What is Prozbul?

The Torah states that any loans advanced to fellow Jews are to be forgiven at the end of the seven-year Shemittah cycle. A situation arose in which lenders were reluctant to loan money near the end of the cycle since the loans would be forgiven and they would not get their money back. Consequently, Hillel HaZaken devised a contract, named Prozbul, that is handed over to a rabbinical court and empowers the lender to collect the debt. There is disagreement among the Rishonim whether or not Prozbul is still applicable nowadays. The minority opinion, which includes the Eshkol, says that Prozbul is no longer applicable, while the Rosh (Shu”t HaRosh) says that it is only applicable in Israel. The Bet Yosef (Shu”t Avkat Rochel) categorically rejects this view and says that Prozbul is still applicable in both Israel and in the Diaspora, and this is the Halachic consensus. The custom in Morocco was to observe the laws of Prozbul and this is discussed by Rabbi Avraham Ankawa (Shu”t Kerem Hemer), Rabbi Itzhak Ben Walid (Shu”t Vayomer Itzhak, vol. Hoshen Mishpat) and Rabbi David Ovadia (Nahagu Ha’am, vol. Hoshen Mishpat).

The Prozbul contract is filled out and signed before two witnesses and then handed over to the Bet Din. This year (5775/2015) is the Shemittah year, and therefore, one who lent out money should complete a Prozbul so that one’s loan can be collected on one’s behalf by the Bet Din.

Summary:   One who lent out money to a fellow Jew should complete a Prozbul before Rosh Hashana 5776. Attached for those to whom this applies are Prozbul contracts in Hebrew and English.