֹתְבִין וְנוֹתְנִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לָהֶן כְּתֹבוּ שֶׁסְּתָם קִנְיָן לִכְתִיבָה עוֹמֵד וְאֵינָן צְרִיכִין לְהִמָּלֵךְ בּוֹ:


When a borrower writes a document by himself and witnesses write testimony upon it and give it to the lender, it is an acceptable promissory note.

Similarly, should the borrower compose a promissory note - even when there are no witnesses who sign it - and give it to the lender in the presence of witnesses, the loan is considered to be backed by a promissory note, provided that it is written with a script that cannot be forged and that the witnesses in whose presence it was transferred read it.

There are Geonim who ruled that the borrower should tell the witnesses in whose presence the promissory note was transferred: "Sign the note or testify that it was transferred in your presence."


לוֶֹה שֶׁכָּתַב שְׁטָר בִּכְתַב יָדוֹ וְהֵעִיד בּוֹ עֵדִים וּנְתָנוֹ לַמַּלְוֶה הֲרֵי זֶה שְׁטָר כָּשֵׁר. וְכֵן אִם כָּתַב שְׁטָר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ עֵדִים וּנְתָנוֹ לַמַּלְוֶה בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים הֲרֵי זוֹ מִלְוֶה בִּשְׁטָר. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כְּתָב שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִזְדַּיֵּף וְיִקְרְאוּ אוֹתוֹ הָעֵדִים שֶׁנִּמְסַר בִּפְנֵיהֶם. וְיֵשׁ מִן הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁהוֹרָה שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לוֹמַר לָעֵדִים שֶׁמָּסְרוּ בִּפְנֵיהֶם חִתְמוּ וְהָעִידוּ שֶׁנִּמְסַר בִּפְנֵיכֶם:


If the lender produces a note written by the borrower , which states that he owes the lender money, but there are no witnesses who have signed it, it is considered as merely a loan supported by an oral commitment with regard to all matters. This applies even if the authenticity of his writing was verified.

Hence, if the borrower claims to have paid the debt, and the lender denies receiving payment, the borrower need only take a sh'vuat hesset before being dismissed. Nor may the lender use this note to expropriate property from the heirs, nor from the purchasers.


הוֹצִיא עָלָיו כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ וְאֵין שָׁם עֵדִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֻחְזַק כְּתַב יָדוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין הֲרֵי זֶה כְּמִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה לְכָל דָּבָר. וְאִם טָעַן שֶׁפָּרַע נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת וְנִפְטָר וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה בִּכְתָב זֶה לֹא מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין וְלֹא מִן הַלָּקוֹחוֹת:


Whenever a loan is supported by a promissory note, the lender may use this note to expropriate property from the heirs and from the purchasers, as will be explained. When, by contrast, a loan is merely supported by an oral commitment, the lender may expropriate payment from the heirs, but not from the purchasers. The rationale for this restriction is that such a loan does not become public knowledge. Therefore, the lender may not expropriate property because of such an obligation.

A loan supported by a promissory note, by contrast, does become public knowledge. Therefore, it may be used to expropriate property that was sold. The purchaser of such property caused himself a loss, because he did not inquire to the extent that he discovered that the property of the person he purchased it from was on lien because of the loan that person had taken. For according to Scriptural Law, all property belonging to a borrower is on lien to the loan.


כָּל מִלְוֶה בִּשְׁטָר גּוֹבֶה אוֹתָהּ מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין וּמִן הַלָּקוֹחוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. וּמִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה גּוֹבֶה אוֹתָהּ מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה אוֹתָהּ מִן הַלָּקוֹחוֹת לְפִי שֶׁאֵין לָהּ קוֹל לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יִטְרֹף בָּהּ. אֲבָל מִלְוֶה שֶׁבִּשְׁטָר קוֹל יֵשׁ לָהּ וְהַלּוֹקֵחַ הִפְסִיד עַל עַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא שָׁאַל עַד שֶׁיָּדַע שֶׁנְּכָסָיו שֶׁל זֶה מְשֻׁעְבָּדִין בַּמִּלְוֶה שֶׁעָלָיו. שֶׁכָּל נִכְסֵי הַלּוֶֹה תַּחַת שִׁעְבּוּד הַמַּלְוֶה מִן הַתּוֹרָה:


When a person sells his field in the presence of witnesses, and a creditor of the seller expropriates the field from the purchaser, the purchaser may expropriate the money due him from property that was on lien to the sale that had been sold to others, as will be explained. The rationale is that whenever a person makes a sale, it is done in public and becomes common knowledge.


הַמּוֹכֵר שָׂדֵהוּ בְּעֵדִים וְיָצָאת מִתַּחַת יְדֵי הַלּוֹקֵחַ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם שְׁטָר בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ הֲרֵי זֶה חוֹזֵר וְטוֹרֵף מִנְּכָסִים מְשֻׁעְבָּדִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. שֶׁכָּל הַמּוֹכֵר בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא מוֹכֵר וְקוֹל יֵשׁ לוֹ:


A loan that is supported by an oral commitment alone may be collected from heirs only in one of the following three instances:

a) the person who is liable admits his debt, and while mortally ill stated that he still owes so-and-so a debt;

b) the loan was given for a specific time, and the time for payment had not come; we operate under the presumption that a person will not pay a debt until it is due;

c) because of his failure to pay, the debtor was placed under a ban of ostracism until he would make restitution, and he died while under that ban.

In all these instances, the creditor may collect the debt from the heirs without having to take an oath. If, however, witnesses come and testify that the deceased owed a colleague a maneh, or that he borrowed money in their presence, the creditor may not collect anything from the heirs, because it is possible that the deceased repaid the loan. For a person who borrowed money from a colleague in the presence of witnesses does not have to repay him in the presence of witnesses. Similarly, if a person shows heirs a note from their father stating that he owes the claimant money, he may not collect anything because of it, as we have explained.


אֵין הַהַלְוָאָה שֶׁעַל פֶּה נִגְבֵּית מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין אֶלָּא בְּאֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ. כְּשֶׁחַיָּב מוֹדֶה בָּהּ וְצִוָּה בְּחָלְיוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִפְלוֹנִי עָלָיו חוֹב עֲדַיִן. אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה הַהַלְוָאָה לִזְמַן וְלֹא הִגִּיעַ זְמַן לְפָרְעָהּ וַחֲזָקָה הִיא שֶׁאֵין אָדָם פּוֹרֵעַ בְּתוֹךְ זְמַנּוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁנִּדּוּהוּ עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן וּמֵת בְּנִדּוּיוֹ. כָּל אֵלּוּ גּוֹבִין מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין בְּלֹא שְׁבוּעָה. אֲבָל אִם בָּאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁהָיָה חַיָּב לָזֶה מָנֶה אוֹ בְּפָנֵינוּ הִלְוָהוּ אֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה מִן הַיּוֹרֵשׁ כְּלוּם שֶׁמָּא פְּרָעוֹ שֶׁהַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּעֵדִים אֵין צָרִיךְ לְפָרְעוֹ בְּעֵדִים. וְכֵן אִם מוֹצִיא כְּתַב יַד אֲבִיהֶן שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ אֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה בּוֹ כְּלוּם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


The following rules apply when a borrower does not own movable property, but does own landed property. If the court is aware that he has deposited his money in the hands of other people, we compel him to sell the landed property and pay his creditor.

If this is not known to them, they issue a ban of ostracism against anyone who knows that the debtor possesses movable property and does not bring it to court. Afterwards, they take possession of property he owns that is of intermediate worth and expropriate it for the creditor, as will be explained.

When does the above apply? When payment is collected from the debtor himself. When, however, a person comes to collect payment from heirs -whether they are above or below majority - he does not have the right to collect from the movable property belonging to the estate even if it was entrusted or loaned to another person. For movable property inherited by heirs is not under lien according to Scriptural Law. '


לוֶֹה שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין וְיֵשׁ לוֹ קַרְקַע אִם נוֹדַע לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁתּוֹלֶה מְעוֹתָיו בְּיַד אֲחֵרִים כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר וְלִתֵּן לְבַעַל חוֹבוֹ. וְאִם לֹא נוֹדַע לָהֶם דָּבָר זֶה מַחְרִימִין עַל מִי שֶׁיֵּדַע לוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין וְלֹא יְבִיאֵם. וְאַחַר כָּךְ יוֹרְדִין לְבֵינוֹנִית שֶׁבִּנְכָסָיו וּמַגְבִּין לְבַעַל חוֹבוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁנִּפְרָעִין מִן הַלּוֶֹה עַצְמוֹ. אֲבָל הַבָּא לִפָּרַע מִן הַיּוֹרֵשׁ בֵּין קָטָן בֵּין גָּדוֹל לֹא יִפָּרַע מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ מֻפְקָדִין אוֹ מִלְוֶה אֵצֶל אֲחֵרִים. שֶׁהַמִּטַּלְטְלִין אֵינָן תַּחַת שִׁעְבּוּד בַּעַל חוֹב מִן הַתּוֹרָה:


It is a mitzvah for the heirs to pay a debt left by their father from the movable property that he left. If an heir does not desire to make restitution, however, he is not compelled to do so. If the creditor seized property belonging to the debtor in the debtor's lifetime, he may collect his due from it.

If a creditor claims that he seized property during the debtor's lifetime, and the debtor's heir claims that the creditor seized the property after the debtor's death, the heir has the responsibility of proving his claim. Alternatively, the lender must take an oath that he was owed so-and-so much - he can claim up to the value of the property in his possession - and include in his oath that he seized the property in the debtor's lifetime.

If the property that he seized included promissory notes, and the lender claims that he is holding them as security for a debt and that he seized them during the debtor's lifetime, the lender must prove that he seized them during the debtor's lifetime. If he cannot bring proof, he should return them to the heirs. The difference is that with regard to promissory notes, he is not claiming the acquisition of the obligation itself, but rather proof that such an obligation exists.


מִצְוָה עַל הַיְתוֹמִין לִפְרֹעַ חוֹב אֲבִיהֶן מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין שֶׁהִנִּיחַ. וְאִם לֹא רָצָה הַיּוֹרֵשׁ לִתֵּן אֵין כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאִם תָּפַס בַּעַל חוֹב מֵחַיִּים גּוֹבֶה מֵהֶן. טָעַן שֶׁמֵּחַיִּים תְּפָסָן וְהַיּוֹרֵשׁ טָעַן שֶׁאַחַר מִיתָה תָּפַס עַל הַיּוֹרֵשׁ לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה אוֹ יִשָּׁבַע הַמַּלְוֶה שֶׁכָּךְ וְכָךְ הוּא חַיָּב לוֹ וְיָכוֹל לִטְעֹן עַד כְּדֵי דְּמֵיהֶן וְכוֹלֵל בִּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ שֶׁמֵּחַיִּים תָּפַס. הָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁתָּפַס שְׁטָרוֹת וְטָעַן שֶׁהֵן מַשְׁכּוֹן בְּיָדוֹ עַל חוֹבוֹ וְשֶׁמֵּחַיִּים תָּפַס. עַל הַמַּלְוֶה לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁמֵּחַיִּים תָּפַס. וְאִם לֹא הֵבִיא רְאָיָה יַחְזִיר לַיּוֹרְשִׁים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ טוֹעֵן לִקְנוֹת גּוּפָם אֶלָּא לָרְאָיָה שֶׁבָּהֶן:


When heirs expropriated landed property because of a debt that others owed their father, a creditor of their father's can expropriate it from them. The rationale is that this land was in effect their father's.


יְתוֹמִים שֶׁגָּבוּ קַרְקַע בְּחוֹב שֶׁהָיָה לַאֲבִיהֶן אֵצֶל אֲחֵרִים יֵשׁ לְבַעַל חוֹב שֶׁל אֲבִיהֶם לַחְזֹר וְלִגְבּוֹת אוֹתָהּ מֵהֶן שֶׁהֲרֵי קַרְקַע זוֹ שֶׁל אֲבִיהֶם הִיא:


The above principles can be extended and applied in the following situation. Reuven sold a field to Shimon, accepting financial responsibility for the sale. Shimon did not pay immediately, but instead had Reuven consider the price of the field as a loan. Reuven died afterwards. Reuven's creditor then came to expropriate the field from Shimon. Instead of giving the creditor the field, Shimon appeased him with money, and he departed.

