Hebrew | Francais


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Ki Tisa 5784

Ask the Rabbi: Ribbit on More that is Worth the Same

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: During my learning, the following question came up. May I borrow a bag of potato chips in Manhattan, where it sells for $1, to pay back two bags of potato chips in Lakewood, where they sell for 50 cents each? Is this Biblically prohibited, Rabbinically prohibited, or permitted?


Answer: We will use your assumption that the prices given are for each area, not only given stores.

Do we care what the two bags to be returned cost in Lakewood, where they will be returned, or in Manhattan, where the loan was made? The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 173:17) rules that if Reuven lends a measure of fruit to Shimon where they are cheap and is to give back that measure where they are expensive, it is permitted only if Shimon already had that fruit in the second place at the time of the loan. The Machaneh Ephraim (Ribbit 22) assumes that this case has the potential for ribbit k’tzutza (rk Torah-level ribbit violation) based on the added value in the new place (see there how Shimon’s ownership of fruit in the second place helps). This indicates that the critical place for each item, the loan and return, is where it is given.

Your case is a variation of what the gemara (see Bava Metzia 44b) calls se’ah b’se’ah (=sbs) – when one lends an amount of a commodity in exchange for the same amount of that commodity later. It is forbidden Rabbinically, out of concern that at the time of the return, the commodity’s price might be higher, making the extra value ribbit. In our case, although the plan is to return chips of the same value that was received, the price of two bags in Lakewood might later exceed the $1 the bag in Manhattan was worth at the time of the loan. If our case only involves the Rabbinic issue of sbs, any of three areas of leniency might permit it: yesh lo, yatza hasha’ar, and neighbors who are not particular with each other (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, YD 162:1-3; see explanations in Living the Halachic Process II, F-5.)

This case differs from sbs in that more of the commodity is to be returned than was given in the first place, which is generally rk (see Vayikra 25:37). But is it really a problem if the value is the same!?

A critical question is why sbs is not rk if the price does go up. 1) The Rosh (Shut 108:15) posits that it is not rk when one returns effectively the same thing he received. 2) The Ramban (Bava Metzia 60b) and other Rishonim hold that according to Torah law, the time of the loan determines whether the loan violates ribbit. A subsequent rise in price is impactful only regarding Rabbinic law. 3) It is unclear that the future will bring profit to the lender (Taz, YD 162:1; see variation on this in Netivot Shalom 162:1).

According to the Ramban and the Taz, given the expectations, there was no monetary benefit (which is what is important for them) at the time of the loan, nor was it certain for the future. The Rosh, though, stresses the equivalence of the commodity in sbs, so that in our case, if the price rises, the increase in both quantity and worth makes it rk. If the value remains stable, it is unclear whether an increased volume with the same value makes it rk, and it might depend on the language used (see Chavot Da’at 161:1).

I have not found halachic discussion of this case, and it is difficult to extrapolate based on the fundamental concepts, especially when there could also be Rabbinic prohibitions. So we will not try to give a p’sak for this theoretical question but will give general advice regarding such questions of sbs. If objects of small value are involved, it is prudent to say the recipient is not required to return anything (most people’s propriety make them want to return), in which case it is permitted to give even clearly more than he received (see Rama, Orach Chayim 170:13). If one is unwilling to take the chance of losing the money, he can make it a loan of the dollar value of what was given. Then, the borrower can give as much of the commodity as that amount of money can buy (see Brit Yehuda 17:(14)) when/where it is returned but not (noticeably) more value than he received.

Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther
Yerachmiel ben Zlotta Rivka

Tal Shaul ben Yaffa

Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland


Prof. Yisrael Aharoni z"l

Kislev 14, 5783


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

 Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9
 ,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782


Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20


Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781


R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


MrsSara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780


R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


MrsSara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780


R 'Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777


R' Abraham & Gita Klein z"l

Iyar 18,  /5779Av 4


Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton) Polin z"l
Tammuz 19, 5778


R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781


Nina Moinester z"l

Nechama Osna bat

Yitzhak Aharon & Doba

Av 30, 5781


Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum z"l

Adar II 17, 5782


Mrs. Julia Koschitzky z"l

Adar II 18, 5782


Mrs. Leah Meyer z"l

Nisan 27, 5782


Mr. Shmuel & Rivka Brandman z"l

Tevet 16 5783/ Iyar 8, 5781


Rabbi Yosef Mordechai Simcha

ben Bina Stern z"l

21 Adar I, 5774


Hemdat Yamim
is endowed by
Les z"l & Ethel Sutker
of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
Louis and Lillian Klein z”l

site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.