Shemitat Kesafim

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General Laws of Shemitat Kesafim

  1. At the end of the Shemittah year all loans are broken and may not be collected afterwards.[1] Most opinions hold that this mitzvah applies today on a rabbinic level.[2]
  2. The year 5775 or 2015 according to their counting is a Shemittah. The next Shemittah year is 5782 or 2022 according to their counting. [3]
  3. Shemittah breaks a debt whether it was written in a document or it was just oral.[4]
  4. If a person stipulates that Shemittah shouldn't break the debt, Shemittah nonetheless does break the debt. However, if a person specified that this particular debt shouldn't be broken by Shemittah the Shemittah doesn't break the debt.[5]
  5. A loan which isn't collectable until after Shemittah isn't broken by Shemittah. For example, if a person has a loan that isn't collectable for 10 years, the Shemittah doesn't break it before it is collectable.[6]
  6. If a person has a loan that was made without any specification of when it is collectable, it is only collectable after 30 days unless there is a clear practice otherwise, whether or not it is oral or written.[7] If a person made such a loan within 30 days of the end of the Shemittah year, some say that the Shemittah year breaks the debt[8], while others say it isn't broken.[9] One should be strict and write a prozbul to avoid this issue.[10]

Prozbul

  1. To avoid the issue of having one's debts broken during Shemittah so that people aren't deterred from lending money to a fellow Jew, Hillel invented the Prozbul. The Prozbul is a halachic document established by a significant Bet Din[11] that states "I, the lender, am giving to you Judges, so-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so, all of my debts so that I can collect it at any time". With this document, ones loans aren't broken.[12]
  2. According to most opinions, the pruzbul should be written Erev Rosh Hashana of the year after Shemita because the loans become nullified at the end of Shemita [13] However, some poskim do hold to one should write it on Erev Rosh Hashana of the Shemita year itself. [14]
  3. The prozbul is even effective for oral loans.[15]
  4. In order for prozbul to be effective the borrower has to own a piece of land.[16]
  5. One Pruzbul can be written for all loans [17]
  6. A husband can include a wife in his Pruzbol even if she does not explicitly appoint him as a Shaliach. [18]

Which Loans are Broken?

  1. A debt for unpaid purchases at a store isn't broken by the Shemittah, unless the debt was established as a loan.[19]
  2. A debt for a worker isn't broken by the Shemittah, unless the debt was established as a loan.[20]
  3. If one does not write a Pruzbul, it’s praiseworthy for the debtor to repay the loan as a gift anyway [21]

Links

Sources

  1. Gemara Erchin 28b says that Shemittah only breaks loans at the end of the year. This is codified by the Rambam (Shemittah VeYovel 9:4) and Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:30.
  2. Shulchan Aruch CM 67:1 writes that the mitzvah of Shemitat Kesafim applies today on a rabbinic level since Yovel doesn't apply today. Such is the opinion of the Rambam (Shemittah VeYovel 9:3) and Sefer Hachinuch 477. The Rama quotes some who hold that it doesn't apply at all nowadays but doesn't recommend relying on that opinion. Shach 67:2 quotes the Bach who says someone who follows the halacha in this matter should be blessed.
  3. Even though there was a dispute regarding the correct year of the Shemittah, the Rama CM 67:1 writes the correct counting is that year 5334 is a shemittah year, making year 5775 a shemitta year, by simply adding 441 which is divisible by 7.
  4. Mishna Sheviyit 10:1, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:2
  5. Shmuel in the Gemara Macot 3b, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:9
  6. The second version of Shmuel on Macot 3b, Tosfot Macot 3b s.v. ika quoting Rabbenu Tam, Ritva 3b s.v. ika quoting the Ramban, Rambam (Shemittah VeYovel 9:9), Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:10, unlike the opinion of Rabbenu Eliyahu quoted by the Ritva ad loc.
  7. Gemara Macot 3b, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 73:1. The Dvar Avraham 1:32 explains that the reason that the time limit of 30 days depends on the minhag is because it is only an asmachta. However, the Chasdei Dovid (Tosefta Bava Metsia 10:1) writes that even if it is biblical, nonetheless it doesn't apply if there's a practice since the practice makes it as though there was an explicit stipulation.
  8. Bach 67:13, Kesot 67:4, Tumim (Urim 67:27)
  9. Yechave Daat 4:62, Rashash (Macot 3b), Chiddushei HaRan (Shabbat 148b), Torat Zerayim (Sheviit 10:2), Minchat Chinuch 477
  10. Dvar Avraham 1:32
  11. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:18 writes that the bet din which sets up the prozbul needs to be a significant one with experts that were accepted by the townsmen. The Rama, however, argues that nowadays one can be lenient to have any bet din write up a prozbul.
  12. Mishna Sheviyit 10:2-3, Shulchan Aurch CM 67:18-9. There is a major dispute between Rashi (Macot 3b s.v. Moser) and Tosfot (Macot 3b s.v. Hamoser) as to the mechanism of the prozbul. Rashi maintains that the prozbul in effect transfers the ownership of the debts to Bet Din and since it isn't a personal debt it is collectable even after Shemittah. However, Tosfot argues that such a method would be effective on a biblical level but prozbul is only rabbinic. Rather, explains the Ritva (Macot 3b s.v. Uvemoser) along the lines of Tosfot, it is a mere declaration of the fact that one's debts are give over to Bet Din but in truth nothing is actually transferred.
  13. Shulchan Aruch 67:30, Sh"t Yechave Daat 4:62, Chatam Sofer CM 50.
  14. Shulchan Aruch Harav Hilchot Halva'ot Siman 36 based on the opinion of the Rosh Gittin 4:18, 20 that the prohibition to collect loans begins at the beginning of shemita
  15. Ritva Macot 3b s.v. Uvemoser, Rama CM 67:19
  16. Mishna Sheviyit 10:6, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:22
  17. Aruch HaShulchan CM 67:12
  18. Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon's Shemita Sefer in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach page 473
  19. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:14
  20. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 67:15
  21. Aruch HaShulchan CM 67:14