Question: I lent my neighbor money. He (honestly) does not have money to pay, but has a house, a car, furniture and clothing. Is he obligated to sell personal assets to repay the loan?
Answer: In principle, a person is required to repay his loan even from personal assets. Similarly, beis din can collect these assets or sell them to enforce payment.
However, the Torah teaches (regarding a person who pledged to the Temple) that we allow the person to retain a certain minimum amount for his own support. This is known in halacha as siddur nechasim. We allow a borrower, similarly, an amount to cover his own food for a month, clothing for a year, and basic household furniture. We also allow him to retain two each of his professional tools. This would include his car, if integral to his profession. (C.M. 97:23)
A person is also obligated to sell his house in order to repay his loan, even if the loan is relatively small compared to the value of the house. (Shach 97:14; Rama 104:3) However, if he can rent the house, he might not be required to sell it, but can repay from the rental income. (Pischei Choshen, Halva’ah 2:22)
Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision.
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