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Q & A: Elul – The Gateway To The Days Of Awe (Part II)

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Now if, as we noted last week, G-d gives a mortal the possibility of being just like Him and acting in His stead, then anyone who is cognizant of the high standing in which He holds us should naturally wish to emulate all His ways. Thus, acting lifnim mishurat ha’din – going beyond the letter of the law – should be no different than breathing the air that keeps us alive.

Lifnim mishurat ha’din can refer to laws regarding intrapersonal human relationships as well as laws that only apply between man and G-d (bein adam laMakom). Concerning the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 603:1) writes that someone who is not scrupulous to avoid pat akum (bread baked by a gentile, which our Sages prohibited), should be careful to do so during this time period. Pat akum is a law that has obviously been neglected over time due to great difficulties, but we are enjoined during this special period of the Jewish calendar to go act lifnim mishurat ha’din and make every effort to abstain from pat akum.

Going above and beyond the letter of the law is obviously indicative of our relationship with G-d at this unique time when we beseech Him to treat us in such a manner as well (forgiving and awarding us beyond what strict justice might call for). Let us hope and pray, especially in these trying times for our people, that just as we act lifnim mishurat ha’din both in relation to Hashem and to our fellow man, He too will look with great favor and mercy upon our repentance and good deeds and inscribe us for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

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