מתני׳ אין מקבלין צאן ברזל מישראל מפני שהוא רבית אבל מקבלין צאן ברזל מן העכו"ם MISHNA: One may not accept from a Jew sheep to raise or other items to care for as a guaranteed investment, in which the terms of the transaction dictate that the one accepting the item takes upon himself complete responsibility to repay its value in the event of depreciation or loss, but receives only part of the profit. This is because it is a loan, as the principal is fixed and always returned to the owner, and any additional sum the owner receives is interest. But one may accept a guaranteed investment from gentiles, as there is no prohibition of interest in transactions with them.
ולוין מהן ומלוין אותן ברבית וכן בגר תושב מלוה ישראל מעותיו של עכו"ם מדעת העכו"ם אבל לא מדעת ישראל: And one may borrow money from them and one may lend money to them with interest. And similarly, with regard to a gentile who resides in Eretz Yisrael and observes the seven Noahide mitzvot [ger toshav], one may borrow money from him with interest and lend money to him with interest, since he is not a Jew. Also, a Jew may serve as a middleman and lend a gentile’s money to another Jew with the knowledge of the gentile, but not with the knowledge of a Jew, i.e., the middleman himself, as the Gemara will explain.
גמ׳ למימרא דברשותא דמקבל קיימא ורמינהו המקבל צאן ברזל מן הנכרים ולדות פטורין מן הבכורה GEMARA: With regard to the ruling that a guaranteed investment is considered a loan with interest, the Gemara asks: Is this to say that the guaranteed investment stands in the possession of the recipient, i.e., the recipient is viewed as its owner? And the Gemara raises a contradiction from a mishna (Bekhorot 16a): In the case of one who accepts from gentiles an animal as a guaranteed investment, the offspring are exempt from the halakhot of a firstborn. This exemption apparently proves that the sheep still legally belong to the gentile owner.
אמר אביי לא קשיא הא דמקבל עליה אונסא וזולא הא דלא קביל עליה אונסא וזולא Abaye said: This is not difficult. That case, referring to the mishna in Bekhorot, is where the gentile owner of the sheep accepts upon himself the responsibility for losses due to an accident or depreciation in the market value, and that is why the sheep are considered to still belong to him. And this case, referring to the mishna here, is where the owner did not accept upon himself responsibility for losses due to an accident or depreciation. Therefore, the guaranteed investment stands in the possession of the recipient.
א"ל רבא אי דקביל עליה מרה אונסא וזולא צאן ברזל קרית ליה Rava said to Abaye: If the owner accepted upon himself responsibility for losses due to an accident or depreciation, can you call it a guaranteed investment? This case is not a guaranteed investment, as the owner is not guaranteed to receive what he had given, but rather it is a type of joint business venture that is permitted between two Jews.
ועוד אדתני סיפא אבל מקבלין צאן ברזל מן העכו"ם ליפלוג בדידיה במה דברי' אמורים דלא קביל עליה אונסא וזולא אבל קביל מרה אונסא וזולא שפיר דמי Rava continues: And furthermore, even if one will grant that this arrangement can be called a guaranteed investment, there is another difficulty. Instead of the tanna teaching in the latter clause of the mishna: But one may accept a guaranteed investment from gentiles, let the tanna distinguish within the case itself, that of accepting a guaranteed investment from a Jew. He should have taught: In what case is this statement, i.e., that one may not accept from a Jew sheep to raise or other items to care for as a guaranteed investment, said? It is said in a case when the owner did not accept upon himself responsibility for losses due to an accident or depreciation, but if the owner accepted upon himself responsibility for losses due to an accident or depreciation, one may well enter into such an arrangement.
