583. Kitchen Aid: The prohibition against demanding food-preparing utensils as collateral

This mitzvah is a negative mitzvah that can be performed today and can be performed everywhere.

One may not take an upper or lower mill stone as security… (Deuteronomy 24:6)

If one is owed a debt, he is not permitted to seize utensils used to prepare food as a security. This is because such items are necessary to stay alive. By taking the debtor’s kitchen utensils, the creditor is impacting on their very ability to survive. That certainly goes well beyond the terms of the loan! If the lender seizes more than one such utensil, he is separately liable for each one. Take six utensils? You’ve violated this mitzvah six times.

This prohibition only applies if the lender seizes the utensils after the loan has been made. If the borrower volunteers them as collateral at the time of the loan, the lender is allowed to accept them. (In such a case, the borrower is effectively pawning his cookware, which is permissible.)

This mitzvah applies to both men and women in all times and places. It is discussed in the Talmud in tractate Baba Metzia (115a) and codified in the Shulchan Aruch in Choshen Mishpat 93. This mitzvah is #242 of the 365 negative mitzvos in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos and #58 of the 194 negative mitzvos that can be observed today as listed in the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar.