Volume 43 Number 69
                    Produced: Thu Jul 29  4:47:04 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Discounts for premature payments--Is it prohibited interest (4)
         [<rjhendel@...>, Gershon Dubin, Perry Zamek, Rephael]
DNA Testing
Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha
         [Ephraim Tabory]
The Kohen sign
         [Irwin Weiss]
Shtreimels, again
         [Martin Stern]


From: <rjhendel@...> <rjhendel@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 02:05:49 GMT
Subject: RE: Discounts for premature payments--Is it prohibited interest

Avi's question on whether a contract that requests payment 60 days hence
can also offer a 2% discount for immediate payment, is a whole chapter
in Laws of Loans, Rambam, Chapters 8 (and end of chapter 7)

First: As discussed in Chapter 6 (Paragraph 1) only 5 things are
BIBLICAL PROHIBITED INTEREST---offering a discount for a premature
payment is not one of these. So we are not talking about BIBLICAL

The exciting example comes in Chapters 8, Paragraph 1: Here is the basic
problem: Suppose the MARKET value of say a pen is $10.00. I write a
contract for either $10.00 now or $12.00 in 60 days (for the sale of the
pen now)

While Biblically this is NOT prohibited, it nevertheless LOOKS LIKE
PROHIBITED INTEREST. After all, I given you a $10 pen now and you return
to me after 60 days, $10 (the worth of the pen) plus an extra $2.00. It
thus looks AS IF I loaned you $10 of goods at 20% interest.

Hence we have a Rabbinic injunction against MARKING UP over Market

Chapter 8 of Rambam while not the final say in Jewish law is an
excellent summary of EXCEPTIONS to this rule. I frequently advocate
using Rambam TO KNOW THE ISSUES before reading the code of Jewish law.

Having carefully shown the possibility of prohibition I will now express
my personal opinion that Avis case is compeltely premissable. After all:
I give you a $10 pen now and allow you 60 days to pay it---but if you
pay me now you can give me $8.00 (20% discount) or $9.80 (2%
discount). Using the logic above there is NO APPEARANCE OF A LOAN FOR
WHICH MORE IS GIVEN--if you give me $9.80 now there has been no loan
while if you give me $10.00 in 60 days you have given me the WORTH OF
THE PEN (Also See ChApter 8: Paragraph 4).

In general, while I encourage this thread to continue, the laws of
interest are very tricky---one has to consider all types of viewpoints
and many many parameters.

I hope the above clarifies some of the issues involved

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 23:32:13 -0400
Subject: Discounts for premature payments--Is it prohibited interest

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>

> Speaking with a few people in the private business community, a fairly
> common practice in some areas is that if the standard contract terms
> for the listed price is net 60 days (i.e. you have 60 days from receipt
> of product till you have to pay the vendor), the vendor may offer 2%
> discount for immediate payment.
> The question is: is this a form of ribis (interest) and would be
> forbidden if both parties are Jewish, or is this just a negotiation 
> of price and terms and is permitted.>>

In this context I highly recommend the book "The Laws of Ribbis" by
Rabbi Yisroel Reisman (of "Navi shiur" fame), published by Artscroll,
which has many many practical examples from everyday life and business

He says on page 114-115 that the arrangement described is forbidden.  Of
course, one could pay the cash price, but the credit price entails
paying money for the privilege of paying later, which is by definition

This would apply to two-tier pricing at gas stations as well, if the
station is owned by a Jews, since the higher credit price is the fee for
extending the loan (credit).

Some poskim cited in a footnote on p. 115 permit this arrangement IF it
is clear that the credit price is the true market value; this is in turn
subject to restrictions (see footnote there).

It would appear that it is a rare situation in which this two tier
pricing is permitted, in particular since a preponderance of poskim
cited in the footnote on the following page (116) say that the leniency
cited is not lehalacha even if the market price is absolutely clearly
the credit price.

Again, I highly recommend the book for its practical everyday value and


From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 08:33:52 +0200
Subject: Re: Discounts for premature payments--Is it prohibited interest

I don't think it is forbidden.

