Return to main index

B2. Returning a Needed Pledged Item    [Make a Comment]

We are to return an item we are holding in pledge when the owner is in need of it.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):

Exodus 22:25 [26] (Maimonides RP199; Meir MP63; Chinuch C587)
If you take your neighbor's coat as collateral, you are to restore it to him by sundown.

Deuteronomy 24:12 (Maimonides RN240; Meir MN61; Chinuch C586)
If he is poor, you are not to go to bed with what he gave as collateral in your possession;

Deuteronomy 24:13 (Maimonides RP199; Chinuch C587)
rather, you must restore the pledged item at sunset; then he will go to sleep wearing his garment and bless you. This will be an upright deed of yours before ADONAI your God.

Although historically commanded to Israelites concerning lending money to and taking security from other Israelites, compassion suggests that this mitzvah be applied to everyone. It in fact raises the question of whether it is proper, in the first place, to take possession of any pledged object which is likely to be needed in the future.

In contemporary life it is unlikely that a person who is not in the pawn business will take security of chattel for a loan, and it is even less likely that chattel security would involve clothing. Yet, there might be a moral analogy if one takes possession of an item such as a person's tool if the tool is needed by him to earn a living.

Commentator:
Maimonides presents a more literal interpretation, requiring the pledged item to be returned during the day or night as needed. "Need", in this context, is on the level of survival, protection, earning capacity, health, and basic comfort. HaChinuch is consistent with Maimonides and Meir.

NCLA: JMm JFm KMm KFm GMm GFm

Return to main index