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Blame for not repaying loan.

Question:

If at the time of the loan the borrower did not have the means to repay but had reasonable ground to think that he would at the due date is he still blamed?

Answer:

Thank you for your question on this sensitive topic.

Unfortunately, the truth must be said that even if he borrowed the money with the intention of paying it back, he is still blamed for it. Dovid Hamelech writes in Tehillim (37-21) “Loive rasha v’lo isalem”, a person who borrows money and doesn’t pay it back is called a rasha. A person who borrows money from someone else essentially took money from him, (willingly, but on the condition that he will pay it back) and if he doesn’t pay it back, he is considered a thief. The posuk does not differentiate whether the person has good intentions of repaying the loan or not. While it is definitely worse if the person borrowed the money without the intention of repaying it, then he a thief and a liar, nevertheless if he doesn’t repay the loans he stole.

I once heard a very scary shmuess from Rav Aryeh Finkel zt”l on this topic in the Mirrer Yeshiva, which left a strong impression on me. He said (and it could be that he brought from others) that “Loive rasha v’lo isalem” means that even at the time that he borrowed the money he is already a rasha. But why? He is poor and he doesn’t have the money to pay it back? He said the reason is because, very often, deep down, when he borrowed the money didn’t feel a real obligation to pay back the money. If he would have felt feel a real obligation to pay it back no matter what, he would find the way to pay it back, slowly, while doing everything in his power to make sure that it gets paid back.

Additionally, if he does whatever he can to pay back, he will have siyata dishmaya to finish paying back his loans. The above posuk reads “Loive rasha v’lo isalem, v’tzadik chonen vnosain”. The Mishna (Avos 2-9) says that a person that doesn’t pay back his loan causes that Hashem (who is called tzadiko shel olam) to repay the loan for him, (and the person then owes the money to Hashem). Meaning that when a person borrows money, in a way, Hashem is the cosigner on the loan. If Hashem sees that the borrower is trying his best to repay the loan, He will help him be successful at it and he will manage to repay all of his loans.

Mat Hashem help us all that we should have the need to take any loans, as we say in birkas hamazon “Lo l’ydei matnas basar v’dom, v’lo l’ydei halva’asom, ki im l’yadcha”, that we shouldn’t need any loans rather Hashem should get our needs directly from Hashem.

Best wishes

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