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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Negative Mitzvah 235

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Negative Mitzvah 235: It is forbidden to demand interest on a loan
Leviticus 25:37 "You shall not give him your money for interest, nor may you give him your food for increase"

Rachel and Avi were given spending money by their father when they went to visit the "Educational Toy Fair."

After looking at the exhibits, Rachel found something she wanted to buy. It was a "do-it-yourself kit" for creating attractive greeting cards.

Excitedly, Rachel took out her wallet, but to her dismay she found that she was a dollar short.

"Please, Avi," she said to her brother, "lend me a dollar. I want to get this kit. I'll return the dollar to you next time we get an allowance."

Avi thought for a moment. He realized that even if he lent the money to his sister, he would still be able to buy something for himself. He gave his sister the dollar that she requested.

"Thanks a lot," Rachel exclaimed and went to purchase the kit.

Immediately afterwards they heard an announcement on the loudspeaker: "Attention visitors. We have a special offer.

Come and check out our super discount-table. Buy any two games and get one free! Hurry - limited supply..."

Avi and Rachel went to the discount table. There were so many games, that at first he couldn't decide what to get!

Finally, he chose three games and went to pay. But as Avi stood on line counting his money, he realized that he did not have enough.

"Oh no!", he groaned. "I only have enough for one game. Now I'll lose the free game!" He turned to his sister, and said: "Rachel, I'm not sorry I lent you the money. I'm glad you bought what you wanted and I know you'll pay me back, but since I only have enough for one game now, I feel that you should pay me more than a dollar! I could have had three games if I had that money, so actually you owe me one dollar - plus more to make up for my loss!"

While Avi was being generous with his money, the Torah prohibits him from demanding more than one dollar from Rachel.

He is not allowed to ask for more than he lent. The extra money he expects for his "kind service" and "loss" is similar to taking interest on a loan.

Interest is collecting more money that you lent.

A borrower may feel he has no choice but to agree to the lender's conditions because he needs the money. We are forbidden to demand interest on loans.

The order of your day is crucial. It must start with vision and only then gradually immerse into the world. Begin with learning that inspires, with meditation and prayer. Then go on to study of Torah that deals with worldly matters. And then you may plunge ahead into the darkness, full of light with which to illuminate it.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman -

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