Question:

Dear Rabbi,

We have just bought a new apartment in Tel Aviv. Since we could not pay out the whole sum right away, we took a mortgage from a Mizrachi bank in Ramat Gan. We didn’t think to ask about a heter iska assuming that all bank in Israel had one.

I told this to my friend (a guy who loves scandals…) and he started getting me all nervous. He told me it was not enough, and that I had to sign on a separate heter iska with the bank when I took out the mortgage, and besides, if I am ever late on my electric, gas or water bills, I would be paying forbidden interest. Is that true?

Answer:

Mazal tov on your new apartment. You have just performed the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael. May the Geula come speedily in our times.

The general heter iska that banks and companies have is sufficient and can be relied upon, provided that they indeed have one. Some have the custom not to relay on a heter iska that is signed with companies which take people to civil courts but the general accepted custom is to be lenient and to rely on it.

Signing on a separate heter iska form has no real value. The main thing is to understand the concept – this is not a loan but a deposit or joint investment.

Sources:

See questions 67949, 52398, 66652 at www.din.org.il

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