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Section: Halacha   Category: Tzedaka
Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky: Is It Tzedaka When Your Loan Goes Unpaid?
In Parshas Re'eh, in middle of the parsha discussing the Mitzva of Tzedaka, the torah warns us (Re'eh 15:9)  that even when Shmitta is coming, we still must lend money to those who need.  It would be wicked to stop lending just because Shmitta will wipe out the loan.  Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky in Emes L'Yaakov says that we see from here that even giving a loan to a rich person who needs to borrow money is considered Tzedaka.

Therefore, says Rav Yaakov, it seems that if a person who owes you money for a loan goes bankrupt and does not pay, you should be able to subtract this amount from your Ma'aser since initially you gave the money for tzedaka and now you are not getting it back.  Obviously this is only in a case where there was no Heter Iska and no interest was charged.  In that case it is not considered a loan but rather a business partnership (for at least half the amount).  L'halacha, Rav Yaakov says that this needs further clarification.  

It should be noted that Reb Yaakov refused to allow his tshuvos to be published for fear that his words would be misconstrued.  Certainly in this case no halachic decision should be based on his words.  They are brought to raise the question and not to pasken halacha.  The footnote in Emes L'Yaakov brings that the Noda B'Yehuda discusses this shaila (2:196)
 
Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation.  Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.
RELATED ARTICLES:bankruptcy  halacha  loan  ma'aser  Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky  Shmita  tzedaka

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