Here are two scenarios related to the purchase of an item (as I recall when 
I was learning Baba Bathra):

1. You can pay 100 shekels for the item, but if you pay in 4 installments, 
your total will be 120 shekels.

2. You can pay in 4 installments of 30 shekels each, but if you wish to pay 
in full at once, you can pay 100 shekels (and save 20 shekels).

Case 1 is forbidden, as there is an addition of interest - the price is 
100, and the extra 20 is interest.
Case 2 is permitted - the price is actually 120 (4 x 30), but the seller is 
willing to waive 20 shekels for immediate payment.

I think the case of 2% discount for immediate payment is very much like
case 2, and so not problematic. The operative principle here is
"mechilah" - the seller is willing to waive part of the debt. (I'm not
sure whether this would work for things like pre-payment or
down-payments ahead of delivery, and the like.)

The opposite ("late payments will incur an additional fee/interest")
would be problematic, even if it is "normal" business practice. Any
comments on this point?

Perry Zamek

From: Rephael <raphi@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 04:16:40 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Discounts for premature payments--Is it prohibited interest


A price negotiation in which the buyer gives an amount of money in order
that the seller agrees to delay the payment is ribit. The simmetric
case, i.e. the seller agrees to give up an amount of money so that the
buyer pays earlier is forbidden too. This issue is delt by many poskim.

The solution I know and have seen practiced is to have the selling
company sign and publish an "Heter Iskah".  The basic principle of this
idea (first introduced by Rabbi Menachem Mendel from Cracow 400 years
ago) is that the company declares that all discounts which are given to
clients for immediate payment are not given as a plain reward for
anticipated payment; rather, they are ment as shutfut (partnership): the
seller gives this discount to the buyer in order to help him reinvest
this amount in its business and make more profit. The discount is the
seller's benefit from the partnership.

There is more to this, of course, and if you want to see more complicate
details you can check the following links (in Hebrew):

Tech Data Israel: www.techdata.co.il/iska.htm
Includes explanation page and their official Heter
Iskah document.

Keter: www.keter.org/faq.asp?cat=6&sub=49
(registration required)

In Eretz Israel, many companies have chosen to make an Heter Iskah in
order to be able to sell to the frum community: banks, gaz companies,
electricity, etc., so you can find additional versions all over the Web.

I hope this helps.

Rephael Cohen


From: HB <halfull2@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 20:35:21 -0400
Subject: DNA Testing

>Although this is an interesting halachik question, I think we should
>back up a bit and look at a larger context.


>1 What genetic testing should people of marriageable age do prior to
>entering into a "search" (dating or shiddach) for a spouse.

It appears to me that with the enormous difficulties encountered today
in having shidduch dating set up, if the young couples waited to have
"genetic compatibility matching" of any sort done prior to the start of
dating the entire religeon might disappear in one generation. My
children underwent the Dor Yesharim testing but the "genetic
compatibility matching" is normally done prior to getting married- not
prior to the first date.

>(Is it me or does there seem to be less publicity, etc., about such
>things as TaySachs, today, re: when this was first discovered.)

Dor Yesharim testing is being used by countless couples

>2 What "disclosure" rules should apply -- and when.

Dor Yesharim was created so as to avoid attaching a stigma or disclosure
as a result of "defective" genes.

>3 What decision rules should apply -- for example: if sound science
>tells us that based on their individual genetic tests that persons A & B
>have an X % chance of having a child with certain condition - what
>should they do (A) prior to possible dating, marriage, or (B) if this
>information comes forth after they are married, or (C) as above after

(A) was answered above.
(B)(C) CYLOR or search your heart.

>These are questions that aren't answered "al regel echad" and in the
>latter cases CYLOR (who will likely see his Rebbe.)


From: Ephraim Tabory <tabore@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 12:22:54 +0200
Subject: Re: Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha

> someone mentioned to me a custom that prior to a simcha (weddings, and
> maybe also other types), the ba'alei simcha go to the gravesites of
> deceased relatives to "invite" them to partake in the simcha.  This
> struck me as sort of odd (or maybe the explanation is just
> oversimplified), so was wondering if anyone else is familiar with this
> custom and can provide a source for it.

