Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/84

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Paragraph 1- One who impairs his document can only collect with an oath, even if the borrower did not make a claim that the lender should swear to him. How so? If the document was 1,000 zuz and the borrower claims he repaid all of it and the lender says he only collected a portion, the lender cannot collect the rest without an oath that is like a biblical oath, even if there were witnesses at the time of the repayment or the lender wrote a receipt for that which the borrower paid back. We do not say that had the borrower in fact paid more he would have paid with witnesses as he did the original repayment or that the lender would have written a receipt for him. Even if the lender was careful to include in his calculation even less than a perutah, we do not say that because he was so exact he must be saying the truth. If the document contains a believability clause, the lender can collect without an oath, even if it did not explicitly say he is believed “on all of it or on some of it.”

Paragraph 2- When is this true? Where the deadline has passed. If, however, it is within the deadline, the lender can collect without an oath, even if he impaired the document, unless the borrower makes a claim that the lender should swear to him.

Paragraph 3- If the document contains repayment language in between the lines, that is not considered as impairing the document which would require the lender to swear. If a document states on a scraped portion between the lines that 400 gold coins were paid back and the borrower claims that he paid back more but the lender scraped it off and wrote what he wanted and the repayment handwriting was the borrower’s, the lender is in the right.

Paragraph 4- One who minimizes his document can collect without an oath. How so? If his document was worth 1,000 zuz and the borrower claims he paid all of it back and the lender says I did not collect anything but you only owe me 500 and the 1,000 that was written was a trust between us, the lender can collect without an oath, even if the document does not contain a believability clause, unless the borrower makes a claim that the lender should swear that he did not collect anything. If, however, the lender says the debt was only 500 and the witnesses had erred and wrote 1,000 zuz, the lender has confessed that the witnesses testified falsely and the borrower would take a heses oath and be exempt.

Paragraph 5-If a solo witness testifies that a document has been paid back, the lender can only collect with an oath. When is this true? When the deadline has passed. If, however, the deadline has not passed, the lender can collect without an oath unless the borrower makes a claim that the lender should swear to him. If a solo witness testifies that a document has been repaid and the lender died before taking an oath, the inheritors cannot collect the loan. The same would apply if someone impairs his document and dies before taking an oath.