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Shabbat Parashat Vayeishev 5776

Ask the Rabbi: How Fast Does a Guarantor Have to Pay?

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: Does an arev kablan (strong form of loan guarantor) have to pay immediately upon being asked to? If not, how much time does he have?

 

Answer: Let us first make sure we understand each other’s terminology. There are different forms of arevim, with the two main ones being: a regular arev and an arev kablan, literally, a receiving arev. An arev kablan, either by explicit agreement, language and/or circumstances, is treated like a direct recipient of the loan, even though the ultimate beneficiary is someone else. As a result, while usually a lender can approach the arev only after it is apparent that the borrower will not pay (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 129:8), he can approach an arev kablan before trying the borrower (ibid. 15).

Now to your question. The Rambam (Malveh 26:2) says that an arev does not have to pay until 30 days have passed from the time he became obligated, just as a borrower gets 30 days. The Bach (CM 129) understands that the arev is exactly like the borrower for whom he is covering. Therefore, just as the 30-day grace period is only if the borrower does not have money to pay immediately (Shulchan Aruch, CM 100:1), so too the arev’s 30 days is only under those circumstances. The Shach (CM 129:23) argues cogently that it is evident from the Rambam, that the arev has the following advantage. Even if the borrower’s time to pay has already passed, the arev’s 30-day clock starts ticking only at the point the payment of the debt becomes his responsibility. Even if he has money, he has time to figure out how to best handle the payment. The 30 days is based on the concept that when one takes a loan for an unspecified length of time, its duration is normally assumed to be 30 days (see Shulchan Aruch, CM 73:1).

However, the Shach’s ruling is not so relevant to an arev kablan. Since the arev kablan accepts the responsibilities of a borrower, he does not deserve extra time beyond the borrower’s. On the practical realm, since the borrower can extract payment without first trying the lender, he should not be surprised if the payment falls on him and should have his payment plan worked out.

However, the question is: even if an arev kablan is like the borrower, does the borrower have to pay immediately? The gemara (Bava Metzia 118a) says that “the time of beit din is 30 days.” This means that from the time that beit din makes an award or gives instructions, the standard time for carrying it out is 30 days. Thus, if one admits to beit din that he owes money but requests time to raise it, beit din gives him 30 days (Shulchan Aruch, CM 100:1). The Rama (ad loc.) says that this is only an average of time. If they understand he needs either more or less time, they should adjust it accordingly, including immediate payment for those with the wherewithal (ibid.).

The same is true of your arev kablan. While in theory he should pay right away, in practice, his request to push it off for around 30 days will be accepted when based on legitimate need. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 2) cites two opinions on whether a borrower can request a 30-day grace period for payment when the target date of payment was set in advance. The rationale of the stricter opinion is that he had the time to prepare the payment, which should have been complete by the stated time. There is strong logic to argue that in the case of an arev kablan, all might agree to give him the 30 days upon a reasonable request. This is because even though the lender can come to the arev before the borrower, it is not usually clear that he will do so. Thus, the arev kablan can legitimately say that he needs the normal amount of time to prepare.

In summary, an arev kablan should pay the debt as soon as he reasonably can after the lender’s request, which may often be immediate. If there are difficulties, the average grace-period is 30 days from the time he is told to pay, just as it is for the borrower. It is possible that our assumption about the speed of the payment may be slightly different for an arev kablan than for a borrower. 
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