According to the law, Reuven's heirs may come and demand that Shimon pay the debt that he owed Reuven, for that loan is not on lien to Reuven's creditor.

Therefore, if Shimon is clever, he should give Reuven's heirs the land he purchased from them as payment for the debt that he accepted upon himself. He can then expropriate the property from them, because of the money that he gave to Reuven's creditor so that he would not expropriate it from him. This option is available because Reuven took financial responsibility for the field Shimon purchased.


רְאוּבֵן שֶׁמָּכַר שָׂדֶה לְשִׁמְעוֹן בְּאַחֲרָיוּת וְזָקַף שִׁמְעוֹן דְּמֵי הַשָּׂדֶה עָלָיו מִלְוֶה לִרְאוּבֵן וּמֵת רְאוּבֵן וּבָא בַּעַל חוֹב שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן לִטְרֹף מִשִּׁמְעוֹן הַשָּׂדֶה וּפִיְּסוֹ שִׁמְעוֹן בְּמָעוֹת וְהָלַךְ לוֹ. הַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ יוֹרְשֵׁי רְאוּבֵן וְיִתְבְּעוּ שִׁמְעוֹן בַּמִּלְוֶה שֶׁזָּקַף עָלָיו שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָהּ מְשֻׁעְבֶּדֶת לְבַעַל חוֹב שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיָה שִׁמְעוֹן פִּקֵּחַ נוֹתֵן לָהֶן הַקַּרְקַע שֶׁלָּקַח מֵרְאוּבֵן בַּמִּלְוֶה שֶׁזָּקַף עַל עַצְמוֹ וְחוֹזֵר וְטוֹרֵף אוֹתָהּ מֵהֶן מִפְּנֵי הַמָּעוֹת שֶׁנָּתַן לְבַעַל חוֹב שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִטְרֹף אוֹתָהּ מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּאַחֲרָיוּת לְקָחָהּ מֵרְאוּבֵן:


All of the Geonim have ordained, however, that a creditor may expropriate movable property from the heirs in payment for a debt. This judgment is enforced universally in all courts of law.

In the West, however, they would have a provision written in the promissory notes giving the creditor the right to collect the debt from either landed property or movable property in the creditor's lifetime or after his death. Thus, this provision gives the creditor more power to collect the debt than the ordinance of the Geonim.

This is a great safeguard, because it is possible that the borrower will not have known about ordinance, and thus the property of the heirs will be expropriated unjustly, because an ordinance of the later Sages does not have the legal power to be binding upon heirs.


כְּבָר תִּקְּנוּ גְּאוֹנִים הָאַחֲרוֹנִים כֻּלָּם שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בַּעַל חוֹב גּוֹבֶה מִטַּלְטְלִין מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין. וְכֵן דָּנִין יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל בֵּית דִּין שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם. אֲבָל בַּמַּעֲרָב הָיוּ כּוֹתְבִין בְּשִׁטְרֵי חוֹבוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִגְבּוֹת מִן הַקַּרְקַע וּמִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין בֵּין בְּחַיָּיו בֵּין אַחַר מוֹתוֹ וְנִמְצָא גּוֹבֶה עַל תְּנַאי זֶה יוֹתֵר מִן הַתַּקָּנָה. וּסְיָג גָּדוֹל עָשׂוּ בַּדָּבָר שֶׁמָּא לֹא יֵדַע הַלּוֶֹה בְּתַקָּנָה זוֹ וְנִמְצָא מָמוֹן יְתוֹמִים יוֹצֵא שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין. שֶׁאֵין כֹּחַ בְּתַקָּנַת אַחֲרוֹנִים לְחַיֵּב בָּהּ יְתוֹמִים:

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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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