Business Halacha: A Letter of Thanks for a Loan


house-mortgageQ:  My uncle lent me money to buy a house. When I repay the loan, may I attach a letter of profuse thanks?

A: Our Sages prohibited the lender from receiving any form of benefit from the borrower, even verbal¬†benefit. This is referred to as ribbis devarim and is associated with the verse, “neshech kol davar“(any word). It is even prohibited for the borrower to go out of his way to greet the lender, if he was not accustomed to do so beforehand. [It is certainly permitted, though, for the borrower to respond to the lender’s greeting.] (Y.D. 160:11-12)

Some authorities indicate that even simple, cordial thanks are prohibited, but many contemporary poskim allow a “Thank you” offered as common courtesy. (The Laws of Ribbis, 3:14-18) Therefore, you should suffice with attaching a simple letter of thanks, without profuse writing. Similarly, it is possible to give the lender greetings that are unrelated to the loan, such as “Mazal Tov” on the occasion of a simcha. (Bris Yehuda 11(63))

The prohibition of ribbis devarim, such as a greeting the lender, is usually limited to the duration of the loan or the time of repayment, but is permitted afterwards. It is questionable, however, whether it is permitted afterwards if directly linked to the loan, such as thanking profusely for it. (Bris Yehuda 10(8), but see Darchei Teshuva 160:87)

 Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian

These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision. The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute ( and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.

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  1. Excerpt from here:

    “R’ Shimon Schwab zt’l once told me something that the [Mir}Mashgiach [Rav Yeruchom levovitz Zatzal] taught him about bein odom lechavero. Before Pesach R’ Shimon had borrowed some money from R’ Yeruchom so that he could get home for yom tov. When he came back to Mir and paid the loan back, he attempted to say, `Thank you,’ but R’ Yeruchom cut him off brusquely: `Don’t you know the halacha, that saying thank you might be ribis?’

    “A year later R’ Shimon needed once again to borrow his travel money, and this time when he paid it back after yom tov he remembered his lesson. Shaking slightly, he put the money on the table and rushed for the door without saying a word. The Mashgiach called him back: `What about saying Thank you? What happened to gratitude?’ R’ Shimon was staggered: `Last year you warned me that it’s ossur!’ Now R’ Yeruchom explained himself: `To say it is certainly ossur; but you still have to want to say it! You mustn’t treat other people’s help as if it were a matter of course. To say thank you out loud is ossur, but your heart has to feel thank you.'”