Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 65:1

סִימָן סה – הִלְכוֹת רִבִּית

Chapter 65: Laws of Interest

א: לפי שנפשו של אדם בטבעו חומד ומתאוה אל הממון, וקרוב יותר שיהא האדם נכשל באסור רבית מבשאר אסורין שבממון, כי בגזל ואונאה וכדומה, הרי משגיח על עצמו שלא יהא נגזל ושלא יתאנה, וגם זה שהוא רוצה לגזול או להונות את חברו, לפעמים הוא נמנע מחמת בושה או מחמת יראה, מה שאין כן ברבית, כי הלוה נותן לו ברצונו הטוב, והוא שמח, כי מצא מקום ללוות על כל פנים ברבית, וגם המלוה חושב בדעתו, כי הרי הוא עושה טובה גדולה עם הלוה שיוכל להרויח בממון זה כפלי כפלים יותר מן הרבית, ולכן נקל מאד שיהא אדם נתפתה חס ושלום מן היצר הרע להיות נכשל באסור זה. על כן החמרה תורתנו הקדושה מאד באסור זה, והרבה לאוין נאמרו בו, המלוה עובר בששה לאוין, ולא יקום בתחית המתים, שנאמר בנשך נתן ותרבית לקח וחי, לא יחיה. הלוה עובר בשלשה לאוין, הסופר, והעדים והערב עוברים כל אחד בלאו אחד. וכן הסרסור שהיה ביניהם או שסיע לאחד מהם, כגון שהורה מקום להלוה ללוות או שהורה מקום להמלוה להלוות, גם כן עובר בלאו אחד – יו”ד קס

A person’s soul naturally longs for and desires money, and it is more likely that a person will fail in the prohibition of interest than other monetary prohibitions, for theft, deceit, etc… a person can watch himself that he doesn’t steal or deceive his fellowman. At times he is stopped by embarrassment or fear/awe [from violating those other prohibitions]. Which isn’t true for interest, because the borrower gives it to him in goof will, and he is happy because he found a way to borrow the money even if with interest. And also the lender thinks in his mind that he did a great favor for the borrower who can now gain through this money multiples upon multiples more than the interest. Therefore, it is very easy that a person would (G-d forbid) be tempted by the yeitzer hara to fail in this prohibition.

Therefore, our holy Torah was very strict about this prohibition, and many specific prohibitions were declared about it. The lender violates 6 prohibitions and will not arise during the resurrection of the dead, as it says (Yechezqeil 18:13), “”He gave [money] at interest and took an increase – shall he live? He shall not live.” The borrower violates three prohibitions. The scribe [who wrote up the contract], the witnesses and the cosigner each violate one prohibition. So too the broker who dealt between them, or who recommended the deal to one of them, such as if he shows the borrower where to find the loan or the lender where to lend his money, he also violated one prohibition.


A thought about interest. If the problem were general moral grounds, then the prohibition would not be limited to charging Jews interest. As we saw with the laws of speech, which included all people, or those of correcting someone else’s financial mistakes, which included all non-idolaters. After all, as we see in our text, borrowing with money is often a win-win situation. If both sides gain, how can the problem be fiscal ethics?

The text of the verse is “וְכִֽי־יָמ֣וּךְ אָחִ֔יךָ וּמָ֥טָה יָד֖וֹ עִמָּ֑ךְ … אַל־תִּקַּ֤ח מֵֽאִתּוֹ֙ נֶ֣שֶׁךְ וְתַרְבִּ֔ית… — when your brother becomes poor, and his means fail from among you … do not take from him interest or increase…” (Vayiqra 25:35-26) The source of the prohibition appears to be that brothers don’t charge each other interest. The immorality is in the lack of Jewish unity implied, not in the interest itself.

This appears to be the Qitzur’s explanation why lending with interest has up to 6 specific violations involved. Because it lacks the basic moral imperative not to take advantage of others, people lack the natural reluctance or embarassment that keeps us from most fiscal wrongs. Therefore, Hashem provided more explicit exhortations in the Torah.

This lack of it actually being a moral issue also goes some of the way to explaining our willingness to engineer a heter iska, a contract that gains many of the advantages of an interest-bearing loan, but without the prohibitions. But that will wait for next chapter.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 64

סִימָן סד – שֶׁלֹּא לַעֲשׂוֹת סְחוֹרָה בְּדָבָר הָאָסוּר

Chapter 64: Not to Conduct Business in Prohibited Items

א: כל דבר שאסור מן התורה באכילה, אע”פ שהוא מתר בהנאה, אם הוא דבר המיחד למאכל, אסור לעשות בו סחורה אם להלוות עליו. ואפלו לקנתו להאכילו לפועלו אינו יהודי, אסור. אבל דבר שאינו עומד לאכילה, כגון סוסים וחמורים, מתר לעשות בהם סחורה. וחלב גם כן מתר בסחורה, שהרי נאמר בו, [וְחֵ֤לֶב נְבֵלָה֙ וְחֵ֣לֶב טְרֵפָ֔ה] יֵעָשֶׂ֖ה לְכָל־מְלָאכָ֑ה

