Torah Portion: Mishpatim
When you lend money to My people, to the poor person who is with you (Shemos 22:24).
It is a positive commandment to extend a loan to a poor person, as much as one can afford and as needed by the poor person in order to relieve his financial pressure and alleviate his distress. This mitzvah, of extending loans, is more important and is of greater importance than the mitzvah of giving charity. For a person whose financial plight has already become well-known to others, and who has already exposed himself to ask for the charity, is [in a way] not as pressed as the person who has not yet come to such disgrace and is embarrassed to start asking for handouts. With just a small amount of support in the form of a loan, he will have enough to turn it into profit, perhaps, then, he will never need to ask for charity. Instead, when Hashem has mercy on him and provides him with funds, he will pay back his debts and earn a livelihood from the remainder. Our perfect Torah therefore commanded us about this matter, to bolster the person who is beginning to lose his finances and to give him a loan, before he is forced to beg for charity.
The root of the mitzvah is that Hashem wished that His creatures be trained and accustomed to the trait of compassion, for it is a most praiseworthy trait. Then, through the perfection of their body with good traits, they will be worthy of receiving Divine good; good can rest only upon a person who is himself good. And when Hashem, may He be blessed, bestows good upon a person, that fulfills His will, for it is His will to bestow good upon the world. If not for this idea the Holy One would have provided the poor person with all his needs directly; however, it is Hashem’s kindness that He made us His emissaries [to help others], in order to give us merit.