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Are you allowed to borrow money from a Jew without having a reasonable idea how you will be able to repay the loan?

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya. I hope you register as a user so that you can get more benefit from this site. I edited your post a bit -- I deleted the second sentence which was difficult to understand and seemed to not add anything. Please revise if it had more meaning. –  Bruce James Apr 8 at 19:15
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אמר להם, צאו וראו איזוהי דרך ישרה שידבק בה האדם רבי אליעזר אומר, עין טובה רבי יהושע אומר, חבר טוב רבי יוסי אומר, שכן טוברבי שמעון אומר," הרואה את הנולד" רבי אלעזר אומר, לב טוב אמר להם, רואה אני את דברי אלעזר בן ערך מדבריכם, שבכלל דבריו דבריכם אמר להם צאו וראו איזוהי דרך רעה שיתרחק ממנה האדם רבי אליעזר אומר, עין רעה רבי יהושע אומר, חבר רע רבי יוסי אומר, שכן רע רבי שמעון אומר," הלוה ואינו משלם" I believe this is how some peirushuim explain this Mishna in Avos 2:9 one who doesn't see in the future to pay back his loan he owes. –  sam Apr 8 at 19:54

1 Answer 1

This site says

Just like there is strong language when it comes to giving loans, Jewish law also uses strong words for those who take loans without the means or the intention to repay them.

and quotes Rambam Hilchos Malveh veLoveh 1:3 writes (with my emphasis):

Similarly, it is forbidden for a borrower to take a loan and use it when it is unnecessary and lose it, leaving his creditor without a source to collect the debt. This applies even if the owner is very wealthy. A person who acts in this way is wicked, as Psalms 37:21 states: "A wicked man borrows and does not pay." Our Sages commanded: "Treat money belonging to your colleague as dearly as your own."

from which it is clear that you are not allowed to borrow money from someone without clearly knowing how it will be paid back.

Edit: There has been some discussion about the Rambam's meaning.

I now add quotes from

Rabbi Aron Tendler on Hilchos Choshen Mishpot who writes

The lender has a right to demand proper collateral for his loan to guarantee that it will be paid back in a timely manner. If the lender is not satisfied with the guarantees provided, he has no obligation to lend, even if the borrower is a poor person. It is essential that a person keep in mind when faced with this situation that all of his actions must be L'Shem Shomayim (For The Sake Of Heaven).

Rabbi Yitzchok A. Breitowitz who writes

At the same time, however, the debtor's obligation to pay is considered to be an absolute obligation and there is no mechanism in halakhah that is tantamount to escaping your debts by filing a bankruptcy and obtaining a discharge.

Meir Tamari in his book “With all your possessions” who writes:

On the other hand the debtor too has religious obligations. He is not permitted wilfully to mismanage the funds given him, nor may he spend them on riotous living. Above all the debtor is obligated to return the loan at the date agreed upon; any deviation to this is akin to theft. The unconditional obligation to repay loans is an important concept that has applications not only in the sphere of credit, but also for many aspects of the modern economy.

These quotes do not explicitly prohibit you from borrowing money from a Jew without having a reasonable idea how you will be able to repay the loan.

Bearing in mind the absolute obligation and that deviation from repayment on time is akin to theft it would certainly be wise to take a loan only when you know clearly how it will be paid back.

“Wise” but not “required”. And the lender need only loan when he is satisfied with the guarantees provided.

In a less nuanced way, my first source does say however

Just like there is strong language when it comes to giving loans, Jewish law also uses strong words for those who take loans without the means or the intention to repay them.

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Then what is someone who is destitute supposed to do, beg instead? Then of what purpose is the admonition against refusing a loan? You're only required to give loans to wealthy people? –  Seth J Apr 8 at 18:49
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Not having a clear plan is different from not intending to return it –  Double AA Apr 8 at 19:11
    
When does a lender take a loan anyway? –  Seth J Apr 8 at 19:41
    
@SethJ On your second comment, Rambam says וכן אסור ללוה ליקח הלואה so as you point out the translation is a problem and I have edited it. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 8 at 19:48
    
@SethJ On your first comment - someone who knows he cannot repay a loan should rather accept tzedoko. (That's what he is doing effectively if he takes a loan and does not repay it. The one who gives tzedoko may "dress it up" as a loan to spare the feelings of the poor man.) I believe you are only required to give loans to those who can repay who may not necessarily be wealthy but who are certainly not destitute. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 8 at 19:53

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