Halva'a Le'or Halacha

by Rabbi Shimon Malka

Reviewed by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Hebrew Text

Even before the use of computers became widespread, our generation was called a generation of anthologists. Certainly in our times when the work of anthologizing is becoming easier and easier. At the same time, the ability to think and to make broad and creative insights in halachic decision-making declines steadily.

Halva'a Le'or Hahalacha is a response to these deficiencies, both in terms of halacha, where the subjects presented are new and contemporary, and also in terms of the flow of logic to the halachic conclusion, which is accomplished by in depth analysis of the halachic foundations, beginning with the gemora and the Rishonim, and ending with the Shulchan Oruch and the Acharonim. In the original sources, many of the subjects are scattered over the vast sea of the Talmud. This sefer brings them all together in one place and shows their correlation with each other.

The sefer presents the mitzvah of giving a loan to a poor person, which is a positive commandment from the Torah. Who is included in the category of those designated "poor," at what point a person who refuses to give a loan is guilty of transgressing this commandment; what happens if the person asking for a loan is not trustworthy, what should one do in the case where the would-be borrower refrains from asking for a loan because he is unable to meet the lender's criteria; and numerous other halachic details are covered.

The second chapter moves into what happens when the lender has no ma'aser money available at the moment, but he gives from his own money on the condition that when he will earn more money he will tithe ma'aser from it and repay himself. It is essential to know exactly how to do this. Also how to cover, from ma'aser money, the debt of a yeshiva or a man who has nothing with which to repay a loan.

The third-chapter explains the order of priority which should be followed when giving a loan.

The next chapter discusses to what extent, i.e. what percentage of liquid assets, a person is obligated to give to fulfill the mitzvah of giving a loan. Also explained is how ma'aser money may be used to set up a free loan fund (gemach).

The fifth chapter of the sefer is a compilation of numerous little-known facts about what is actually meant by the term neder. An example of this is the promise to give a loan, the payment of a neder at a certain time, or the fulfillment of a neder by inheritors, in the case where it was the person who bequeathed them the money who made a neder.

The sefer continues with a chapter devoted entirely to the laws of running a gemach. Typical of the questions addressed are: Does the money in a gemach have a status similar to that of tzedaka or is it considered private money? What are the ramifications of the answer to this question? How and in what way is the person running the gemach responsible for the gemach's money? What is the best way to run a gemach?

The seventh chapter of the sefer delves into the subject of shtarot. The halachos discussed are: the parameters of the prohibition, both for the lender and borrower, of giving a loan without witnesses; what happens when the lender reneges on his promise to give a loan in terms of his responsibility for any damages caused; whether or not the halachic status of a check is the same as that of cash, and the potential problems arising from this. Many other issues and problems involving checks are raised and discussed.

Not only does the borrower have obligations - such as the mitzvah of repaying a debt, in addition to fulfilling the mitzvah of repaying a loan - but the lender has obligations as well. For example, it is prohibited for the lender to demand repayment when the borrower has nothing with which to repay. Does this prohibition apply only in beis din, or in general? Is this prohibition only on the lender who directly demands repayment from the borrower, or also on anyone who asks him to repay? If the lender is able to demand die money indirectly, or by deducting the sum from the borrower's wages - does the borrower have the obligation to work to repay his debt? Can a lender force him to go to work to repay the loan? The general subject of the eighth chapter of the sefer, as evidenced by these questions, deals with defining the parameters under which the borrower is obligated to repay the loan. What happens when he owns property? Or when he has property listed under his wife's name? At what point does he actually become obligated to repay the loan?

The sefer is written and organized in such a way that each and every person, from the most earned scholars, to poskim, to the average householder can benefit. The halacha is written on the upper part of each page, in lucid, easy-to-understand language, while the bottom part of the page gives the halachic sources and a detailed discussion of what led the author to his halachic conclusions.

In Eretz Yisroel the sefer has been received enthusiastically by gedolim, including HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and HaRav Wosner. Many others, including Admorim and rabbis in the BaDaTz; as well as talmidei chachamim and avreichim, public figures, house-holders and building contractors, all have found it useful.

The author learns at the Yad Harav Hisim Kolel in Jerusalem. To order a copy of the book, please write to the gabbai. Cost of the book is $20 plus postage.