Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:1

סִימָן סה – הִלְכוֹת רִבִּית

Chapter 65: Laws of Interest

א: לפי שנפשו של אדם בטבעו חומד ומתאוה אל הממון, וקרוב יותר שיהא האדם נכשל באסור רבית מבשאר אסורין שבממון, כי בגזל ואונאה וכדומה, הרי משגיח על עצמו שלא יהא נגזל ושלא יתאנה, וגם זה שהוא רוצה לגזול או להונות את חברו, לפעמים הוא נמנע מחמת בושה או מחמת יראה, מה שאין כן ברבית, כי הלוה נותן לו ברצונו הטוב, והוא שמח, כי מצא מקום ללוות על כל פנים ברבית, וגם המלוה חושב בדעתו, כי הרי הוא עושה טובה גדולה עם הלוה שיוכל להרויח בממון זה כפלי כפלים יותר מן הרבית, ולכן נקל מאד שיהא אדם נתפתה חס ושלום מן היצר הרע להיות נכשל באסור זה. על כן החמרה תורתנו הקדושה מאד באסור זה, והרבה לאוין נאמרו בו, המלוה עובר בששה לאוין, ולא יקום בתחית המתים, שנאמר בנשך נתן ותרבית לקח וחי, לא יחיה. הלוה עובר בשלשה לאוין, הסופר, והעדים והערב עוברים כל אחד בלאו אחד. וכן הסרסור שהיה ביניהם או שסיע לאחד מהם, כגון שהורה מקום להלוה ללוות או שהורה מקום להמלוה להלוות, גם כן עובר בלאו אחד – יו”ד קס

A person’s soul naturally longs for and desires money, and it is more likely that a person will fail in the prohibition of interest than other monetary prohibitions, for theft, deceit, etc… a person can watch himself that he doesn’t steal or deceive his fellowman. At times he is stopped by embarrassment or fear/awe [from violating those other prohibitions]. Which isn’t true for interest, because the borrower gives it to him in goof will, and he is happy because he found a way to borrow the money even if with interest. And also the lender thinks in his mind that he did a great favor for the borrower who can now gain through this money multiples upon multiples more than the interest. Therefore, it is very easy that a person would (G-d forbid) be tempted by the yeitzer hara to fail in this prohibition.

Therefore, our holy Torah was very strict about this prohibition, and many specific prohibitions were declared about it. The lender violates 6 prohibitions and will not arise during the resurrection of the dead, as it says (Yechezqeil 18:13), “”He gave [money] at interest and took an increase – shall he live? He shall not live.” The borrower violates three prohibitions. The scribe [who wrote up the contract], the witnesses and the cosigner each violate one prohibition. So too the broker who dealt between them, or who recommended the deal to one of them, such as if he shows the borrower where to find the loan or the lender where to lend his money, he also violated one prohibition.


A thought about interest. If the problem were general moral grounds, then the prohibition would not be limited to charging Jews interest. As we saw with the laws of speech, which included all people, or those of correcting someone else’s financial mistakes, which included all non-idolaters. After all, as we see in our text, borrowing with money is often a win-win situation. If both sides gain, how can the problem be fiscal ethics?

The text of the verse is “וְכִֽי־יָמ֣וּךְ אָחִ֔יךָ וּמָ֥טָה יָד֖וֹ עִמָּ֑ךְ … אַל־תִּקַּ֤ח מֵֽאִתּוֹ֙ נֶ֣שֶׁךְ וְתַרְבִּ֔ית… — when your brother becomes poor, and his means fail from among you … do not take from him interest or increase…” (Vayiqra 25:35-26) The source of the prohibition appears to be that brothers don’t charge each other interest. The immorality is in the lack of Jewish unity implied, not in the interest itself.

This appears to be the Qitzur’s explanation why lending with interest has up to 6 specific violations involved. Because it lacks the basic moral imperative not to take advantage of others, people lack the natural reluctance or embarassment that keeps us from most fiscal wrongs. Therefore, Hashem provided more explicit exhortations in the Torah.

This lack of it actually being a moral issue also goes some of the way to explaining our willingness to engineer a heter iska, a contract that gains many of the advantages of an interest-bearing loan, but without the prohibitions. But that will wait for next chapter.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:2

ב: מי שנכשל ולקח רבית, מחיב להחזירהו – מלבד רבית מקדמת ורבית מאחרת דלקמן סעי’ ו’ – קס”א

Someone who stumbled and did take interest is obligated to return it; except for an increase collected before the loan, or one collected after the loan, as we shall see in law #6.


Given that the violation is a lack of fraternal feeling, it is possible that we would think that after the fact, if the interest were paid, it would be the property of the lender. However, this halakhah teaches us that the money should be repaid. Presumably (in other words: I’m guessing) because in the long run, it will foster that unity even if the loan is made interest-free after the fact.

The second clause excludes gifts given before the loan in an attempt to convince the lender to lend the money, or gifts given after the pay-back in appreciation for the loan.  (This aspect of the prohibition is discussed in full in 65:6.)  But actual interest must be returned to the borrower.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:3

ג: אפלו לא פסק עמו את הרבית בשעת הלואה, אלא שהלוה לו בחנם עד זמן פלוני, או שמכר לו איזה סחורה בהקפה עד זמן פלוני, או שחיב לו בענין אחר לשלם לו, יהיה מאיזה ענין שיהיה, ובהגיע זמן הפרעון פוסק לו איזה דבר בשביל שירחיב לו את הזמן, גם זאת היא רבית

Even if he didn’t settle the among of interest with him at the time of the loan, rather, he lent him for free until a given time, or sold him some merchandise for a deferred payment until some time, or he in some other way obligated him to pay him money in any way, and when the time for payment arrived he requested extra money in order to extend the deadline, this is prohibited interest.


Simply put, interest is paying to hold onto money. Including during the period of time in which someone delayed payment.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:4

ד: אפלו אם הלוה נותן לו יותר מדעתו בשעת הפרעון, שלא התנה עמו, ואינו אומר שנותנו לו בשביל רבית, גם כן אסור

Even if the borrower gives him extra by his own decision at the time of repayment, without it being agreed between them, and he never even says it’s interest, it too is prohibited.


I think this din as well as the whole notion that the one who pays interest violates prohibitions (other than causing the recipient to sin) really reinforces my “lack of fraternal feeling” theory rather than seeing ribis as being an immoral act perpetrated on the borrower.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:5

ה: אפלו אומר לו הלוה בשעת נתינת הרבית שהוא נותנה לו במתנה, גם כן אסור לקבלה ממנו. אבל אם כבר לקח ממנו רבית, והמלוה עושה תשובה, ורוצה להחזירה להלוה והוא מוחל לו, מתר

Even if the borrower says to him at the time of paying the extra that it’s a gift, it is also prohibited to accept it from him. However, if he already accepted the extra, then the lender does teshuvah and wishes to return the interest and the borrower forgives the money, then it is permitted [for the lender to keep it].

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:6

ו: אסור להקדים את הרבית או לאחר אותה. כיצד. היה ראובן רוצה ללוות משמעון מעות, ומקדים ושולח לו מתנה ופרש לו בשביל שילוהו, או שהיא מתנה מרבה, דמסתמא הוי כאלו פרש לו שהיא בשביל שילוהו, זוהי רבית מקדמת. לוה ממנו והחזיר לו מעותיו, והיה שולח לו מתנה בשביל מעותיו שהיו בטלות אצלו, זוהי רבית מאחרת

If is forbidden to pay the interest early or to pay it late. How is this?

Re’uvein wanted to borrow something from Shim’on, and he preceded [the loan] by sending him a gift explaining that it was in order that he [Shim'on] lend him money, or it was an excessive gift that of its own is just like he had explained that it was in order that he lend him, that is early interest.

If he borrowed from him and returned his money, and then sends him a gift [in appreciation] for the money which was left unused at his [Re'uvein the borrower's] place, this is delayed interest.


Lending your brother money should not require inducement nor expectations of huge gratittude. It’s what you do to help each other out. Therefore, such payments are included as ribis (literally: increase) even if they do not intuitively seem like interest.

That said, we saw in 65:2 that unlike true interest, if the gift was given (in violation of halakhah), there is no obligation to repay it.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:7

ז: אם אחד מלוה מעותיו לחברו על זמן מה, כדי שיחזור זה וילוהו פעם אחרת סך יותר לזמן כזה או סך כזה לזמן ארך יותר, זוהי רבית גמורה. ואם מלוה לו על מנת שילוה לו פעם אחרת סך כזה לזמן כזה, יש אומרים שגם כן אסור, ויש אומרים דמתר. ויש להחמיר. אך אם לא התנו כן אלא שהוא מלוה לו ברצונו פעם אחרת, אע”פ שאינו עושה כן, אלא מחמת שזה גם כן כבר הלוהו, בזה יש להקל

If one lends his money to a free for some time, so that the other would reciprocate and lend him much more money for a similar time, or a similar amount of money for more time, this is complete [i.e. textbook, Torah prohibited] interest.

If he lends him on the condition that the other will [at some other time] a similar amount for a similar time, some say this is also prophibited, some say it’s allowed, and it’s appropriate to be stringent.

However, if they did not make such a condition, however he happened of his own will to lend him money at another time, even though he doesn’t usually do this just that this person once lent him money, for this one can be lenient.