אלא אמר רבא אידי ואידי דלא קביל עליה מרה אונסא וזולא וגבי בכורות היינו טעם דולדות פטורין מן הבכורה כיון דאי לא יהיב זוזי אתי נכרי תפיס לה לבהמה ואי לא משכח לה לבהמה תפיס להו לולדות והוי ליה יד נכרי באמצע Rather, Rava rejected this explanation and said: Both this case in the mishna here and that case with regard to the firstborn animal are discussing a situation where the owner did not accept upon himself responsibility for losses due to an accident or depreciation. And with regard to the firstborn, this is the reason that the offspring are exempt from the halakhot of a firstborn: Since, if for some reason the recipient does not give the money due to the gentile, the gentile will come and seize the animal, and if he does not find the animal he will seize the offspring; this means that the hand of a gentile is in the middle, i.e., the gentile has some degree of ownership of the bodies of the offspring.
וכל יד נכרי באמצע פטור מן הבכורה And there is a halakha: In every case where the hand of a gentile is in the middle, the animal is exempt from the halakhot of a firstborn. By contrast, in the case of the mishna concerning the halakhot of interest, the animal is entirely in the possession of the recipient.
(משלי כח, ח) מרבה הונו בנשך ותרבית לחונן דלים יקבצנו מאי לחונן דלים אמר רב כגון שבור מלכא § Apropos the discussion concerning the halakhot of interest, the Gemara cites several aggadic statements on the subject. The verse states: “He who augments his substance by interest [beneshekh] and increase [vetarbit] gathers it for him who has pity on the poor” (Proverbs 28:8). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase “him who has pity on the poor”? How does this money ultimately reach someone who has pity on the poor? Rav said: This is referring to one such as King Shapur, for ultimately the money will reach the king, who provides for the poor from the possessions of the one who lends with interest.
אמר רב נחמן אמר לי הונא לא נצרכא אלא דאפילו רבית דעובד כוכבים איתיביה רבא לרב נחמן (דברים כג, כא) לנכרי תשיך מאי תשיך לאו תשוך לא תשיך Rav Naḥman said: Rav Huna said to me that this verse is necessary only to state that even interest that a Jew took from a gentile will ultimately reach the government treasury, and the one who took it will not be successful. Rava raised an objection to the statement of Rav Naḥman: The verse states: “Unto a gentile tashikh” (Deuteronomy 23:21), which indicates that it is permitted for a Jew to take interest from a gentile, as what is the meaning of “tashikh”? Doesn’t it mean the same as tishokh, take interest, thereby teaching that one may take interest from a gentile? The Gemara refutes this claim: No, it means to pay interest, meaning that you must pay him interest.
לא סגי דלאו הכי לאפוקי אחיך דלא The Gemara asks: Is it not sufficient without this? In other words, can the verse actually require Jews to borrow money from a gentile and to pay him interest? This cannot be. The Gemara answers: It does not mean that borrowing money with interest is a mitzva; rather, the verse mentions paying interest to a gentile in order to exclude your brother, to teach that although one may pay interest to a gentile, one may not pay interest to a Jew.
אחיך בהדיא כתב ביה ולאחיך לא תשיך לעבור עליו בעשה ולא תעשה The Gemara challenges this explanation of the verse: The prohibition against paying interest to your brother is written explicitly in the continuation of that same verse in Deuteronomy: “Unto your brother you shall not lend with interest.” Consequently, there is no need to learn this halakha from an inference. The Gemara responds: It is necessary in order to teach that if one pays interest to a Jew he violates both the positive mitzva to pay interest to a gentile but not to a Jew, and the prohibition against paying interest to a Jew.
איתיביה לוין מהן ומלוין אותם ברבית וכן בגר תושב אמר רב חייא בריה דרב הונא לא נצרכא אלא Rava raised an objection to the statement of Rav Naḥman based on another difficulty in the mishna, which teaches: One may borrow money from them and one may lend money to them with interest. And similarly, with regard to a ger toshav, one may borrow money from him and lend money to him with interest, since he is not a Jew. The mishna indicates that a Jew may lend money with interest to a gentile ab initio. Rav Ḥiyya, son of Rav Huna, said: This ruling of the mishna is necessary only