Torah Portion: Mishpatim
Do not lay interest upon him (Shemos 22:24).
It is a negative commandment that we not take any part in facilitating loans that involve taking or giving interest. That is, we should not act as guarantors to such a loan, act as witnesses about it, and that we should not write up a document for the lender or borrower who are transgressing the prohibition of interest-bearing loans. It is thus written: Do not lay interest upon him (Shemos22:24), which our Sages explain refers to those who facilitate interest-based loans, such as guarantors, witnesses, and scribes. The lender, as well, transgresses this prohibition, in addition to the other prohibitions that apply specifically to lender alone.
Among the roots of this mitzvah is the idea that God, Who is good, wishes the cultivation of the people whom He chose. He therefore commanded to remove any [misdirected aid] in situations where one person would consume the money and strength of another, without the other fellow even realizing what is being done against him and whereby his home is depleted of all good — for such is the way of interest and usury, and it is the reason the Torah calls it neshech (“biting interest”). When potential guarantors, scribes and witness refrain from this activity, people also refrain from such [forbidden loans].
This commandment applies in all places, at all times, to both men and women. One who transgresses this and acts as a scribe, guarantor, or witness for a lender [extending a interest-based loan] violates this prohibition.