Friday, June 15, 2007

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Advice Line: Borrowing

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A friend asks: My rabbi borrowed a bunch of money from me and didn't pay me back. What should I do?

The Mystical Advice Line answers:

When you turn your back on your dog and he hops up on the table and grabs a piece of meat, well, he's just being a dog. He smells, he desires, he grabs, after all, he's a dog. We don't expect him to channel his desires into the right time, right place, right permission.

The yetzer hara, the evil inclination, doesn't come and visit the rabbi and say each treif (non-kosher). Because he's not a dog, and he's got that desire, that (relatively speaking) little animal under control.

He comes to the rabbi and says, "You need some money to keep the program going, or start the new one, it's important for the community, and for Torah and mitzvot. Just borrow some real quick from your close people, then you can go out and raise it back or rely on the big donor later."

And because that sly animal came dressed in a tallis (Jewish prayer shawl), and tied that desire to his community needs, he fell for it.

The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, says that when one gives a loan or takes a loan, there should be 2 witnesses or a signed contract. It doesn't give an allowance for a rabbi, or an honest or reputable person. Everyone has a yetzer hara, and the Code tells us ways to protect against it (yet still function in this world).

Unfortunately friend, you're in a difficult situation of damaging your relationship with the rabbi, and/or impacting the community while trying to recover what is yours and you may desperately need. I would recommend you go and quietly speak to the rabbi, gently mentioning that he may want to consult the Shulchan Aruch on loans and whether or not it states community need overrides the responsibility to pay back.

Note however, if you know he can't pay, you are not permitted to chase him. These situations can be complex and its often appropriate to consult with an orthodox Jewish court (a beis din).

(The picture is from under the Kotel, and is the closest point to the Kodesh HaKadoshim, the holy of holies, on the outside of the Western Wall. The mekubalim, the kabbalists, hold a minyan, a prayer quorum, here regularly.)

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

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