Business Halacha: Must I Patronize a Jewish Business?


kosher-foodQuestion: Is there halachic basis to give priority to patronizing Jewish businesses? 

 Answer: Toras Kohanim derives from the verse, “When you sell something to your fellow or buy from the hand of your fellow” (Vayikra 25:14), that one should give commercial priority to his Jewish brethren. This halacha is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch, but is cited by numerous responsa.

The poskim debate whether the law applies if the non-Jew sells for cheaper. Rama (Responsa #10) cites this law to give priority to an edition of the Rambam printed by Maharam Padua over a competing, cheaper edition printed by a non-Jew. He understands from the Gemara (B.M. 71a; Pesachim 21b) that the law applies even when there is a price difference between the two and there will be a loss in buying from the Jew.

On the other hand, some achronim argue that this law is only “proper advice” (Korban Ha’eda on Toras Kohanim). A number of others maintain that it applies only when there is no price differential (Maharsham in Mishpat Shalom C.M. 189). Maharam Shick (C.M. #31) also maintains that a businessman does not need to buy from a Jewish supplier who is more expensive, but should do so if it is only an issue of convenience.

There is a third, middle position advocated by some achronim, which will be discussed next week, IY”H.

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. I would love to patronize only Jewish stores. The price difference in many cases is huge. Many of us need to be more aware of prices during these difficult times.
    It would also help if the frum store owners would show some appreciation when we do shop in their stores.

  2. There is a story about Rabbi Schwartz, the legendary menahel of Yeshiva Toras Emes, that dates back to the 1950’s. The yeshiva bachurim were buying snacks from a non-jewish store. A frum yid approached him and complained that the bachurim should buy by him. After speaking to the bachurim, Rabbi Schwartz approached the store owner and told him that since he charged more money for every item then the goy, the boys are not obligated to buy from him unless he dropped his price.

  3. The fact is that most stores in BP do not even make more than 30% markup (reg. markup 50%) and are in most cases comparable to goyishe places. (perhaps not in clothing). They shop the market to get the cheapest, most Jewishly tasteful and quality merchandise. I am moving now and am very price conscious while buying furniture and doing renovations. I’m proud to say that most of the time the Jewish contractor and Jewish stores came through beautifully pricewise and quality. I believe we should give our brothers a real chance especially in this economy. I think if we do so we may be pleasantly surprised.

  4. The great diference in price between heimishe stores and the others is not the only factor that would drive yiddishe customers to even think about patronizing the others.

    1) FRESHNESS – Very often items sold at the heimishe stores is WAY beyond the sell by date, mah sheain kain by the others.

    2)CUSTOMER SERVICE – When something needs to be returned, whereas the other stores accept the return, no q’s asked, the heimishe stores give SUCH a hard time, that most people just say, ach, and take the loss themselves.

    3) WORKERS – In order to keep their profits to the maximum, heimishe stores hire VERY questionable (illegal) immigrants who don’t speak English, and cannot assist us customers. The others hire according to dina d’malchusa and the workers at least speak English

    4) SIDE GRIPE – If we are expected to overlook all of these factors for the joy and nachs of shopping at a frum establishment, then why don’t the heimishe owners have reciprocal feelings. They should be willing to charge EVEN LESS for the joy and nachas that THEY get from only dealing with frum customers!

    5) FURTHERMORE – WHy don’t these heimishe yidden HIRE WORKERS who are from UNZERE????? During these tough financial times I know many a balabuss who would do anything at this point, rather than sit home and be jobless, unlike the shechorim. Could the answer be $$$$$ PROFIT$ ?? Well, then why are WE consumers obligated to support them, when they don’t support us??

  5. I’am from out of NY & when we come to NY to shop its like the owners are doing you a favor to let you come in there. No hello,no customer service,no can I help you,& no thank you.This applies in just about every place in particular.

  6. Dear Outragous
    What do you call “others”? Huge chain stores like Walmart, Cosco and Target? Of course they let you return. They have a deal with their suppliers to return to them because they are so big. Sorry the local stores can not afford to swallow the loss.

  7. Pomegranate in Flatbush has very good customer
    service. Heimeish young men are there all the time to help a customer, and their products are
    very fresh. It’s a pleasure to shop there.