The Jewish Prohibition of Interest: Themes, Scopes, and Contemporary Applications

Daniel Z. Feldman

in The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195398625
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Jewish Prohibition of Interest: Themes, Scopes, and Contemporary Applications

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The prohibitions of taking and paying interest are the essence of this article. The prohibition of taking interest, also known as ribbit, is one of the most complex areas of Jewish law. The complexity of this realm is multileveled. At first glance, ribbit and its basic intent seems simple to comprehend. It appears to address the widely condemned practice of usury, also known as predatory lending, where a lender exploits a borrower's desperate need for assistance by lending at rates of interest that are excessive and often unfeasible. However, a close look at the details of the prohibition will reveal that concern for predatory lending is insufficient to explain the Torah's ban against interest. This article also discusses the challenge of categorizing ribbit. This article further elaborates upon the effects of prohibition on monetary regulation. Other applications and extensions of the prohibition are explained and the prohibition is also compared to receive and return interest.

Keywords: Jewish prohibitions; ribbit; Jewish law; return interest

Article.  7649 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Industry Studies ; Financial Markets

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