I was recently at the Etz Chaim cemetery outside of Bet Shemesh, and
noticed a wedding invitation on top of a monument. The invitation was
held down by a bunch of stones. I assumed that it would not be invading
privacy to read the deceased's mail in this case, and found that the
wedding was of the grand child of the deceased (as it happens, one of
the parents and my spouse were once friends, back in the old
country). The invitation was replete with a stamped addressed reply
card. (Very inappropriate in this case, because the American postage
stamp would not be honored by the Israeli postal authority.) Of course I
replaced the invitation, and added a stone of my own. And my heartfelt
congratulations to the couple, and my admiration for a family that
obviously felt so close to do such a thing.

Ephie Tabory


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 06:56:08 -0400
Subject: The Kohen sign

The issue of who is a Kohen is troublesome.  There are many generations
separating us from Aharon & his sons, and it is very difficult to know
with certainty, all of the time, who is, and who is not a Kohen.  Short
of DNA testing, particularly when one moves to another community far
away, one would hope that people are honest and do not create even more
problems than those created by the passage of time.  In our shul there
is a guy name "Cohen" who insists that he is not a Kohen.  We have no
reason to disbelieve him, of course.  Many persons changed their names
upon arrival to the US, for example.  In the US there are many Ba'alei
Teshuva, who have descended from several generations of persons who were
quite secular and may not have known and certainly didn't care, if they
were Kohanim or not.  There is (at least to me) a big difference between
someone honestly mistaking his status, and someone intentionally
claiming status fraudulently.  As usual, when in doubt, consult your
local rabbinic authority.  



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 12:11:06 +0100
Subject: Re: Shtreimels, again

on 26/7/04 10:39 am, Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...> wrote:

>If there are paintings in existence showing Polish kings wearing
>shtraymlekh I prefer that evidence to my (or Yossi Ginzberg's)
>imagination.  Moreover, I know of no evidence that all rebbeim started
>wearing them "simultaneously".

> The reason I say simultaneous is that the anti- chassidic literature of
> the Gra's era objects in general to all the trappings, and I have never
> seen any differentiation there between this or that Rebbe who had
> different customs.
> The vast literature of the many and varous disputes between different
> groups of chassidim leads me to believe that were it not a
> simultaneously-accepted custom, there would have been polemics written
> against it, as there were against the Shpolyer Zeide, Sadigerer Rebbe,
> and the Sanzer Rebbe, among others.  In all those cases differences far
> less visible than a large fur hat were major issues.

There is one point that seems to have eluded almost every contributor to
this particular discussion, that the streimel (or some similar form of
headgear like the spoddek) were worn by Jews generally in Eastern Europe
(if they could afford them!) in the 18th century and were not restricted
to chassidim. The same applies to the rest of the so-called chassidic

The Mitnagdim stopped dressing in this manner because of decrees of the
Czarist government in the early 19th century banning 'Jewish' dress and
compelling Jews to dress in either the 'Russian' or the 'German'
style. This decree was enforced fairly rigorously in the Russian
provinces (Baltic States, Byelarus etc.) but not in Congress Poland
where the Russians had enough trouble with Polish unrest and were a bit
easier on the, by then, mainly Chassidic Jews there who treated it as a
case of yehareg ve'al ya'avor. This is why Litvaks and, for that matter,
Russian Chassidim (i.e.  Chabad) do not wear streimlakh etc.

A strong proof of this thesis is that the Mitnagdim who went to live in
Erets Yisrael at the end of 18th and beginning of the 19th century
before the Czarist decrees, and founded the community of Peirushim, did
wear what is now considered to be chassidic attire and still do so in
the Old Yishuv community of Jerusalem.

Therefore, it is simply nonsense to talk about Chassidim adopting a form
of dress. Any objections raised by the Mitnagdim were not to the dress
style as such but, rather, to the excessive emphasis placed on it by
what they saw as a deviationist movement which exhibited laxity in many
much more important matters.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 43 Issue 69