1

It is a mitzvah to lend money to Jews who are in need, as it is said, "If you lend money to My people, to the poor amongst you," etc.1 Although it is written "if", our Sages of blessed memory, received the tradition that this "if" is not an option, but an obligation. The Mechilta states that the verse, "If you lend money to my people," denotes an obligation. Why do you say it is an obligation? Perhaps it is really optional (since it states "if")? Because we can infer from the verse, "And you shall surely lend him,"2 that it is obligatory and not optional. The word "if" written here means, when you lend money, you should lend it to My people, and not to heathens. And to whom of My people? To him that is with you. From this they inferred that your poor relatives take precedence over other poor people, and the poor of your city take precedence over the poor of other cities.3 The mitzvah of lending money to a poor person is greater than giving charity to a poor beggar,4 for the latter has already been reduced to begging, while the former has not yet reached this stage. The Torah is provoked with one who refuses to lend money to the poor, as it is said, "And your eye be evil against your needy brother"5 etc. Concerning the one who lends to the needy in time of his distress, the Scripture says, "Then you shall call and God will answer."6

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְהַלְווֹת לַעֲנִיֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, אִם כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה אֶת עַמִּי אֶת הֶעָנִי עִמָּךְ וְגוֹ'. וְאַף עַל גַּב דִּכְתִיב אִם, קִבְּלוּ חֲכָמֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, דְּאִם זֶה, אֵינוֹ רְשׁוּת אֶלָּא חוֹבָה. הָכִי אָמְרִינָן בִּמְכִלְתָּא, אִם כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה אֶת עַמִּי, חוֹבָה. אַתָּה אוֹמֵר חוֹבָה, אוֹ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא רְשׁוּת (מִדִּכְתִיב אִם), תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר, הַעֲבֵט תַּעֲבִיטֶנוּ, חוֹבָה וְלֹא רְשׁוּת. וְהָא דִכְתִיב בִּלְשׁוֹן אִם, פֵּרוּשׁוֹ, אִם כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה, אֶת עַמִּי תַּלְוֵהוּ וְלֹא לַגּוֹי. וּלְאֵיזֶה מֵעַמִּי, לְאוֹתוֹ שֶׁעִמָּךְ. מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ, עָנִי שֶׁהוּא קְרוֹבוֹ, קוֹדֶם לַעֲנִיִּים אֲחֵרִים. וַעֲנִיֵי עִירוֹ, קֹדְמִים לַעֲנִיֵי עִיר אַחֶרֶת. וּגְדוֹלָה מִצְוַת הַלְוָאָה לְעָנִי, יוֹתֵר מִמִצְוַת צְדָקָה לְעָנִי הַשּׁוֹאֵל, שֶׁזֶה כְּבָר נִצְרַךְ לִשְׁאֹל, וְזֶה עֲדַיִן לֹא הִגִּיעַ לְמִדָּה זוֹ. וְהַתּוֹרָה הִקְפִּידָה עַל מִי שֶׁהוּא נִמְנָע מִלְּהַלְווֹת לְעָנִי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְרָעָה עֵינְךָ בְּאָחִיךָ הָאֶבְיוֹן וְגוֹ'. וְהַמַּלְוֵה לְעָנִי בִּשְׁעַת דָּחֳקוֹ, עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר, אָז תִּקְרָא וה' יַעֲנֶה.

2

Even if a rich man needs to borrow money, it is a mitzvah to lend it to him, and to cheer him with kind words, and to give him proper advice.

ב

אֲפִלּוּ עָשִׁיר, אִם צָרִיךְ לִלְווֹת, מִצְוָה לְהַלְווֹת לוֹ וּלְהַנּוֹתוֹ אַף בִּדְבָרִים וּלְיָעֳצוֹ עֵצָה הַהוֹגֶנֶת לוֹ.

3

It is forbidden to lend money without witnesses,7 not even to a Torah scholar,8 unless you are lending against a security. To lend money with legal documentation is the best course to take.

ג

אָסוּר לְהַלְווֹת בְּלֹא עֵדִים וַאֲפִלּוּ לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן מַלְוֵהוּ עַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן. וְהַמַּלְוֵה בִּשְׁטָר, מְשֻׁבָּח יוֹתֵר.

