1

Most Poskim [halachic authorities] agree that the cancellation of debts on the shemitah year, is effective even in our time,1 and even in lands outside Eretz Yisroel. The general public is lenient about this, and have been censured on this account by the great Torah scholars of Yisrael, of blessed memory. A few of them have tried to justify this [lax] custom by relying on a few [authorities]2 who are lenient about this. However, a person who wishes to observe mitzvos meticulously is certainly obligated to follow the opinion of the majority of poskim of blessed memory. Particularly so, when the problem can be solved by means of the prosbol, (see paragraph 15) without any monetary loss. The last Sabbatical Year was in 5635,3 and will occur, God willing, in the year 5642.4

א

הַסְכָּמַת רֹב הַפּוֹסְקִים דִּשְׁמִטַּת כְּסָפִים נוֹהֶגֶת גַּם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה, וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּחוּץ לָאָרֶץ. וְהָעוֹלָם נָהֲגוּ לְהָקֵל. וּכְבָר הִרְעִישׁוּ עַל זֹאת גְּדוֹלֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, וּקְצָת מֵהֶם טָרְחוּ לְלַמֵּד זְכוּת עַל הַמִּנְהָג שֶׁסּוֹמְכִין עַל קְצָת מְקִלִין. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְדַקְדֵּק בַּמִצְוֹת, בְּוַדַּאי מְחֻיָב לַעֲשׂוֹת כְּדַעַת רֹב הַפּוֹסְקִים זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה. וּבִפְרָט שֶׁיוּכַל לְתַקֵּן אֶת הַדָּבָר עַל יְדֵי פְּרוֹזְבּוּל וְלֹא יָבוֹא לִידֵי פְסִידָא. וּשְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה הָיְתָה בִֹּשְנַת תרל"ה, וְתִהְיֶה אִם יִרְצֶה הַשֵׁם בִּשְׁנַת תרמ"ב. [וְהַבָּאוֹת, אי"ה, תש"מ, תשמ"ז, תשנ"ד, תשס"א, תשס"ח, תשע"ה, תשפ"ב, תשפ"ט, תשצ"ו, תת"ג. וְכוּ'].

2

The Sabbatical Year (shemitah) cancels every type of loan, whether it is an oral loan, or on a note, or even on a property mortgage.5 If you gave your friend money, as a business partnership, (described in Chapter 66), whereby half of it is a loan and the other half is a deposit, the half that is considered a loan is cancelled, but the half that is a deposit is not cancelled.

ב

שְׁבִיעִית, מְשַׁמֶּטֶת כָּל מִלְוֶה, בֵּין מִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה, בֵּין מִלְוֶה בִּשְׁטָר, וַאֲפִלּוּ יֶשׁ בּוֹ אַחֲרָיוּת נְכָסִים. וּמִי שֶׁנָּתַן לַחֲבֵרוֹ מָעוֹת בְּתוֹרַת עִסְקָא, שֶׁהַדִּין הוּא שֶׁחֶצְיָן מִלְוֶה וְחֶצְיָן פִּקָּדוֹן, הַחֵצִי שֶׁהוּא מִלְוֶה מְשַׁמֵּט, וְהַחֵצִי שֶׁהוּא פִקָּדוֹן אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט.

3

If you lend someone on the security of a pledge [collateral], it is not cancelled6 (on shemitah); but if you lent him on the security of real estate, there are various halachic opinions regarding the cancellation of the debt.

ג

הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ עַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן, אֵינוֹ מְשׁמֵּט. וְאִם הִלְוָהוּ עַל מַשְׁכּוֹן קַרְקַע, יֵשׁ בָּזֶה חִלוּקֵי דִינִים.

4

If a guarantor paid the lender, and before the borrower had paid the guarantor, the Sabbatical Year intervened, shemitah cancels this debt.

ד

עָרֵב שֶׁפָּרַע לַמַּלְוֶה, וְקֹדֶם שֶׁפָּרַע הַלֹּוֶה לְהֶעָרֵב הִגִּיעָה שְׁנַת הַשְׁמִטָּה, מְשַׁמֵּט.

5

If someone is obliged to another, [to take] an oath concerning a monetary claim, and if he were to admit his liability, the shemitah would cancel his debt, then shemitah cancels the oath as well.