This touches on a complex issue — tit-for-tat favors. If it is done intentionally as a stated condition, such behavior is problematic. And if the favor received in exchange is greater, then the entire prohibition against interest is defeated! But even if not, while exchanging favors is permissible, to do so is relying on a leniency. This is a suboptimal way of viewing doing for others and the concept of gratitude.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:8

ח: צריך המלוה לזהר שלא להנות מן הלוה, שלא מדעתו כל זמן שמעותיו בידו, אפלו בדבר שהיה עושה לו אף אם לא הלוהו. שכיון שנהנה שלא ברשותו, נראה שסומך עליו שבשביל מעותיו שבידו ימחל לו. אבל אם נהנה ממנו מדעתו, מתר בדבר שהיה עושה לו אף אם לא הלוהו, ובלבד שלא יהא דבר של פרהסיא – ק”ס

The borrower must be careful not to get benefit from the lender without his knowledge at any time when [the borrower] has his money. Even something he would have done even had he not lent to him. Since he received benefit without his permission, it looks as though he is relying on his forgiving him because of the money he’s holding. However, if he benefited with his knowledge, it is permisssible if it’s something he would do to him even if he hadn’t borrowed it — as long as it’s not something public.


Note that the prohibition here isn’t interest, but the appearance of interest. However, it would still seem that if he actually was relying on someone’s goodwill because they borrowed money fdrom him, it would be interest. (Since that’s the “interest” this case would look like.) Like the previous entry, there is some kind of linkage implied between this prohibition and assuming a tit-for-tat attitude toward doing favors.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:9

ט: אם לא היה הלוה רגיל להקדים להמלוה שלום בפעם אחרת, אסור להקדים לו, ואסור לכבדו באיזה כבוד בבית הכנסת או במקום אחר, אם לא היה רגיל כן גם בפעם אחרת. וכן שאר רבית דברים בעלמא אסור, שנאמר נשך כל דבר אשר ישך, אפלו דבור אסור. וכן המלוה מזהר על ריבית דברים, כגון אם אומר להלוה, הודיעני אם יבא פלוני ממקום פלוני, אע”פ שאינו מטריחו אלא באמירה בעלמא, אם לא היה רגיל עמו בזה קדם לכן, ועתה סומך על הלואתו לצוות עליו, מפני שהוא נכנע לו, הרי זה רבית. ואם תאמר, והא כתיב, עבד לוה לאיש מלוה, זהו אינו אלא לענין אם נפל ביניהם דין ודברים, ואומר המלוה, נלך לבית- דין הגדול לדון שם, והלוה אומר לדון כאן, מחיב הלוה לילך כמו שרוצה המלוה, והמלוה אינו מחיב ללכת לבית- דין הגדול שבמקום אחר, משום שנאמר עבד לוה לאיש מלוה – סימן ק”ס וסימן קס”ו, ובחו”מ סימן י”ד

If the borrower was not accustomed to greet the lender first at other time, he is prohibited from [making sure to] be first [now]. And he is prohibited  from giving him any special honor in the synagogue or any other place,  if he wouldn’t normally do so at other times. Similarly, all matters of “interest through speech” are forbidden, , as it is says  (Devarim 23:20):  “interest of anything that is lent on interest” [which can also be read "interest of any speech that is lent on interest"] — even [an increase that is only] speech is forbidden.

Similarly, the lender [too] is warned against interest through speech, eg: if he said to the borrower, “tell me if so-and-so comes from a certain place”. Even though he is only giving him the bother of making a statement alone, if he didn’t usually do this with him before this, and now he’s relying on the loan to [give him the authority to] order him, becauswe he is indebted to him, this is prohibited interest.

If one says, “But it is written (Mishle 22:7): “the borrower is a servant to the lender’!” This is only about matters where a dispute and issues arise between them, and the lender says “let’s go to the court to adjudicate there” and the borrower says “[no, let us] judge here”,  the borrower is obliged to where the lender wants, the borrower is obliged to where the lender wants, and the lender is not obliged to go to a court in another place,  because it says, “the borrower is a servant to the lender”.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:10

י: אפלו טובת הנאה שאינה ממון, אסור להמלוה להנות מן הלוה, כגון שאם המלוה הוא בעל מלאכה, והלוה הזה אין דרכו לתן לו מלאכה בפעם אחרת, רק עתה מחמת שהלוהו רוצה לתת לו מלאכתו, אסור – קס

Even in the “benefit of pleasure” [ie: the satisfaction one feels in doing a favor for someone], which has no monetary value, it is forbidden for the lender to benefit from the borrower. For example, if lender is a craftsman, and this borrower does not usually, at other times, give give him work,  only now because of the loan, he wants to give him work, it is forbidden.


I think this pretty much closes the case on my theories about the prohibition of interest. This halakhah explicitly takes it out of the domain of money, removing connotations of the loss of money being theft-like or otherwise immoral. And, second, clearly places it in the context of avoiding tit-for-tat exchanges of favor. The notion that this all revolves around the verse’s description of the other Jew as “achikha“, your brother, and therefore lending money should be a simple fraternal reflex, is at this point compelling. (To my mind. Feel free to disagree in the comments!)