4

It is forbidden to demand payment from the borrower, when you know that he is unable to pay. It is forbidden even to appear before him, for he may be ashamed to see the lender, at a time when he is unable to repay the loan.9 Concerning this it is said, "You shall not be unto him like a creditor."10

ד

אָסוּר לִנְגֹּשׂ אֶת הַלֹּוֶה כְּשֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאֵין לוֹ לִפְרֹעַ. וַאֲפִלּוּ לַעֲבוֹר לְפָנָיו, אָסוּר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא נִכְלָם בִּרְאוֹתוֹ לַמַּלְוֶה וְאֵין יָדוֹ מַשֶׂגֶת לִפְרֹעַ, וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר, לֹא תִהְיֶה לוֹ כְּנשֶׁה.

5

Just as the lender is forbidden to demand payment from the borrower, so, too, is the borrower forbidden to withhold his friend's money, and tell him, "Go away and return later," when he actually has the money; as it is said, "Do not tell your friend, "Go away and return later."11

ה

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁאָסוּר לַמַּלְוֶה לִנְגֹּשׂ אֶת הַלֹּוֶה, כָּךְ אָסוּר לַלֹּוֶה לִכְבּוֹשׁ מָמוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁבְּיָדוֹ וְלוֹמַר לוֹ, לֵךְ וָשׁוּב, כְּשֶׁיֵשׁ לוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, אַל תֹּאמַר לְרֵעֲךָ לֵךְ וָשׁוּב.

6

A borrower is forbidden to take the loan, and spend it unnecessarily, and possibly lose it, and thus the lender will be unable to collect it. This applies even if the lender is very wealthy. One who does this is called a wicked person, as it is said, "The wicked borrow and do not repay."12 The Sages have commanded: "Your friend's property should be as dear to you as your own."13 If the lender recognizes that the borrower has this character, that he has no consideration for other people's property, it is better not to lend him, than to lend him and be compelled to press him later, thereby violating on each occasion the precept, "You shall not be to him like a creditor."

ו

אָסוּר לַלֹּוֶה לִקַּח אֶת הַהַלְוָאָה וּלְהוֹצִיאָהּ שֶׁלֹּא לְצֹרֶךְ עַד שֶׁתּוּכַל לְהֵאָבֵד וְלֹא יִמְצָא הַמַּלְוֵה מִמַּה לִּגְבּוֹת, וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הַמַּלְוֵה הוּא עָשִׁיר גָדוֹל. וְהָעוֹשֶׂה כֵּן, נִקְרָא רָשָׁע, שֶׁנֶּאֶמַר, לֹוֶה רָשָׁע וְלֹא יְשַׁלֵּם. וְצִוּוּ חֲכָמִים, יְהִי מָמוֹן חֲבֵרְךָ חָבִיב עָלֶיךָ כְּשֶׁלָךְ. וּכְשֶׁהַמַּלְוֵה מַכִּיר אֶת הַלֹּוֶה שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל מִדָּה זֹאת שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁגִּיחַ עַל מָמוֹן אֲחֵרִים, מוּטָב שֶׁלֹּא לְהַלְווֹת לוֹ, מִמַּה שֶׁיַלְוֵהוּ וְיִצְטָרֵךְ לְנָגְשׂוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ וְיַעֲבוֹר בְּכָל פַּעַם מִשּׁוּם לֹא תִהְיֶה לוֹ כְנשֶׁה.

7

If you lend money on a security, you must refrain from using the security, for this is like taking interest. If you lend a poor man money on [the security of] a shovel, or on an axe, or a similar thing, which can be rented out at a good fee, and is only slightly depreciated by use, you may rent it out without obtaining the owner's permission, and deduct the proceeds from the debt, as it may be assumed that the borrower would agree to it. Some Poskim say you may rent out these articles only to others, but not to yourself,14 lest you be suspected of using them free of charge merely because of the loan.

ז

הַמַּלְוֶה עַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן, צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹא יִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹ רִבִּית. וְאִם הִלְוָה לְעָנִי עַל מָרָא וְקַרְדֹּם וְכַיוֹצֵא בוֹ, שֶׁשְׂכָרוֹ מְרֻבָּה וְאֵינוֹ נִפְחָת אֶלָּא מְעַט, יָכוֹל לְהַשְׂכִּירוֹ אַף בְּלִי נְטִילַת רְשׁוּת מֵהַלֹּוֶה, וּלְנַכּוֹת לוֹ דְמֵי הַשְּׂכִירוּת בְּחוֹבוֹ, דְמִסְּתָמָא נִיחָא לֵהּ לַלֹּוֶה בְּכָךְ. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר, דְּדַוְקָא לַאֲחֵרִים יָכוֹל לְהַשְׂכִּירוֹ, אֲבָל לֹא לְעַצְמוֹ, שֶלֹּא יַחְשְׁדוּהוּ דְמִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ בְּחִנָם, רַק בִּשְׁבִיל הַהַלְוָאָה.

