Insights into Halacha

For the week ending 4 September 2021 / 27 Elul 5781

Shemittas Kesafim and the Prozbol

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
Library Library Library

A story is told of an American bochur who came to learn in Eretz Yisrael for Elul Zman in a year that parallels our own; entering a Shemitta year.[1] Armed with several shiurim on the importance and strictures of proper Shemitta adherence under his belt, this intrepid student set out to get an early start on buying his Arba Minim for Sukkos. Entering a shop, he asked the proprietor if the Esrogim he was selling were from Shemitta produce.

When the owner responded in the negative, the stalwart student asked if he had any documentation attesting to his claim. Again the owner responded in the negative. “Well then,” replied the bewildered bochur, “why should I trust you”? Patiently, the proprietor replied, “because Rosh Hashana is next week. Shemitta hasn’t yet started!”

Whether or not the story is true is irrelevant; what is important is the point it illustrates - that there is much confusion as to what constitutes proper Shemitta observance. And this does not hold true exclusively regarding Esrogim, but many other aspects of the Mitzvos of Shemitta as well.

Indeed, we find that in his renowned Sefer of Halachos, the Ben Ish Chai uncharacteristically relates a tale – of a certain Talmud Chacham at the Pesach Seder, who exhorted his son during Korech, to not only perform the ‘Zeicher L’Mikdash K’Hillel’ of Korech, but to also make sure to perform an additional important Takkana of Hillel Hazakein’s – that of the Prozbol before Rosh Hashanah of the eighth year.[2] Perhaps apocryphal, possibly anecdotal, yet all the same, the story has considerable ramifications for us all. But first, some background is in order.

Shnei Shmittos

The Torah enumerates the importance of observing Shemitta, not working the land on the seventh year, several times, stressing its significance. That there are agricultural prohibitions and produce restrictions (addressed at length in several previous articles) in letting the land lie fallow is known to most. Yet, there is another imperative aspect of Shemitta observance - the cancelling of debts.

The Torah states:[3] “And this is the matter of Shemitta: every creditor that lends to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not demand payment of debts from his neighbor or brother.”[4] This teaches that all loans between Jews are cancelled by the Torah; meaning that the lender may not collect what was owed to him. This is known as Shmittas Kesafim.

Yet, there is another pasuk regarding this issue,[5] which adds another dimension to this rule: “Guard yourself, lest there be in your heart a lawless thought, thinking that the seventh year, the year of Shemitta, is approaching, and you look selfishly upon your needy brother and do not lend him anything, and he cries out to Hashem against you, and it is considered a sin on your part”. This teaches us that one transgresses a prohibition if he refuses lending to a fellow Jew before Shemitta due to fear of his debts being cancelled.

Enter… The Prozbol

Yet, unfortunately history has proven that that is exactly what happened. The wealthy refused to loan to their poorer brethren out of fear of not recouping their cash. The Mishnah[6] teaches us that Hillel Hazakein instituted the device of Prozbol (or Pruzbol) to alleviate the plight of the poor on Shemitta. Quite interestingly, and not even remotely connected to the similar sounding All-Star Football game or even the popular singer, Prozbol is an abbreviation of the words ProzBoliBoti - meaning ‘institution for rich and poor’ people. In other words, it allowed the poor to benefit from loans from the wealthy, who would not be afraid that their loans would be automatically cancelled in the Shemitta year.

The Prozbol entails handing one’s debts over to Beis Din, or appointing Beis Din to collect on his behalf.[7] The actual Shemitta prohibition is that a lender may not pressure a borrower to pay him back. This, however, does not preclude Beis Din from being able to collect on one’s behalf. Hillel’s institution of Prozbol is considered so incredible that the Mishnah literally describes it as a ‘Tikkun HaOlam’ (loosely translated as ‘World Saving’).

Bezman Hazeh

There is some debate among the authorities whether Shmittas Kesafim nowadays is Biblical in nature or not. Although the Ramban and Baal HaItur maintain that in this day and age it is still a Mitzvah D’Oraysa, we find at the other extreme that the Rema cites several Rishonim who are of the opinion that this Mitzvah is currently not applicable at all.[8]

However, the vast majority of poskim rule that in our time it is nevertheless a Mitzvah Derabbanan.[9] Moreover, and as opposed to Shemittas Karka’os, the Shemitta of the Land (the requirement of letting the land lie fallow), regarding this Shemittas Kesafim, the halachic consensus is that it applies equally in Chutz La’aretz.