Anything which is Torahitically prohibited for eating, even if it it permitted for [general] benefit, if it is specifically for food, one may not do business in it or take a loan upon it [i.e. with this prohibited food as the collateral]. Even if he bought it to feed his non-Jewish worker, it is prohibited. But something which isn’t generally for eating, like horses or donkeys, one may do business with it. Prohibited fats [sheets of fat from around the kidneys, the pelvic side of the abdominal cavity and some of the fats on digestive organs from cattle, goats or sheep] are also permitted for business, because it says about it “[the fat of a dead or improperly slaughtered animal] any work may be done with it.” (Vayiqra 7:24)

ב: אם נזדמן לאדם באקראי דבר אסור, כגון, שצד דגים ועלה במצודתו דג טמא, וכן מי שנזדמנה לו נבלה וטרפה בביתו, מתר למכרן, כיון שלא נתכון לכך. וצריך למכרן מיד, ולא ימתין עד שתהא שמנה אצלו. ויכול למכרן גם על ידי שליח, אע”פ שהשליח ירויח בו. אבל לא שיקנה השליח לחלוטין, דאם כן, הוא אצלו סחורה

If someone happened upon by chance some prohibited item, for example he was fishing and a non-kosher fish was taken up in his net, or similarly someone who happened upon a naturally dead or improperly slaughtered animal in his home, he is allowed to sell them, because he didn’t intend it. And he must sell them immediately, and not wait until [a living fish or animal] was fattened up by him. He can also sell them via a messenger, even if the messenger will profit on it. However, the proxy may not buy it for [his own] re-sale, because then the messenger is conducting business in it.

ג: וכן מתר לגבות בחובו דברים טמאים וימכרם מיד, דאסור להשהותן כדי להשתכר בהם, אבל מתר להשהותן בכדי שלא יפסיד מן הקרן

Similarly, he is permitted to collect a debt with non-kosher items and sell them immediately. For it is prohibited to wait with them until he makes a profit on them, but it is permitted to wait with them so that he does not lose on the initial capital.

ד: דבר שאין אסורו אלא מדרבנן, כגון גבינות של נכרי, מתר לעשות בו סחורה

Something that is only prohibited rabbinically, such as the cheeses of a non-Jew [even real non-chalav yisrael, beyond products regulated by the FDA or similar government agencies] one may conduct business with them.


I am rushing through this chapted because it’s not really on-topic for our purposes. The idea of this series is to bolster an awareness of the Torah’s business ethical demands. Not so much the laws themselves (for which which one should consult a rabbi when questions arise), but keeping the basic notion in mind and as part of our culture that these prohbitions are no less real than those of kashrus or Shabbos. However, it didn’t seem to make sense to skip one short se’if in a string of consecutive se’ifim.

This chapter addresses the prohibition of making one’s living dealing in non-kosher food. It’s only permitted as an adjunct to trying to do legitimate business, or with respect to chelev, the particular fats of kosher domesticated mammals that are prohbited, where the verse explicitly says one may use them in other ways — so the rabbis didn’t ban business in them.

Interestingly, this prohibition is only with respect to Torahitically prohibited foods; rabbinically non-kosher food may be bought and sold. I can think of two ways of viewing that:

1- There is a general rule that the rabbis do not enact a gezeirah, a fence to protect someone from accidental violation through accident or habit, whose purpose is to protect an already existing gezeirah.  This would rule out a prohibition against selling food that the rabbis declared unkosher as part of a gezeirah, such as our case of chicken parmgan.

The only problem with this second approach is that I do not know if every rabbinic kashrus law is a gezeirah. There is another class of rabbinic legislation, one that implements the lessons gleaned from the Torah law. Gezeiros may be made to protect someone from violating one of those laws. This is discussed at more length in my post on types of halachic rulings. One would need to categorize every rabbinic law related to food to see if this simpler answer is sufficient.

2- If the previous answer doesn’t work, here’s another possibility: As per an earlier blog entry, there is a dispute as to how to view rabbinic prohibitions. Do they actually have metaphysical impact, such that eating chicken parmigan causes negative impact to the soul? Or are they pragmatic advice, tools to help avoid the metaphysical damages of Torah law, or to maximize the advantages of the Torah’s obligations?

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 63:5

ה: לא יבקש מחברו שיאכל אצלו כשהוא יודע שלא יאכל. לא יתן לו מתנה כשהוא יודע שלא יקבל, וכן כל כיוצא בזה, שהוא אחד בפה ואחד בלב. יראה לחברו שהוא מכבדו, ואין כונתו שלמה, אסור, אלא יהא תמיד פיו ולבו שוים, וינהג בשפת אמת ורוח נכון ולב טהור

Don’t invite a friend to eat by you when you know he won’t eat. Don’t offer him a gift when you know he won’t accept it. And similarly anything like it. For this is “one thing in the mouth, and another in the heart” [i.e. duplicity]. If he shows his friend that he honors him, but the intent is not whole [not genuine or not as great as the display], it is prohibited. Rather, at all times he should have his mouth and his heart in consonance, and he should conduct himself with lips of truth, a correct will/spirit, and a pure heart.


