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].