This is indeed the halacha pesuka. The Tur relates that his father, the Rosh, took great umbrage and “screamed” at those who did business as usual without writing a Prozbol. In fact, many later authorities, including the Levush, the Bach, Rav Yonason Eibeshutz, the Shulchan Aruch Harav, the Chasam Sofer, the Shlah, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Ben Ish Chai, and the Aruch Hashulchan,[10] all stressed Shmittas Kesafim’s significance and application even nowadays and in Chutz La’aretz, as well as the importance of making sure to write a Prozbol.

Pre or Post Prozbol?

Another important matter is defining when the Prozbol should be written, prior to the onset of the Shemitta year, or at its close, shortly before the Shemitta year ends. The Torah clues us in. Regarding the issue of Shmittas Kesafim it states: “Mikeitz Sheva Shanim Taaseh Shemitta - At the end of every seven years, you should make a release.” The Gemara (Erechin 28b) explains that this is referring to the end of Shemitta.

The Sifri [11] elucidates that this is similar to the Mitzvah of Hakhel, where similar wording is used - and is exclusively observed at the end of every Shemitta cycle – meaning the beginning of the eighth year. So too, concludes the Sifri, Shmittas Kesafim only wipes out loans at the end of the Shemitta year. Therefore, a Prozbol must be written at the conclusion of the Shemitta year, prior to the onset of the eighth year. This is the actual halacha.[12] In fact, the Beis Yosef writes that “this is the minhag pashut in Eretz Yisrael and its environs, to write a Prozbol on Erev Rosh Hashana of Motzai Sheviis”.

Tale of Two Prozbols?

Yet, we find that the Rosh,[13] quoting a Tosefta, maintains that a Prozbol should be written before the Shemitta year, not at the end. He explains that although Shmittas Kesafim only takes effect at the end of the Shemitta year, nevertheless the prohibition of ‘lo yigos,’ not demanding back during Shemitta money that was previously lent out, already applies from the start of the Shemitta year. Therefore, he maintains that a Prozbol should be written prior to the onset of Shemitta. Several Rishonim agreed with this approach. However, it has since been proven that the version of the Tosefta the Rosh quoted had textual mistakes (incorrect girsa). Additionally, most authorities reject this novel approach outright, averring that it is not normative halacha.[14]

On the other hand, several authorities, including Rav Yonason Eibeshutz and the Shulchan Aruch Harav,[15] argued that lechatchilla one should take the Rosh’s opinion into account and hence write a Prozbol before the onset of Shemitta as well. It is said that the Vilna Gaon was machmir to write two Prozbols, one before and again at the end of the Shemitta year, to fulfill both opinions.[16] Although not the basic halacha, and many great authorities did not write a Prozbol before Shemitta,[17] on the other hand, it is known that Rav Shmuel Salant zt”l, Av Beis Din of Yerushalayim in the end of the nineteenth century, ruled that it is proper to do so, as later did the Steipler Gaon zt”l and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l.[18]

That is why many were makpid to write an additional Prozbol before the onset of Shemitta. However, practically, regarding this Prozbol, the rules are somewhat relaxed. In fact, according to Rav Moshe Sternbuch,[19] since this Pre-Shemitta Prozbol is not me’ikar hadin, one need not bother to seek out an actual Beis Din, or even members of a Beis Din, but may suffice with three fellow knowledgeable Yidden serving as an ad hoc Beis Din, similar to the annual Erev Rosh Hashanah Hataras Nedarim.[20]

Either way, whether or not one performed the chumrah of a pre-Shemitta Prozbol, everyone should ensure that they follow the actual halacha to write an end-of-Shemitta Prozbol, as the Talmud Chacham in the Ben Ish Chai’s story exhorted his son.

Indeed, the Ben Ish Chai advocates for after writing a Prozbol, lending a small token sum to someone in order to tell him when he comes to pay it back after Rosh Hashanah that the loan is cancelled.[21] This is an ingenious way of being mekayem the Takkanas Hillel of Prozbol and still fulfilling the Torah’s command of ‘Shmote’ (to absolve a debt) and actively letting Shmittah erase a debt.

To sum it up, a little Prozbol can alleviate a lot of future complications.[22]

This article was written L’iluy Nishmas the Ohr Somayach Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R’ Yechezkel Shraga and l’zechus Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua sheleimah teikef umiyad!

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author:

Rabbi Yehuda Spitz, author ofM’Shulchan Yehuda on Inyanei Halacha, serves as the Sho’el U’Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim.

