– A property is sold with a finance clause so that the purchaser will make an inital deposit and the property will pass into the purchaser’s possession on the settlement date.

– The contract of sale states that if the purchaser chooses not to make complete payment on the settlement date then they will have the option to pay off the balance owing on the property over time with interest.

– There is a 25% chance that the purchaser of the property will be a (non-religious) Jew who would not be interested in discussing a heter iska with the vendor.

1. Does the vendor need to be concerned about the fact that a Jew may buy the property and end up paying interest?

2. If the vendor does need to be concerned about this possibility what wording can they place in the document of sale that would obliviate the problem of ribis without making it obvious that there is a religious connotation to the arrangement.

Answer:

In principle, in a place or among a group where the majority is non-Jewish, there is no need to be concerned for a Jew turning up. This is true concerning, for instance, leaving a vending machine on Shabbos in a particular neighborhood: If the majority is non-Jewish, one does not have to be concerned for a Jew making a purchase from the machine.

However, if the purchaser turns out to be Jewish (say, he tells you), there would be a problem of ribis in the contract, and the solution would be reference to a heter iska.

I’m not sure how this can be done without implying some “religious” function of the heter iska. Although no “religious” connotation has to be mentioned, the very inclusion of a clause referring to a heter iska will raise eyebrows, and there won’t be any possible explanation other than the avoidance of ribis.

Best wishes.

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