In this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, we find the verse: “If you lend money to My people…” The word if usually implies an optional act. However, lending money (without interest) is actually a mitzva, a commandment!
According to the Midrash, G-d only tells the Jewish people to do and observe those things which He, Himself does. Thus it follows that G-d also observes the precept of “If you lend money to My people.”
A loan is given to someone even if he doesn’t deserve it. Nonetheless, it is not a gift; the borrower must ultimately repay the loan.
G-d, too, provides man with various abilities that he does not necessarily deserve. He demands, though, that this “loan” be repaid – that the abilities be utilised for the realisation of one’s mission in life.
There are two types of loans: loan of an object and loan of money. The difference between them is that in the first case the borrower must return the same object, for it does not become his property. A monetary loan, however, is “given to be spent”; it becomes the property of the debtor and he may use it any way he desires.
When G-d provides man with abilities it is like a monetary loan. Man chooses how he will use these abilities. Will he use them for his own purposes or to realise his mission in life?
A loan, even of abilities, is given to be spent. Every Jew is permitted to take his loan and to utilise it for his personal affairs. However, he must always bear in mind the ultimate purpose for which the loan was intended.
Practically speaking, the midrash comments that lending money to the poor is tantamount to lending to G-d. And in Proverbs it says, “He that is gracious to the poor, lends to the Eternal and He will repay him…”
When G-d pays back His debt, though, He does so according to His measure. Just as G-d is infinite, He recompenses without limit.
Charity is equivalent to all the mitzvot. Among the various levels in charity, the highest is gemilut chasadim. Gemilut chasadim literally means performance of kindness. In colloquial usage, though, this term usually refers to granting [interest] free loans.
Our sages say that gemilut chasadim is superior to charity, for charity can be given only to the poor while free loans are given to both the poor and the rich. Charity implies the existence of a rich person and a poor person. But, gemilut chasadim is not limited. Moshiach NOW!!!