Life-Changing Idea

You never know when you will encounter an idea that will change your life. This module presents one idea that can be found in the parsha that has that power.


This Parsha discusses the prohibition of lending people money with interest. This mitzva is a little hard to understand. In the secular world it is very normal to pay interest on a loan. If someone is giving you access to their money, it makes sense that you should compensate them. Also, it is permitted to rent someone an object. Why is interest any worse?


Rav Chaim Shmulevitz explains that there is a fundamental difference between renting an object and loaning with interest. People rent things all the time for many reasons. On the other hand, people who ask for loans are usually in positions of financial duress. No one wants to be in a position where they have to ask for a loan and go into debt. Making money off of another person’s vulnerability is immoral. When we see someone in duress our instinct needs to be to seek to help them, not to profit off of their misfortune.


 The Torah is teaching us a radical way of viewing life. It instructs us to try to see beyond ourselves and empathize with those who are less fortunate than us.