Now that the great importance of the mitzvah of chessed-kindness has been clarified, and how lofty is the level of one who does acts of chessed and of lending one’s money to others, we should now turn to wonder why is it, then, that people are lax about it and what are the fallacies of their arguments. Perhaps if we do so, this area can be improved.
Some people refrain from lending money to others because they are afraid that the borrower will not pay back but, at the same time, the lender does not want to take an item as collateral. This, however, is not an argument that can exempt the person from this mitzvah. If the sum of the loan the person is requesting is a small one — such that because of the basic law of tzedakah the lender would have had to give it to the person outright, or because of the mitzvah of You shall support him he would have been obligated to give it to him — than he is certainly obligated to give the person this sum as a loan. For even if the borrower never does pay it back, than it would be considered tzedakah which in any case he is obligated to do. And even if it was a larger sum under discussion, then if the borrower is offering a pledge as collateral, he is obligated to give the loan. But let us say the borrower is not offering to give anything as security, and the lender is afraid of giving him a loan, he must consider this: If someone would be offering him profit (interest) for the loan, would he then have been willing to give the loan or not. If the lender knows that for profit he would have given this sum as a loan, that is a sure sign that it is not really a risky loan, because he would not have risked his money for a doubtful gain. Rather, it probably is a safe loan and it is only the Yetzer Ha-ra that is planting this doubt in his heart because of the mitzvah involved. Nevertheless, one should weigh the matter carefully to see whether or not it would cause a loss to the lender.