His first English halacha sefer, “Insights Into Halacha: Food: A Halachic Analysis,” focusing on the myriad halachos related to food, is now available in Jewish bookstores worldwide and online.

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[1] As heard from Rabbi Moshe Pindrus, R”M in Yeshivas Ohr Somayach.

[2] Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parashas Ki Savo 26 s.v. prozbol).

[3] Parashas Re’eh (Devarim Ch. 15:2).

[4] In fact, the Gemara (Gittin 36a) derives from the double language of the word Shemitta in this pasuk, that there are two types of Shmitta: Shmittas Karkah and Shmittas Kesafim. See also Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 84 and 477) who explains that a focal point of both ‘types’ of Shemitta is to teach us ‘vatranus’ (willingness to concede) and to demonstrate how to properly care about others’ needs. The Rambam (Hilchos Shmitta V’Yovel Ch. 8: 1) writes that from the fact the Torah used the word ‘Shmote’ (which is a command) to describe this occurrence (of absolving a debt), it is an actual Mitzvah D’Oraysa incumbent upon us to actively let Shmitta erase a debt. However, the Sefer Yereim (278) maintains a different understanding inShemittas Kesafim. He explains that Shemitta does not actively erase a debt, but rather ‘yanuach, lets lie,’ meaning that the lender cannot demand it back, but it does not actually forgive the loan. He concludes that if the borrower uses Shemitta as an excuse to never pay back the loan, he is deemed a ‘Rasha’. [Thanks are due to Leon Metzger for pointing out this important source.] Although this is not the normative halachah, nevertheless, Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 10,Mishnah 9) concludes with praise for one who anyway pays back his debt: ‘hamachzir chov b’Sheviis ruach chachamim nocheh heimenu’.

[5] Parashas Re’eh (ad loc. Ch. 15: 9).

[6] Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 10: 3 and 4) and Gittin (34b) and accompanying Gemara (36a-b) and commentaries.

[7] There is some debate among the Rishonim whether writing a Prozbol and Mesiros Shtaros L’Beis Din are considered the same institution or not. See Tosafos (Gittin 36a s.v. mi and Makkos 3b s.v. hamoser), Ritva (ad loc.), Meiri (Gittin 37a), Rambam (Hilchos Shemittav V’Yovel Ch. 9: 15), Sefer Haterumah (Shaar 45, 11), Yam Shel Shlomo (Gittin Ch. 4: 45), and Minchas Chinuch (Parashas Re’eh Mitzva 477: 12). Either way, both are practically effective methods of not having debts cancelled by Shmitta [see Mishnayos Sheviis (ibid.), Rambam (ibid. 15 and 16), and Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67: 11, 18, and 19).

[8] See Rema (Choshen Mishpat 67: 1, and in Darchei Moshe ad loc. 1), Beis Yosef (ad loc. s.v. v’hashmatas), Biur HaGr”a (ad loc. 5), SM”A (ad loc. 3), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 1), and Shu”t Igros Moshe (Choshen Mishpat vol. 2: 15 s.v. uv’etzem). The Rishonim who held this way include the Baal HaMaor, Maharil, Maharik, Terumas Hadeshen, and the Raavad. Although not the practical halacha, this nonetheless does make a practical halachic difference - there are those who hold [see, for example Shulchan Aruch Harav (Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos Halva’ah 35); see also Shu”t Hisorerus Teshuva (vol. 3: 23, 2; new print Choshen Mishpat 13: 1) and Shu”t Minchas Yitzchok (vol. 10: 140)] that nowadays a Prozbul does not need a genuine actual set Beis Din, nor the applicant to actually own karka, as opposed to the strict letter of the law in the Mishnah (Sheviis Ch. 10), and later the Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta V’Yovel Ch. 9) and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67). [Actually, the clause of owning karka is anyway not exact, as the Shulchan Aruch himself (ad loc. 23; see also Pischei Teshuva ad loc. 4, citing the Chasam Sofer, Shu”t vol. 5 - Choshen Mishpat 50) qualifies that renters or even anyone who has permission to live somewhere, are considered as ‘owning karka’ for this purpose. Rav Yaakov Hillel (Luach Ahavat Shalom(5776; pg. 12, note 93) adds that this category would certainly include Yeshiva Bochurim; since they have permission to eat, sleep, learn and generally occupy space in their Yeshiva, they can and will need to each write their own Prozbol.] See also footnote 20.

[9] This is due to the fact that we no longer have Yovelos. Therefore Shmittas Kesafim is no longer D’Oraysa, but rather Derabbanan. See the main commentaries to Gittin (36-37) - Rashi, Tosafos, Rif, Ran, and Rosh, SMaG (Lavin 270), Sefer Hachinuch (Parashas Re’eh, end Mitzvah 477), Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67: 1), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ibid. 34), Pe’as HaShulchan (Ch. 29: 3), Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat 67: 1), and Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parashas Ki Savo 26). See also Rambam (Hilchos Shmitta V’Yovel Ch. 8: 1-3) who writes that although it is an actual Mitzvah D’Oraysa to actively let Shmitta erase a debt, he nonetheless concludes that nowadays with Yovel currently non-applicable, this Mitzva Chiyuvis is strictly Derabbanan. The Rambam adds a very important point (ad loc. 16), based on Abaye’s conclusion in Gemara Gittin 36a, that the whole reason a Prozbol works is because Shemitta nowadays is Derabbanan. When Shmitta’s status reverts to a D’Oraysa obligation, he avers that a Prozbol will not help one to collect his loans.

[10] Levush (Choshen Mishpat 67: 1), Bach (ad loc. 6), Urim V’Tumim (67, Tumim, 1), Shulchan Aruch Harav (Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos Halva’ah 35), Shu”t Chasam Sofer (vol. 5, Choshen Mishpat, beg. 113 s.v. kibalti), Shlah (Shaar Ha’osiyos, Kedushas Ha’achilah), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (180: 1), Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parashas Ki Savo 26 s.v. prozbol), and Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat 67: end 1 and end 10). See also Elef HaMagen (on the Matteh Efraim, 581: 133).

[11] Sifri (Devarim, Re’eh,Piska 58 pg. 122b), cited by the Bach (Choshen Mishpat 67: end 4). The Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta V’Yovel Ch. 9: 4) gives the same explanation. For more on this drush, see the commentaries of the Malbim and Netziv on the Sifri, and Shu”t Shoel U’Meishiv (Mahadura Rivi’ai vol. 1: 10).

[12] See Rambam (ibid.), Ramban (Teshuvos 98), Rashba (Shu”t vol. 2: 314), Ohr Zarua (Avoda Zara vol. 1: 107), Sefer Hachinuch (ibid. s.v. m’dinei), Shu”t Radbaz (vol. 5: 2238), Beis Yosef (Choshen Mishpat 67: 32), Shulchan Aruch (ad loc. 30), Shu”t Chasam Sofer (vol. 2, Yoreh Deah 19 and vol. 5, Choshen Mishpat 50 s.v. nachzor; cited by Pischei Teshuva ad loc. 5), Shu”t Shoel U’Meishiv (Mahadura Rivi’ai, vol. 2: 53), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (180: 13), Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat 67: 2), and Shu”t Rav Pe’alim (vol. 1, Kuntress Sod Yesharim 11).

[13] Rosh (Gittin Ch. 4: 18 and 20) citing the Tosefta (Sheviis Ch. 8: 11). The Baal HaItur (OsPei, Pruzbol pg. 76c), and Tur (Choshen Mishpat 67: 30) hold this way as well. Rabbeinu Chananel (Shabbos 148b) heavily implies that he is of the opinion that the beginning of Shemitta cancels debts. [Thanks are due to Rabbi Yehoshua Pasternak for pointing out this important source.] The Yerushalmi (Rosh Hashanah Ch. 3, end Halacha 5), according to statement of Rabbi Yochanon, implies this way as well, regarding the Shmittas Kesafim of Yovel. See also Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Shemittas Kesafim U’Prozbol Ch. 15 pg. 101 - 102, footnote 3) who adds that Rabbeinu Yerucham, Rabbeinu Nasan Av HaYeshiva, the Mahar”i ben MalkiTzedek, and the Kaftor VaFerach all held akin to the Rosh’s shittah, that the issur of ‘lo yigos’, not demanding the lent money during Shemitta, already applies from the start of the Shemitta year, and therefore a Prozbol should already be written prior to the onset of the Shemitta year. This is also the explanation of the Minchas Bikkurim on that Tosefta.