The short coda to the Amidah, “Elokai, Netzor“, written by Mar berei deRavina as a personal request following his formalized prayers (Berakhos 17b), begins with “אלהי, נצור לשוני מרע ושפתותי מדבר מרמה — my G-d, stop my tongue from evil, and my lips from speaking mduplicity.” This an adaptation of Tehillim 34:14 (“נְצֹ֣ר לְשֽׁוֹנְךָ֣ מֵרָ֑ע וּ֝שְׂפָתֶ֗יךָ מִדַּבֵּ֥ר מִרְמָֽה׃”), but where David advises the children to strive for this, Mar berei deRavina asks for G-d’s help to be able to accomplish it in his own life.

The Vilna Gaon notes that the difference between the two halves of this line (and the two haves of the next two) is whether we allow the evil to be expressed, or keep it contained within. In the first case, our language is evil. In the second, our lips, the border of our mouths, keeps the hatred within and we falsely speak words of friendship. This compounds the problem of geneivas da’as, lying, with that of violating the verse “lo sisna es achikha bilvavekha — do not hate your brother in your heart”, rather than airing grievances and working them out. (I discussed this idea at greater length last year.)

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 63:4

ד: אסור לגנב דעת הבריות – פרוש לרמות בדברים, אע”פ שאין בו חסרון ממון, אפלו דעת עובד כוכבים. ולכן אסור למכר לו בשר נבלה בחזקת שחוטה. אם מוכר איזה דבר שיש בו מום, אע”פ שהדבר שוה כמו שהוא מוכרו לו, מכל מקום צריך להודיע להלוקח את המום – ועין לקמן סימן קפ”ב סעיף ד’ – ובמתנה לכא משום גנבת דעת

It is prohibited to “steal the knowledge” of people; meaning, to mislead them with words. Even if there is no loss of money involved. Even the knowledge of idolaters.

Therefore, it is prohibited to sell him [an idolater] meat from an animal that died naturally under the presumption that it was slaughtered [according to halakhah]. If he sells any thing which has a defect, even if the item is worth the same as what he was selling it for, still he has to tell him about the defect. (See  later, 182:4)

For a gift, there is no prohibition of misleading.


We discussed this earlier, on 62:7, where I also provided the halakhah at 182:4, which Rabbi Ganzfried refers us to. From 182:4:

What is fraud? One person obtains his peer’s money with his peer’s consent, such as he has a loan or rental payment, but he doesn’t want to repay him…

Since it says “rei’ekha — your neighbor”, it is not prohibited when [the victim is] a non-Jew and there is no risk of chilul hasheim (desecrating G-d’s reputation)…

Even in a situtaiton where [the non-Jew] does not know [and thus there is no risk of chilul Hashem], it is not permitted except to avoid a loan or some other debt that he owes him. However, an object which is visible, one may not use trickery, for this is actual theft. Not only that, but even if he bought an object from him, he can’t trick him in the calculations when paying him the money, as it says “and he shall reckon with him who bought him” [the verse in question is originally about a slave]. Which applies to a non-Jew, because he only gave over the ownership of the object for a payment which is equal. Therefore, someone who tricks him in the calculation of the money, it is like he stole the object, and not like he avoided his debt.

Even geneivas da’as (stealing knowledge; i.e. lying or intentionally giving a false impression) that does not cause a loss of money, is prohibited in commerce as I wrote in chapter 63. In any case, if the non-Jew errs himself, it is permissible — if there is no chilul hasheim — not to inform him. Although it is appropriate for the Jew to tell him, “I am relying on your calculations.”

Notice the term for fraud and lying, “geneivas daas“, theft of knowledge. Halakhah is rarely structured in terms of rights, but here that seems to be the clear intent. That people have a right to knowledge, and thus intentionally misleading someone is a form of theft.

Even more interesting, it would seem from 182:4 that the right to knowledge is more enforced, at least in the case of idolaters than property is! After all, one may make money on an honest mistake made by an idolatrous non-Jew in a case where the mistake would never be caught and lead to chilul Hashem. But if the non-Jew assumes something that makes no difference to him — e.g. whether an animal he bought would be kosher for Jews — we have to clear up an error in that assumption. Implicitely causing a misunderstanding, such as being a Jew who generally sells kosher meat, is also geneivas da’as. As I noted earlier, this seriously minimizes the scope in which money can be gained through misunderstanding as well.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 63:3

ג: מי שיש לו שם כנוי לגנאי, אף- על-פי שהוא רגיל באותו כנוי, ואינו מתביש בו, אם זה כונתו לבישו, אסור לקרתו בכנוי זה, משום אונאת דברים

Someone who has an insulting nickname, even if he is already used to that nickname and isn’t embarrassed by it, if someone’s intent is to embarrass him, one may not call him by this nickname because it is hurtful speech.


Calling someone a nickname that if taken literally would be  insulting, but neither the person it refers to nor the person using it still think about what the term really means is permissible.

When it comes to trying to give offense, as should be obvious, saying “everyone does it” is no excuse. Nor is insulting someone just because you know they’ve learned to ignore this particular insult.