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Lending Money For A Wedding and Then Attending the Wedding

Question:

I loaned a person approximately USD 5000 as he was making a wedding. We have been friends for years – part of the same kehilla but I wouldn’t be invited to weddings. Since the loan he feels very indebted and it feels like we are breaching Ribis D’varim. 1/ How long after the loan does Ribis apply. Practically the friendship may be stronger. 2/ Should the loan be converted to a gift, and he can pay back if he wants to as a gift. Would this change the ribis problem as the closeness is now from the gift?

Answer:

If he would not have invited you to the wedding without the loan, you may not attend the wedding. The invitation would constitute Ribbis Devorim, but partaking of hospitality at the wedding would be proper Ribbis.

Once the loan has been repaid, you may receive benefits or favours from the borrower if sufficient time has passed, and the size of the favour or gift is small enough that one would not connect it to the loan.

If you were absolutely certain that the invitation was not because he feels indebted but rather simply because you have become closer, albeit via the loan, it may be permitted, but this is very difficult to define, and seems not to be the case in your case.

Converting the loan into a gift, from a practical point of view is inadvisable. Circumstances that apply today may not apply tomorrow. Even if the loan was genuinely converted into a gift, with no obligation whatsoever to return it, there would still be a problem of Ribbis, which applies even after a loan was repaid, unless the time or size of the gift indicated otherwise, as explained above. (Perhaps one could argue that if the loan was converted into a gift then any favours given would be for the sizeable gift rather than for the one-time loan.)

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