[14] The Ramban (Teshuvos 98), cited by the Beis Yosef (ibid.), proves that the Rosh and Baal HaItur had an incorrect girsa in the Tosefta. Similarly, see Haghos HaGr”a on that Tosefta (Sheviis Ch. 8: 11, 3) who amends the Tosefta’s text to read that the proper time to write a Prozbol is on Erev Rosh Hashana of Motzai Sheviis; and not Erev Rosh Hashana of Sheviis. See also Ketzos Hachoshen (67: 1) who maintains that if the Rosh’s shittah holds true, then there is an apparent stirah in his shittah here and Shu”t HaRosh (77: 4); the Ketzos concludes that the Rosh’s opinion is ‘tzarich iyun’. Also, the Pe’as Hashulchan (Ch. 29: 96) vigorously argues on Rav Yonason Eibeshutz’s proofs that the Rosh is correct (see next footnote). Interestingly, the Bach (ibid. 32) and the Radbaz (ibid.) maintain that there really is no machlokes between the approaches of the Rosh and the Rambam. However, it seems that most authorities do not concur. See also Shu”t Chasam Sofer (vol. 5, Choshen Mishpat 50) at length. Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, in his Chazon Yechezkel on the Tosefta (Sheviis Ch. 8: 11, Biurim 11), after citing the shittah of the Rosh, cites the Ramban and Gr”a’s amending of the Tosefta to read ‘Erev Rosh Hashana of Motzai Sheviis’, and concludes simply “v’chen anu nohagim”.

[15] Urim V’Tumim (67: Urim 54 and Tumim 26; ‘hayarei v’chareid yesh lehachmir la’asos pruzbol b’erev Sheviis’) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos Halva’ah 36). The Mahari Assad (Shu”t Yehuda Yaaleh vol. 2: 179), the Misgeres Hashulchan (on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 180: 9), and Chasdei Dovid (on Tosefta, Sheviis Ch. 8: 11) wrote similarly, to be makpid for the shittah of the Rosh. The Pischei Teshuva (Choshen Mishpat 67: 5) implies that although not the normative halacha, it would nonetheless be preferable to be choshesh for this shittah.

[16] The Vilna Gaon being machmir for both opinions is cited in his talmid’s Pe’as Hashulchan (ibid. 97), Rav Moshe Sternbuch’s Shemitta Kehilchasa (Prozbol Erev Shnas HaSheviis s.v. uva’ikar), and Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Shemittas Kesafim U’Prozbol Ch. 15, pg. 102 - 103).

[17] See, for example, Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s Derech Emunah (vol. 4, Hilchos Shemitta V’Yovel, Ch. 9: 80) and Orchos Rabbeinu (new edition, vol. 3, Prozbol, pg. 349: 21), who relate that the Chazon Ish did not write a Pruzbol before Shemitta. See also Shu”t Chelkas Yaakov (vol. 3: 143), Shu”t Divrei Yisrael (vol. 2: 41), Shu”t Kinyan Torah B’Halacha (vol. 3: 15), Shu”t Lechem Shlomo (Choshen Mishpat 17), Miktzoa L’Torah (Choshen Mishpat 67: 15), and Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Shemittas Kesafim U’Prozbol Ch. 15, pg. 101 and 104), citing the Klausenberger Rebbe, the Tzehlemer Rav, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, and the Minchas Yitzchak.

[18] Aderes Shmuel (Piskei Rav Shmuel Salant zt”l; Hilchos Sheviis, Pruzbol, 420, pg. 428 - 429), Orchos Rabbeinu (vol. 2, 378; to have an additional zechus for Rosh Hashana), and Netei Gavriel (ibid. pg. 105), citing that Rav Elyashiv zt”l told him that “although me’ikar hadin one does not need a Prozbul before the Shmitta year, nevertheless ‘Yakirei Yerushalayim Mehadrim B’zeh’, as this was the custom of Rav Shmuel Salant”. This author has also heard this psak from Rav Elyashiv’s noted talmid, Rav Nochum Eisenstein.

[19]Shemitta Kehilchasa (Prozbol Erev Shnas HaSheviis s.v. ula”d). Similarly, since the pre-Shemitta Prozbol, is essentially considered a chumrah, the Steipler Gaon once did it with only two ‘dayanim’; seemingly not the normative halacha. See Orchos Rabbeinu (new edition, vol. 3, Prozbol, pg. 336 - 337: 4).