ה

מִי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵב לַחֲבֵרוֹ שְׁבוּעָה עַל מָמוֹן, שֶׁאִלּוּ הָיָה מוֹדֶה לוֹ הָיְתָה שְׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת אֶת הַמָּמוֹן, מְשַׁמֶּטֶת גַּם כֵּן אֶת הַשְׁבוּעָה.

6

If a man owes someone money and denies it, (and as a result) the claim was presented to Beis Din and he was charged, once the Beis Din recorded the verdict, and gave it to the lender, the shemitah does not cancel this debt.

ו

מִי שֶׁהָיָה חַיָב לַחֲבֵרוֹ מָמוֹן וְכָפַר, וְעָמְדוּ לַדִּין וְנִתְחַיֵב, וְכָתְבוּ בֵּית הַדִּין פְּסַק דִּין וּנְתָנוּהוּ לִדֵי הַמַּלְוֶה, אֵין הַשְּׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמַּטְתּוֹ.

7

If you lend money to someone on condition that shemitah will not cancel the debt, even so, shemitah cancels it. However, if a condition was made that the borrower shall not cancel this debt, even if this is during the shemitah year, it does not cancel it. Also, if the note was written with reference as a deposit, shemitah does not cancel this debt.

ז

הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִתְנָה עִמּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא תְשַׁמְּטֶנּוּ שְׁבִיעִית, אֲפִלּוּ הָכִי מְשַׁמַּטְתּוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הִתְנָה עִמּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַשְׁמִיט הוּא חוֹב זֶה, אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה זֶה בִּשְׁנַת הַשְׁמִטָּה, אֵינָהּ מְשַׁמַּטְתּוֹ. וְכֵן אִם כָּתַב בִּשְׁטָר לְשׁוֹן פִּקָּדוֹן, אֵינָהּ מְשַׁמֶּטֶת.

8

If you lend money to someone for a certain number of years, and the debt is due after the shemitah year, the debt is not cancelled, because you were unable to demand payment earlier.

ח

הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ לְאֵיזֶה שָׁנִים וְהִגִּיעַ זְמַן הַפֵּרָעוֹן לְאַחַר שְׁמִטָּה, אֵינָהּ מְשַׁמַּטְתּוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה יָכוֹל לְתָבְעוֹ קֹדֶם.

9

If you present your notes of indebtedness to Beis Din and say to them: "Collect my debts for me," they are not cancelled in the shemitah year.7

ט

הַמּוֹסֵר שְׁטָרוֹתָיו לְבֵית דִּין וְאָמַר לָהֶם, אַתֶּם גְּבוּ לִי חוֹבִי, אֵינוֹ נִשְׁמָט.

10

If you sell something to someone on credit, the money is considered a loan and shemitah cancels it. However, a storekeeper who sells to people on credit, and it is not his custom to demand payment until a certain amount accumulates,8 these debts are not cancelled. If, however, he charged them as a loan, that is, he totalled all the items, and entered the sum total in his ledger, then it is considered a loan,9 and shemitah cancels it.

י

הַמּוֹכֵר אֵיזֶה דָבָר לַחֲבֵרוֹ בְּהַקָּפָה, הֲוֵי לֵהּ כְאִלּוּ הִלְוָהוּ מָעוֹת, וּמְשַׁמֵּט. אֲבָל חֶנְוָנִי הַמּוֹכֵר לַאֲחֵרִים בְּהַקָּפָה, וְאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לִתְבֹּעַ עַד שֶׁמִּתְקַבֵּץ אֵיזֶה סַךְ, אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט. וְאִם זְקָפָן עָלָיו בְּמִלְוֶה, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁחָשַב הַכֹּל בְּיַחַד וְכָתַב בְּפִנְקָסוֹ סַךְ הַכּוֹלֵל, אֲזַי הֲוֵי כְּהַלְוָאָה וּמְשַׁמֵּט.

11

The wages of a laborer are not cancelled, but if they were converted into a loan, they are cancelled by shemitah.

יא

שְׂכַר שָׂכִיר, אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט. וְאִם זְקָפוֹ עָלָיו בְּמִלְוֶה, מְשַׁמֵּט.

