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Buying from Jewish Establishments

Is there a Halacha that state one is obligated to support a Jewish owned business by purchasing either goods or services?

Is there an obligation for one to at least give the Jew an opportunity to provide a quote for the goods or services?

Is it an obligation for one who is financially comfortable and can well afford to pay more so that a Jew has the business? And at what increased cost?

There may be other related questions that I can not think of, but please add in the reply.

Thank you for your help.




One should prefer the Jewish business over the non-Jewish business, for goods, services, property, and all matters.

This obligation applies to a small increase in cost, and not to a major difference. Personal circumstances can also be taken into consideration: For a store owner, whose livelihood depends on buying and selling, a small difference can be highly significant, and his case would be different from the regular consumer.

Please see below for sources and more details.


The primary source that relates to these questions is the teaching of the Sifra (Behar 3): “From where do we learn that when one sells one should sell only to one’s fellow – since it says ‘When you shall sell a sale to your fellow.’ And from where do we learn that when one buys one should buy only from one’s fellow – since it says ‘or buy from the hand of your fellow.'”

 It is noteworthy that the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch do not mention this Halacha. It is however cited by the Rema in his responsa (9), in which he discusses a case where a non-Jewish publisher rivalled a Jewish scholar and sold the same work at a substantially cheaper price. Despite the difference in price, the Rema ruled – based on the Halacha of the Sifra – that it was forbidden to buy the book from the non-Jewish publisher in favour of the Jewish one. The ruling of the Ramo is cited by several Poskim after him, and has yet earlier sources in the Rashbatz (3:151) and the Chinuch (337).

HaRav Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvos ve’Hanhagos 2:724) takes the ruling of the Ramo at face value, which implies that one is obliged to buy from a Jewish establishment even though there is a considerable monetary difference. This is also implied by the Chasam Sofer (CM 79, Pesachim 21b), the Chikrei Lev (CM 139), and the Minchas Yitzchak (3:129).

However, Rav Shternbuch cites a ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (CM 175:41) which appears to be in direct conflict with the Rema. The Shulchan Aruch teaches that one may sell one’s house to a non-Jew if the price he offers is greater than the price offered by a rival Jew. This objection is also raised by the Maharsham (Mishpat Shalom CM 199).

Moreover, the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch goes undisputed by the Rema, which implies his agreement to the ruling and a contradiction to the ruling of the above responsa. The simple resolution to this is that the teaching of the Sifra is not a strict “halachah”, but rather a lesson in the proper way in which one should behave. The Gemoro (Bechoros 13) extracts a different lesson from the same verse, indicating that the lesson of the Sifra is not the principle intent of the verse, and the Pesikta (Vayikra 25:14) mentions the same teaching as a tenet of derech eretz.

This is perhaps the reason that this halachah goes unmentioned by the Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch, and almost all early authorities. Even the Chinuch, who does mention it, slots it in to the laws of ona’ah as an ‘additional’ teaching of Chazal, which is suggestive that it does not carry the weight of a Torah prohibition. Although the Rema in his responsum cites the ruling as halachah, is should be noted that this was brought only as one of four reasons to forbid purchasing the book from the non-Jewish publisher.

See also Ahavas Chessed Chap.5 note 12, who raises the contradiction between the above-mentioned rulings, and see ibid. 5:7, citing from To’afos Re’em.

Assuming that one must, or at least shoud prefer the Jewish establishment, the question is how much of a loss one should be prepared to incur for the sake of so doing.

The Chafetz Chaim (Ahavas Chessed 5:5-7 and note 9) states that as ‘simple’ that the ruling of the Sifra applies only to a small discrepency in prices, and not to a substantial discrepancy. This is a novel approach to the Rema, who appears to rule stringently even regarding a large discrepancy in price, as other authorities appear to imply (such as the above-mentioned poskim).

The reasoning behind the assumption of the Chafetz Chaim might derive from the teaching of Tosafos (Avodah Zarah 20a) that one is not obligated to give gifts to a Jew rather than sell to a non-Jew. Tosafos thus conclude that the teaching of the Gemara of giving to a Ger Toshav before selling to a non-Jew refers to a case where only a minor loss in involved.

Based on this, the Minchas Yitzchak (3:129) concludes that when a large loss is involved there is room for leniency in buying from non-Jewish stores, in accordance with the ruling of the Ahavas Chessed. Quantifying a ‘large loss’ though is not simple, and the Minchas Yitzchak assumes it to be a sixth of the total sum, though he adds that there is room to differentiate in this between someone rich and someone poor.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (YD 3:93) however implies that the loss is not quantifiable in percentages, but rather that one is not obliged to incur any loss that is considered ‘significant’. This too may be relative to the wealth of the consumer.

The Minchas Yitzchak notes further that the above debate does not apply to a case in which the Jewish establishment is undergoing financial hardship. In this case, there would be a special mitzvah of buying from the Jewish establishment, and the difference in price can be paid with tzedakah money. As the Shulchan Aruch teaches (Yoreh De’ah 249:6), this is in fact the most worthy of the six levels of giving charity.

Best wishes.


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