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Ribbis: Matters Of Interest

Ribbis: Matters of Interest


May the borrower thank the lender for the loan? May he greet him warmly upon meeting him in the street?

Does it make any difference if he thanked or greeted him during the life of the loan or afterward?

As discussed in the previous chapter, Chazal forbade the borrower to perform favors for the lender, even where there is no financial value to the favor. Thanking the lender is similarly prohibited, and is considered ribbis devarim (ribbis through words).

However, many poskim permit a simple “thank you,” especially if the borrower explains that he is merely thanking for the effort involved.

Praising the lender or giving him a mi shebeirach or a beracha during the life of the loan, however, is definitely ribbis devarim. It is very important to be aware of this.

The prohibition of greeting the lender has its source in a Yerushalmi which clearly states that this applies to one who had not been accustomed to greeting the lender before. Hence, one who is friendly with the lender and is accustomed to greeting him may continue to do so during the loan period.

Poskim permit the borrower to return the greeting if he was greeted by the lender first, even if he had not been accustomed to doing so before.

Common courtesies, such as holding a door open for the lender or telling him the time, are always permitted.

After one has repaid the loan, he may greet the lender even if he had not been accustomed to doing so before.

This is a special leniency in the area of ribbis devarim, namely, that it carries with it no prohibition of ribbis me’ucheres. The logic for this leniency is that otherwise no one would ever be allowed to greet someone who had lent them money, even after having paid up.