[Avodah] Do I need to make sure to write a Pruzbul before Rosh Hashanah?

Prof. L. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Mon Aug 16 05:52:25 PDT 2021

>From today's OU Halacha Yomis

Q. The Shemitah year will begin on Rosh Hashanah. Do I need to make sure to write a Pruzbul before Rosh Hashanah?

A. Aside from the agricultural laws of Shemitah, the Torah also commands us not to collect loans after Shemitah, as it is stated in (Devarim 15:1-2): “At the end of seven years you shall observe Shemitah…every creditor should release his authority over what he lent his friend.” The great Jewish leader Hillel saw that as the Shemitah approached, individuals were wary to lend money to the poor out of fear that their loans would become uncollectible. He instituted the pruzbul as a permissible means of collecting these loans. A “pruzbul” is a signed contract that empowers beis din (a Jewish court) to collect all outstanding loans on behalf of the lender. (Shemitah only impacts individuals and not Rabbinic courts.) To be effective, the pruzbul must be written before the loans are canceled. There is a disagreement among the Rishonim when the pruzbul must be written. Most Rishonim understand that the loan is cancelled at the end of the Shemitah year, and pruzbul can be executed any time before that. However, the Rosh (Gittin 4:18) writes that although the loan is not fully canceled until the end of Shemitah, the lender may not ask for his loan to be repaid once the Shemitah year begins. According to Rosh, the pruzbul for this cycle must be written before the beginning of Rosh Hashana 2021. Most Poskim do not follow the ruling of the Rosh and allow a pruzbul to be written until the end of the Shemitah year, which for this year will be until Rosh Hashana 2022. This is the ruling of Shulchan Aruch (CM 67:30-31) as well. There are some who wish to be machmir and will execute a pruzbul before this Rosh Hashanah (2021) in deference of the position of the Rosh, and will then execute a second pruzbal for loans made during the shemitah year, in accordance with the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch.

This link provides the text of a pruzbul.

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