[20]Addressing the halachically mandated end-of-Shemitta Prozbol, the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 67: 18) rules like the Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta V’Yovel Ch. 9: 17), and Rabbeinu Tam (Tosafos Gittin 36b s.v. d’ilimi), that it needs to be performed with a ‘Beis Din Chashuv’. On the other hand, the Rema (ad loc.) rules like the Rosh (Gittin Ch. 4: 13), Tur (Choshen Mishpat 67: 18), Sefer HaTerumah (Shaar 45: 16), and Rashba (Shu”t vol. 3: 33), and counters that nowadays any Beis Din will suffice. The Bach (ad loc. 21 s.v. ul’inyan) concludes that the halacha here indeed follows the Rema. As mentioned previously, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos Halva’ah 35), Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat 67: 10) and others maintain that nowadays a Prozbul does not need a genuine actual set Beis Din, as there are opinions in the Rishonim that it does not apply at all nowadays. See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (180: 15) who writes simply that ‘three Bnei Torah may serve as the Beis Din’. On the other hand, we find that the Chochmas Adam (Shaarei Tzedek 21: 4) and Chasam Sofer (Shu”t Choshen Mishpat 113) were nevertheless makpid lechatchillah to write the Prozbol in a Beis Din Chashuv. Come what may, it is known that the Chazon Ish was very makpid that his Prozbol be presented by a ‘Beis Din Chashuv’, and used to send his Prozbol to the Badatz Eidah Chareidis in Yerushalayim. Later on, toward the end of his life, he would send it to the much younger Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner and his Beis Din, as he was the official Av Beis Din of the Zichron Meir neighborhood in Bnei Brak [see Orchos Rabbeinu (vol. 2, pg. 379; new edition vol. 3, Prozbol, pg. 349 - 353) and Derech Emunah (vol. 4, Hilchos Shemitta V’Yovel Ch. 9: 88 and Tziyun Hahalacha 209)]. Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (cited in Shu”t Yissa Yosef vol. 5 - Sheviis, pg. 251) would also lechatchillah attempt the same, to write his Prozbol with a ‘Beis Din Chashuv’. In contrast to this, from numerous examples (and actual Prozbolim) cited in Orchos Rabbeinu above, it is clear that the Steipler Gaon was not makpid to seek out a ‘Beis Din Chashuv’. Similarly, it is reported that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo, Sheviis pg. 297) was likewise not makpid for his Prozbol to be written by such a Beis Din. Lemaaseh, nowadays, although not obligatory, nevertheless, it seems that there is a preference, if possible, to perform the Prozbol using an actual set ‘Beis Din Chashuv’, like the Shulchan Aruch’s psak. However, several contemporary Sefardic authorities maintain that Sefardim, who follow the Shulchan Aruch’s rulings, should most definitely seek out a ‘Beis Din Chashuv’ for their Prozbolim. See Shu”t HaMabit (vol. 2: end 81; who invalidated several Prozbolim not written via ‘Beis Din Chashuv’), Mizbach Adamah (Yoreh Deah, end 391), Ohr L’Tzion (Sheviis, Ch. 7: 3), Chazon Ovadiah (Prozbol, 2), Rav Yaakov Hillel’s Luach Ahavat Shalom (5776; pg. 12 - 13, note 94), and Yalkut Yosef (Sheviis, Ch. 24: 23). However, Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Chazon Ovadiah ad loc. pg. 20: 4) qualifies that even for Sefardim, if the Prozbol was not presented by a ‘Beis Din Chashuv’, it still works b’dieved.

[21] Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parashas Ki Savo 26 s.v. v’hinei).

[22] Quite interestingly, see Shu”t Igros Moshe (Choshen Mishpat vol. 2: 15) who maintains that nowadays, if one forgot to write a Prozbol, it is possible that he may still be able to collect the debt, as although we hold that one should write a Prozbol, perhaps one can still be somech on the ikar din of the Rema, quoting many Rishonim (‘minhag doros Hakadmonim b’Ashkenaz uv’Sfard’) who did not write Prozbolim. Additionally, as the Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat 67: 10) mentions, our Batei Dinim are subservient to the court system and cannot actually legally obligate or exempt someone from paying a debt. Therefore maintains Rav Moshe, and especially as it is written in Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 10,Mishnah 9), ‘hamachzir chov b’Sheviis ruach chachamim nocheh heimenu,’ nowadays, if one forgot to write a Prozbol and is now strapped for cash, he may still ask for his money he lent back. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shu”t Minchas Shlomo, Tinyana 123: 12, 2) seems to agree with this assessment in specific circumstances as well. See also Minchas Asher (Sheviis, Tinyana 54 and 55), who addresses this topic regarding Baalei Teshuva.


Rabbi Yehuda Spitz's recent extensive English halacha sefer,
Food: A Halachic Analysis,” (Mosaica/Feldheim)
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Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.

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