Midreshet Amit


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Lending and No Payback

By: Sarah Allice and Naomi Stochinsky

In Mishpatim we read about the mitzvah to lend money without charging interest.

אם כסף תלוה את עמי is how the pasuk starts, the word אםimplies that it is a condition. If you lend to someone then don’t charge interest. The Malbim explains that it is a conditional mitzvah. If you decide to lend a person money then this is how you do it. This contradicts the opinions of Rambam, Rashi and Seforno. The Rambam says that it is not a choice one must give tzedakah, lending money is an example. He quotes Devarim 15:8 to show that this is an obligation. Rashi explains that lending someone money is a higher commandment than just giving money. One shouldn’t wait until he becomes extremely poor. The Seforno explains that since there are poor people one must lend to them

How can the Malbim contradict these very strong opinions? The Sefer Chasidim explains explains the אם to be about conditions, someone who doesn’t pay back debts, someone who pretends to be poor or someone has no money but has food, someone who does not provide his children with food; it is a better mitzvah to give them food rather than lend them money that they abuse. In our year here at Midreshet Amit/Beit Hayeled, we try to have an impact on the lives of the children here lending/giving our time without expected anything in return. In the process we have gained as well.