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22Aug2014

Saving the heart

With the end of the month of Elul comes the completion of the sixth year of the seven-year cycle, and the beginning of the year of shemitah. Aside from the prohibition against working the land of Israel for the entire seventh year, the Torah establishes the forgiveness of loans contracted during the six preceding years, if they have not yet been returned. The purpose of this law is to help those poor who have failed to honor their commitments but also to redress social balance. Anyone who was able to give a loan to others who had fallen into poverty must also find the strength to definitively relinquish the money for the needy. However, knowing the human heart, not always generous, the Torah says: “Beware of having a base thought in your heart that leads you to say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and you become tightfisted towards your brother and give him nothing, so that he cries to the Lord against you, and it will be considered a sin for you "(Deut. 15,9). The ideal is one thing, but reality quite another. Hillel – the rabbi ready to find more realistic interpretation of a rule, and realizing that in fact what the Torah feared actually occurred and that with the approach of the seventh year people no longer lent money – revived an ancient rule that makes it possible to circumvent this commandment. After the destruction of the Temple, shemitah had become a norm whose application was no longer dictated by the Torah, but only by a decision of the rabbis. After the sixth year, the collection of loans is thus permitted if the lender makes a declaration before the judges transferring the debt to the Court. And thus the prosbol was born. The prohibition could be avoided with this declaration, while "keeping alive" the original provision. Now this seems like a ploy by Hillel to prevent the application of the rule. In reality, by effectively allowing the loan, Hillel achieves two objectives:

• the needy will still have access to loans and repaying it nor not will depend only on the conscience of the borrower

• by annulling a mitzvah established by the rabbis (continuing shemitah even after the destruction of the Temple), the mitzvah of helping the needy established by the Torah is put into practice By doing so, Hillel saved the heart of the people, forever.

Scialom Bahbout

Scritto da Redazione, Pubblicato in Notizie