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When is a Pruzbul Written?

Rav Avrohom Yeshaya Cohen, Rosh Kollel of Kollel Ohel Yitzchok and Posek at The Bais HaVaad

Question: I was under the assumption that debts are erased at the end of the shemittah year; however, I noticed some men in shul writing pruzbuls at the beginning of this year. Why were they doing that?

Answer: You are correct that loans are erased at the end of the shemittah year. The Rosh, however, says a chiddush, which is the basis for why some people are machmir to also write a pruzbul at the beginning of the year. He says that even though the loan is wiped out at the end of shmeittah, it is already forbidden for the lender to collect it during shemittah. Consequently, it would be impossible to write a pruzbul and give over the ability to collect the debt to beis din after the lender cannot collect it himself, so according to this opinion one would need to write a pruzbul before shemittah starts.

While some people are machmir like the Rosh, the basic halacha does not follow his opinion and one need not worry if he did not write a pruzbul at the beginning of the year.

There is a second reason why some people are stringent to write a pruzbul before the shemittah year. There actually is a machlokes Rishonim in Maseches Avodah Zara regarding how to calculate the year of shemittah. According to Rashi’s opinion, the year 5781 was actually a shemittah year. According to him, last year was shemittah and loans were erased before Rosh Hashanah 5782. Although we do not follow this opinion, and we will be keeping shemittah in 5782, some people were stringent to write a pruzbul at the end of 5781 to satisfy the opinion of Rashi. 

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