Halacha for Tuesday 24 Tevet 5779 January 1 2019

Interest

It is forbidden to loan money on interest (among Jews). This is a Torah prohibition, as the verse states, “When you lend money to my nation, to the poor among you etc. exact no interest from them.” For instance, if one loans a sum of money to another for a month and stipulates that the borrower must return the principle amount plus a certain percentage, such as if one loans one thousand dollars to a friend and stipulates that the borrower must repay one thousand two hundred dollars, this constitutes the Torah prohibition of charging interest. The sin of Jews who engage in such activities is too great to bear and they shall not arise during the Resurrection of the Dead.

An Eternal Grave
Once, there was a terrible, miserly individual who would loan money on interest who lived in the city of Hagaon Rabbeinu Akiva Eiger. Whenever anyone approached him for Tzedakah, he would constantly refuse to donate. Even when representatives of the Chevra Kaddisha (Jewish burial society) would come and request Tzedakah from him, he would send them away empty-handed. Several years later, when this wicked man died, his sons turned to the Chevra Kaddisha and requested that they bury their father. The Chevra Kaddisha were now afforded an opportunity to exact revenge from the wicked miser and they told his children, “The current price for a grave is one thousand gold coins.” Startled by what they heard, the children began to complain about the overly-inflated price which was many times more the regular price for a grave. They likewise sent an urgent request to the non-Jewish nobleman who governed the city to compel the Chevra Kaddisha to bury their father. Due to the nature of the situation, the nobleman immediately the city’s rabbi, Hagaon Rabbeinu Akiva Eiger. He turned to the venerable rav and asked, “Why are they charging such an exorbitant price for the grave?” The Rav replied, “My dear nobleman. In general, the price for a grave is merely a few hundred gold coins. However, this is only because we believe in the concept of the Resurrection of the Dead; thus, we only collect a minimal fee for a few years of usage. Nevertheless, the deceased, who commonly loaned money on interest, will not be arising during the Resurrection of the Dead and his children are thus requesting to purchase an eternal grave for him. The price is therefore relative and appropriate.”

The Severity of the Sin of Loaning Money on Interest
The Tur writes that one must be exceedingly careful regarding the prohibition of charging interest as there are many Torah prohibitions associated with it. Even the borrower who pays the interest transgresses this sin, as do the witnesses and guarantors of such a loan. The assets of anyone who loans money on interest shall dwindle and it as if he has denied in the Exodus from Egypt and the existence of Hashem, G-d of Israel.

Banks
In most banks in Israel, all transactions between Jews are subject to a Heter Iska agreement (a halachic mechanism which permits collecting certain dividends associated with a loan; we cannot delve into all the intricacies of this agreement at this time) which negates the prohibition of loaning money on interest in certain situations according to the Poskim. When private transactions are executed between individuals, all relevant parties must take care that if there are any interest issues related to the transaction, they must consult with a reputed halachic authority who is fluent in the laws interest to prepare a Heter Iska agreement for them according to Halacha.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Praying Arvit on a Voluntary Basis

We have mentioned in the previous Halacha that if one was in the midst of reciting the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed this prayer, one must stop praying immediately, for all of one’s blessings are considered blessings in vain. One may not intend for the rem......

Read Halacha

One Who Begins the Amida Prayer and Then Remembers That He Has Already Prayed

Question: What is the appropriate procedure for one has begun to recite the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed that specific prayer? Answer: We have already explained that one may pray a voluntary prayer which one is not obligated to as a voluntary prayer and is t......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot

Regarding the giving of the Torah, the Torah states (Shemot 19): “And they travelled from Refidim and they arrived at the Sinai Desert and they camped in the desert; and Israel camped there opposite the mountain.” Rabbeinu Chaim ben Atar, the saintly “Or Ha’Chaim,” ......

Read Halacha

Laws of the Compensatory Prayer-Continued

In the previous Halachot we have explained that if one forgets to pray a certain prayer, the individual must compensate for the missed prayer by reciting the Amida of the next prayer twice, once for the current obligatory prayer and the second as a compensatory prayer for the prayer one missed. T......

Read Halacha


Some Laws Regarding the Compensatory Prayer and the Laws of Women Regarding the Compensatory Prayer

In the Halachot sent out before Shavuot, we have discussed the general laws of the compensatory prayer which is that if one forgets to pray a certain prayer, one must compensate for this prayer immediately at the end of the following prayer one prays. For instance, if one has forgotten to pray Shach......

Read Halacha

Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha

Sweet Pastries and Dairy Chocolate

In the previous Halachot, we have explained that our Sages prohibited baking bread with milk (or animal fat) mixed in the dough lest others come and eat this bread with meat (or dairy). We have mentioned that if the bread or baked good is baked in a distinct shape which everyone recognizes to be ......

Read Halacha