12

Claims acquired from a non-Jew are treated as claims of a non-Jew. Therefore, if you purchase a note of indebtedness from a non-Jew, against a Jew, shemitah does not cancel it, for the non-Jew was able to collect with his note under all circumstances. Also, if one has become a guarantor to a non-Jew, on behalf of a Jew, and the Jew failed to pay his debt, so that the Jewish guarantor had to pay the non-Jew, and thus took the note that the non-Jew held against the borrower, shemitah does not cancel this note. However, if there is no note, but the guarantor sues the borrower orally, because he had to pay the non-Jew for him; then the borrower is exempt from payment.10

יב

הַבָּא מִכֹּחַ הַגּוֹי, הֲרֵי הוּא כַּגּוֹי. לָכֵן מִי שֶׁקָּנָה מִגּוֹי שְׁטַר חוֹב עַל יִשְֹרָאֵל, אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט, שֶׁהֲרֵי הַגּוֹי הָיָה גוֹבֶה בִּשְׁטָרוֹ לְעוֹלָם. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁעָרַב לַגּוֹי בְּעַד יִשְֹרָאֵל, וְלֹא פָרַע הַיִשְֹרָאֵל, וְהֻצְרַךְ הַיִשְֹרָאֵל הֶעָרֵב לִפְרֹעַ לַגּוֹי, וְנָטַל מִן הַגּוֹי אֶת הַשְׁטָר שֶׁעַל הַלֹּוֶה, אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הָיָה שְׁטָר, אֶלָּא שֶׁתּוֹבֵעַ לַחֲבֵרוֹ בְּעַל פֶּה, עַל שֶׁהֻצְרַךְ לִפְרֹעַ בַּעֲדוֹ לַגּוֹי, הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר.

13

Shemitah cancels monetary loans only at the end of the shemitah year. Therefore, if you lend someone money during the shemitah year, you may collect the debt during the entire year, but at sunset the eve of Rosh Hashana, the debt is cancelled.

יג

אֵין שְׁבִיעִית מְשַׁמֶּטֶת כְּסָפִים, אֶלָּא בְּסוֹפָהּ. לְפִיכָךְ הַמַּלְוֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בִּשְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה עַצְמָהּ, גּוֹבֶה חוֹבוֹ כָּל הַשָׁנָה. וּכְשֶׁתִּשְׁקַע הַחַמָּה בְּעֶרֶב רֹאשׁ הַשָׁנָה, אָבַד הַחוֹב.

14

If a borrower comes to pay his debt to the lender after the shemitah had passed, the lender should say to him: "I have cancelled your debt, and you are released from my claims." If the borrower says: "Even so, I want you to accept the money," the lender is permitted to accept it. However, the borrower should not say, "I am paying this on the account of my debt;" rather, he should say to him: "The money is mine, and I am giving it to you as a gift." The lender is [even] permitted to make an effort to persuade the borrower to say "I am giving you the money as a gift." However, if he is unable to [persuade him] he may not accept the money from him.

יד

לֹוֶה שֶׁבָּא לִפְרֹעַ לַמַּלְוֶה חוֹב שֶׁעָבַר עָלָיו שְׁמִטָּה, יֹאמַר לוֹ הַמַּלְוֶה, מְשַׁמֵּט אֲנִי אֶת הַחוֹב וּכְבָר נִפְטַרְתָּ מִמֶּנִי. אִם אָמַר לוֹ הַלֹּוֶה, אַף עַל פִּי כֵן רוֹצֶה אֲנִי שֶׁתְּקַבֵּל מִמֶּנִּי, מֻתָּר לַמַּלְוֶה לְקַבְּלוֹ מִמֶּנוּ. וְאַל יֹאמַר הַלּוֶֹה, בְּחוֹבִי אֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ, אֶלָּא יֹאמַר לוֹ, שֶׁלִּי הֵם וּבְמַתָּנָה אֲנִי נוֹתְנָם לָךְ. וְיָכוֹל הַמַּלְוֶה לַעֲשוֹת הִשְׁתַּדְּלוּת וְהִתְפָּעֲלוּת, שֶׁיֹּאמַר הַלֹּוֶה שֶׁהוּא נוֹתְנָם לוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה. וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִפְעֹל זֹאת, אַל יִקָּחֵם.

15

If there is a prosbol, shemitah does not cancel the debt. What is a prosbol and how is it obtained? The lender goes before three men, learned in Torah,11 who constitute a Beis Din. He says to them: "To you judges, I hand over all the claims I have against so and so, etc. so that I am able to collect these debts whenever I desire." They then write for him a prosbol which reads: "We were sitting together, as three [judges], and so-and-so the lender came and said in our presence, "I hand over etc." All three judges sign at the bottom of the document, either as judges or as witnesses. This can also be done at the end of the year, that is, on the eve of Rosh Hashana before sunset. Some Poskim say it is not necessary to write the prosbol, but it is sufficient if he declares this before the Beis Din. Even if there is no Beis Din in your town, you can declare: "I hand over my notes to the Beis Din which is in such and such a place.

טו

פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט. וּמַהוּ פְּרוֹזְבּוּל. הַמַּלְוֶה הוֹלֵךְ אֵצֶל שְׁלשָׁה בְּנֵי תוֹרָה שֶׁיִהְיוּ בֵּית דִּין, וְיֹאמַר אֲלֵיהֶם, אַתֶּם דַּיָנִים, מוֹסֵר אֲנִי לָכֶם, שֶׁכָּל חוֹב שֶׁיֶּשׁ לִי עַל פְּלוֹנִי וְעַל פְּלוֹנִי, שֶׁאֶגְבֶּה אוֹתָן חוֹבוֹת כָּל זְמַן שֶׁאֶרְצֶה. וְהֵמָּה כּוֹתְבִים לוֹ פְּרוֹזְבוּל בְּזוֹ הַלָּשׁוֹן, בְמוֹתַב תְּלָתָא כַחֲדָא הָוֵינָא, וַאֲתָא פְּלוֹנִי הַמַּלְוֵה וְאָמַר לְפָנֵינוּ, מוֹסֵר אֲנִי וְכוּ'. וּשְׁלָשְׁתָּן חוֹתְמִין לְמַטָּה, בִּלְשׁוֹן דַּיָּנִים אוֹ בִּלְשׁוֹן עֵדִים. וִיכוֹלִין לַעֲשׂוֹת זֹאת גַּם בְּסוֹף הַשָּׁנָה, דְּהַיְנוּ בְּעֶרֶב רֹאשׁ הַשָׁנָה קֹדֶם שְׁקִיעַת הַחַמָה. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, שֶׁאֵינָן צְרִיכִין דַוְקָא לִכְתֹּב אֶת הַפְּרוֹזְבּוּל, אֶלָּא דַּי בְּמַה שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר לִפְנֵיהֶם. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם אֵין בִּמְקוֹמוֹ בֵּית דִּין, יָכוֹל לוֹמַר, אֲנִי מוֹסֵר שְׁטָרוֹתַי לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁבִּמְקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי.

16

The prosbol is of no avail unless the borrower possesses some real estate, be it ever so small; even if he has only a flower pot with a hole in the bottom, it is sufficient. Even if the borrower has none, but the guarantor has some real estate, or someone who is indebted to the borrower has some, this too is sufficient. If none of these people possess any real estate, and the lender possesses some real estate, be it ever so small, he may transfer it to the borrower, even through a third party, and even in the borrower's absence,12 and this is sufficient to validate the prosbol.

טז

לֹא מַהֲנֵי פְּרוֹזְבּוּל אֶלָּא אִם יֵשׁ לַלֹּוֶה קַרְקַע. וַאֲפִלּוּ כָּל שֶׁהוּא, סַגֵּי. וַאֲפִלּוּ אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא עָצִיץ נָקוּב, סַגֵי. וַאֲפִלּוּ אֵין לַלֹּוֶה כְּלוּם, אֶלָּא שֶׁיֵשׁ לֶעָרֵב אוֹ שֶׁיֵשׁ לְמִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָב לוֹ לְלֹוֶה זֶה, נַמֵּי מַהֲנֵי. וְאִם גַּם לְאֵלּוּ אֵין לָהֶם כְּלָל, אִם יֵש לַמַּלְוֶה קַרְקַע כָּל שֶׁהוּא, יָכוֹל לְזַכּוֹת לוֹ לַלֹּוֶה, וַאֲפִלּוּ עַל יְדֵי אַחֵר, וַאֲפִלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא בְפָנָיו, וּמַהֲנֵי לִפְרוֹזְבּוּל.