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Mr. Weil needed to borrow $10,000. He turned to his neighbor, Mr. Goldstein, and asked: “Would you be willing to lend me $10,000 for the year?”

“I’m willing to lend you the money,” replied Mr. Goldstein, “but I require two guarantors to sign on the loan.”


“I hope that I’ll be able to find them,” said Mr. Weil. “I can’t think of anybody offhand who will agree.”

“That’s your issue,” replied Mr. Goldstein, “but I’m not willing to lend without guarantors.”

After discussing the issue with his family, two of Mr. Weil’s brothers overseas finally agreed to serve as guarantors.

“I have two brothers who agreed to serve as guarantors,” Mr. Weil told Mr. Goldstein, “but they live overseas in different countries.”

“That’s no problem,” said Mr. Goldstein. “We can send them the loan contract. They can sign and return it.”

“But if they each need to sign the original loan contract it will take a lot of time,” Mr. Weil said. “I have to send the document to one brother, have him sign and return it, and then send to the other. I desperately need the money next week!”

“If we draft two loan documents,” suggested Mr. Goldstein, “we could send one to each brother simultaneously. That will save time!”

“Do you really expect me to give you two originals?” said Mr. Weil. “You could then collect the money twice!”

“What’s the problem?” said the neighbor. “It’s clear that the two documents refer to the same loan – the names, amount and date of both documents are all the same!”

“Even if the two documents are duplicates,” added Mr. Weil, “you could present them each at different times. It doesn’t seem a good practice to me!”

Mr. Weil decided to consult with Rabbi Dayan, and asked:

“Is it acceptable to make two originals of a loan document?”

“A person should avoid writing duplicate loan documents,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “At the least, it should be clear within the documents that they refer to the same loan.

“The Rishonim derive from the Gemara (B.B. 172a) that if the lender presents two similar loan documents, with the same amount and date, both are independently valid; he can collect doubly from the borrower. This is because we do not expect two documents to be drafted for the same loan, so we presume that the person borrowed twice, or divided the total sum into two separate documents for some reason” (C.M. 104:12; Sma 104:30).

“Of course, if the lender acknowledges that he lent only once, he collects only once.

“It further seems that this concern applies primarily to loan documents signed by witnesses or that stipulate that the borrower is not believed to say that he repaid without proof. However, regarding an IOU note signed only by the borrower, without a kinyan, the borrower is generally believed that he paid, regardless” (C.M. 70:1).

“Elsewhere, the Gemara (B.B. 168a) and Rishonim address cases where it is necessary to copy a loan document. For example, if the document faded and is becoming illegible, or if the lender needs to travel overseas to collect his loan and is afraid to carry the original with him. Beis Din can have the document copied, but must indicate that it is a copy and should hold the original, so that the lender should not be able to collect twice” (C.M. 41:1-3; Pischei Choshen, Shtaros 3:15-27[77]).

“Additionally, although it usually suffices to destroy the loan document when repaying, when collecting with a copy the lender should write a receipt, so that the borrower can show it should the original be presented later” (Sma 41:25).

“Here, too,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “two documents should not be made without indicating in them that one is a copy and that they relate to the same loan.”

Verdict: Two loan documents should not be made for the same loan. In cases of need, a duplicate can be made indicating that it is a copy.


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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail