Q: Under what circumstances are merchandise loans permitted?
A: We mentioned last week that Chazal prohibited merchandise loans unless they are based on the cash value, lest the price of the merchandise rise before repaying the merchandise. This is called se’ah b’se’ah (a measure for a measure).
Nonetheless, Chazal allowed three exceptions to this prohibition, which cover many of the common cases.
- Yesh lo (he has): If the borrower has even a small amount of the merchandise in stock, he may borrow more of that merchandise. It is even permissible for the lender to give or sell the borrower a little bit of the merchandise, in order to allow borrowing a large quantity. (Y.D. 162:2)
- Yatza ha’shaar (there is a stable price in the market): If the item is readily available at a fixed, stable price, it is permissible to borrow (e.g. postage stamps or, possibly, produce after the season is well under way). (162:3; The Laws of Ribbis 14:11)
- Davar mu’at (small amount): It is permissible to borrow a small amount of food from neighbors, since the potential price discrepancy is generally insignificant and neighbors do not care. (Rama 162:1; Mishna Berurah 450:2)
These laws are also relevant for borrowing foreign currency, as we will discuss next week, IY”H.
Authores 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 (www.businesshalacha.com) and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.