TalmuDigest

For the week ending 27 June 2009 / 4 Tammuz 5769

Bava Metzia 65 - 71

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Charging less if payment is made in advance
  • Down-payment and special loan arrangements
  • When promises of compensation are not binding
  • The concepts of asmachta and kitzuta in business deals
  • Forbidden arrangements between investor and agent
  • Permitted partnerships in animals which can work and multiply
  • Usury in relationship to a non-Jew
  • The danger of usury to economic security
  • Priority in extending loans
  • Limitations on a widow as a hostess or dog owner
  • All the guilty parties in a usury transaction
  • Can a non-Jew serve as an agent

Bridges for the Poor

  • Bava Metzia 70b

What happens to the money one earns in unjust fashion?

The answer has been given by the wisest of men, King Shlomo.

"He who increases his wealth through forbidden usury gathers it for one who will use it to benefit the poor." (Mishlei 28:8)

Although the message is clear that the money one earns in an improper manner will end up benefiting others rather than himself, it is not clear who the actual beneficiaries will be.

The Sage Rav explains that an example of this is the money that the Persian king Shvor Malka took from Jews to support his own people who are called poor because they are devoid of mitzvot.

In his commentary on Mishlei, Rashi quotes the midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma that this is a reference to the illicit money confiscated by the government from Jews and used for building bridges and roads which the poor will use.

Maharsha points out that the mention of bridges fits in with the account (Mesechta Avodah Zarah 2b) of the Persians claiming on Judgment Day that they deserve credit for the Torah study of the Jews because they built bridges that enabled them to travel from place to place.

What the Sages Say

"Whoever lends money on interest will see his fortunes collapse."

  • Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar - Bava Metzia 71a

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