8

If the lender wants to take a security from the borrower, after the loan had been made, he should not do so by himself,15 but rather through Beis Din.

ח

אִם רוֹצֶה הַמַּלְוֵה לָקַחַת מַשְִׁכּוֹן מִן הַלֹּוֶה שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁעַת הַלְוָאָה אֶלָּא אַחַר כָּךְ, לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה כִּי אִם עַל פִּי בֵּית דִין.

9

You should avoid becoming a guarantor, or a trustee whenever possible.16

ט

לְעוֹלָם יַרְחִיק אָדָם אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הָעֲרֵבוּת וּמִן הַפִּקְדוֹנוֹת בְּכָל מַה דְּאֶפְשָׁר.

10

If you hold a note of indebtedness against your friend, and the document is worn out, and its script is fading17 you should go to a Beis Din and have it certified.

י

לִבֵית דִּין וְיַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ קִיּוּם.

11

It is forbidden to keep a paid note in your possession, for it is said,18 "Do not let unrighteousness dwell in your tents."19

יא

אָסוּר לְהַשְׁהוֹת שְׁטָר פָּרוּעַ בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְאַל תַּשְׁכֵּן בְּאֹהָלֶיךָ עַוְלָה.

12

Just as you must be careful to guard a deposited article, you must be careful to guard the security even more so; because you are like a paid watchman20 of the article. And just as a trustee is not permitted to give the article to another person to watch, as will be explained in chapter 188, so is the lender not permitted to deposit the security with someone else, or to give it as a security without the consent of the owner.

יב

כְּמוֹ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר בִּשְׁמִירַת פִּקָּדוֹן, כָּךְ צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר בִּשְׁמִירַת הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן בְּיוֹתֵר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹ שׁוֹמֵר שָׂכָר עַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהַנִּפְקָד אֵינוֹ רַשַׁאי לִמְסֹר אֶת הַפִּקָּדוֹן לְאַחֵר לְשָׁמְרוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קפח, כָּךְ אֵין הַמַּלְוֵה רַשַּׁאי לְהַפְקִיד אֶת הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן בְּיַד אַחֵר אוֹ לְמַשְׁכְּנוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים.

13

If you lend money to your friend on a security on condition that if he does not repay the loan at a certain date, he will forfeit the security, then you must be sure to tell the borrower when the loan is made, "If you do not redeem the security by such and such a date, it shall become mine retroactive to the present time."

יג

הַמַּלְוֵה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ עַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן, שֶׁאִם לֹא יִפְרָעֶנּוּ לִזְמַן פְּלוֹנִי, יְהֵא הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן חָלוּט לוֹ, יִזָּהֵר לוֹמַר לוֹ בִּשְׁעַת הַלְוָאָה, אִם לֹא תִפְדֶה אוֹתוֹ עַד זְמַן פְּלוּנִי, יְהֵא קָנוּי לִי מֵעַכְשָׁו.

14

If you know you owe your friend money, and your friend says to you: "I am certain you owe me nothing," you need not pay him, because he has apparently forgiven the debt.21

יד

מִי שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁחַיָּב לַחֲבֵרוֹ, וַחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹמֵר לוֹ, וַדַּאי לִי שֶׁאֵינְךָ חַיָב לִי, פָּטוּר מִלְשַׁלֵּם לוֹ, שֶהֲרֵי מָחַל לוֹ.

15

When a borrower chooses to repay the lender via a messenger, as soon as he gives the money to the messenger, the messenger acquires the money for the lender. Thereafter, if the borrower has regrets, and wishes to take back the money from the messenger, and repay the loan later, he is forbidden to do so; because this is borrowing without the owner's knowledge. The messenger is equally forbidden to return the money to the borrower.

טו

לֹוֶה שֶׁבָּא לִפְרוֹעַ לַמַּלְוֶה עַל יְדֵי שְּׁלִיחַ, מִיָד כְּשֶׁמָּסַר אֶת הַמָּעוֹת לִידֵי הַשְּׁלִיחַ, זָכָה הַשְּׁלִיחַ בַּמָּעוֹת עֲבוּר הַמַּלְוֶה, וּכְשֶׁהַלֹּוֶה מִתְחָרֵט וְרוֹצֶה לְקַחְתָּן מִיַּד הַשְּׁלִיחַ וְשְׁיִפְרַע לוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ, אָסוּר מִשּׁוּם דַּהֲוֵי לֵהּ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת, וְגַם עַל הַשְּׁלִיחַ יֵשׁ אִסּוּר לְהַחֲזִירָן לַלֹּוֶה.