Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 185:5
A worker who was doing work for the homeowner and lost it, even intentionally [or through gross negligence] in a manner that by law he would have to be obligated in repayment, it is a mitzvah upon the homeowner to enter with him beyond the limit of the law and forgive him [the debt]. As it says, “so that you will walk in the ways of the good ones [or: in good ways].” If the hire is poor and doesn’t have what to eat, it’s a mitzvah to pay him his wages, as it says, “and the ways of the righteous you shall observe.”
This is the way of the righteous, so guard Hashem’s way, to do what’s right and justice beyond the letter of the law.
The Qitzur’s obvious source is the following gemara (Bava Metzi’ah 83a):
רבה בר בר חנן תברו ליה הנהו שקולאי חביתא דחמרא. שקל לגלימייהו. אתו, אמרו לרב. אמר ליה, “הב להו גלימייהו.” אמר ליה, “דינא הכי?” אמר ליה, “אין — “למען תלך בדרך טובים.’ (משלי ב)” יהיב להו גלימייהו, אמרו ליה, “עניי אנן, וטרחינן כולה יומא, וכפינן, ולית לן מידי!” אמר ליה, “זיל הב אגרייהו.” א”ל, “דינא הכי?” אמר ליה, “אין — ‘וארחות צדיקים תשמור’ (משלי ב)”:
Rabbah bar bar Chanan had some porters who broke his barrel of wine. He grabbed their cloaks. They went and told Rav. Rav said to [Rabbah] “Give them their cloaks.” He said to [Rav], “Is this the law?” [Rav] said to Rabbah], “Yes — ‘so that you will walk in the ways of the good’ (Mishlei 2:20)”. He gave them their cloaks. They said to him, “We are poor, and we labored all day, and now we are exhausted, and we don’t have anything!” [Rav] said to Raba, “Go give them their wages.” He said to [Rav], “Is that the law?” [Rav] said to Rabbah], “Yes — ‘and the way of the righteous you shall observe’ (ibid)”.
This gemara involves a favorite paradox. Rav tells Rabbah bar bar Chanan that it is the letter of the law for him in this instance to go beyond the letter of the law. That there is a time when the law requires going beyond its own limits to do what is moral and generous. The Qitzur too here codifies a law and then tells us it’s an obligation to go beyond the limits of obligation, to the ways of the righteous.
A law not in the act — it’s beyond the limits of the laws of actions, but in who we should be — one of the good and the righteous.