Suppose a Jew charges and receives interest from a Jew, only finding out that the other party is Jewish after. He should refuse the interest. BUT he knows that the debtor has defaulted on a debt to someone else. May he give the interest collected to the other creditor who lost his principal?

  • 1
    How is Ribbis relevant here? This doesn't seem any different than if the borrower had simply left money in your house by accident while he owes money to someone else.
    – Double AA
    Nov 2, 2016 at 14:13
  • 1
    This question would be a great deal more compelling if you'd edit in why you expect that these two issues - the status of accidentally-collected interest and paying off creditors of defaulted debts - might interact. meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/3760/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 2, 2016 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


this is an attempt to respond. Reuven loaned and charged interest from Shim'on. After some time Reuven found that Shim'on is Jew. He needs to return the interests. But Shim'on owes Levi money. Reuven want to give the interests to Levi.

I think that the reasoning has two steps. - Is the ribbit a property of Reuven? If not, he can give it only to Shim'on. If yes he can give it to the third person as he can give his own money.

Gemara says (BM 61b):

R'Eleazar said: Direct interest can be reclaimed in court, but not indirect interest. R'Johanan ruled: Even direct interest cannot be reclaimed in court.

The Halacha is follows Rabbi El'azar but there is two ways to understand this. The mitsva to return is according to Rambam a part of the mitsva to restore a stolen item. Ritba see it as an isolated Mitsva of Vechay Achicha Imach, an injonction to help your brother to remain alive. So, the fact that Reuven need to return the interests can be viewed as a paiement of a debt or as a Mitsva to help Shim'on. The question is if the transaction of Ribbit (called ktitsa) is a part of the debt as a standart loan create a debt of Keren. Rishonim discussed this, Rambam viewed restoration of ribbit as restoration of stolen money, and Ritba viewed this as a mitsva to give this money, a gift.

Your question seems to be relevant according to the Ritba opinion (and poskim seem agreeng with it), according to which Reuven can give valid Kiddushin to a woman with the Ribbit, it is owns. But despite that, I am not sure that he can give the money to Levi, as seen below.

See Pitche Teshuva SA YD 161 sk 6:

עי׳ בתשובת תפארת צבי סימן מ"ח אות א' להגאון החסיד מהר"ר עקיבא איגר זצ"ל נסתפק באם אחד נתן למלוה רבית קצוצה ועדין לא פרע לו הקרן ומת המלוה אם יכול לנכות להיורשים מהקרן שחייב לשלם להם מה שנתן ריבית קצוצה אי דומה לסלוקי בלא זוזי לדעת הסוברים באבק ריבית דהוי אפוקי (לקמן סימן קע"ב סעיף א' בהג"ה ועיין בש"ך לקמן סימן קע"ז ס"ק ב') ה"נ י"ל דהוי אפוקי ומיורשים אין מוציאים או דלא דמי לאבק ריבית דשם הוי ממונו לכשנתן לו זכה בהן אבל הכא היה צריך להחזיר והוי כפרעון על חוב והוא ז"ל כתב דלכאורה נראה דאף ריבית קצוצה נמי הוא קונה רק שמחויב להחזיר מצד המצוה ובריה אינו מוזהר והאריך בזה ולבסוף מסיק דמטעם אחר יכול לנכות דכיון שאילו אביהם קיים לא היה יכול לגבות אין בידו להוריש זה הממון ליורשים עיין שםועיין עוד בתשובת מהרע"א הנ״ל סימן פ' מענין זה. ועיין בספר דגול מרבבה שנסתפק אם מת הלוה אם המלוה חייב להחזיר ליורשי הלוה כיון שעיקר חזרת רבית הוא משום וחי אחיך אהדר לי׳ כי היכי ליחיה וכיון שמת הלוה לא יבא לחיותו והביא דברי הכל בו שכתב יש לו להשיב הרבית לו וליורשיו וכתב ואפשר דהיינו ברוצה לשוב אבל הב"ד נראה שאין כרפין להשיב ליורשי הלוה עיין שם: ‏

He presents two cases linked to your question. First, if Shim'on payed the Ribbit and not the loan itself, and Reuven died. If the son of Reuven can retain the ribbit as a part of the due payment? Second question, if Shim'on is dead, Reuven need to restore the ribbit to Shim'on son. These two questions are a matter of our first consideration. We see that Rabbi Akiva Eiger stated that the Ribbit is a property of Reuven, only the mitsva of Vehay Ahicha... generates the "restoration". Rabbi Yechezkel Landau also seems to share this view. But anyway the difference is only from the point of view of the offspring of Reuven, not for Reuven himself.

Conclusion, Reuven cannot to give the Ribbit to the third person.

There is perhaps an other part of the problem if Reuven was allowed to achiev justice himself, but I don't know such a thing. I know a din of Adam Ose Din Leatsmo, a din of Tofes lebaal chov bimkom Shechav Laacherim but I cannot see a right link with the question. But if Reuven want to take the interests for an other debt that Shim'on owes him, anyway the question will be if this debt can cancel the mitsvat asse of Vechay. I think that the response is:No.

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