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Paying back loan, ribbis

Question:

B”H
Kavod HaRav,
Thank you sincerely for helping me with these questions. Regarding ribbis: years back, a Jewish relative paid some of my rent and I intended to pay her back. I did pay her back over the years some of that money, however because this occurred before I knew about ribbis, it was done very informally and not with the most accurate records on my end. I do not know if I paid all the money back. This relative said recently that as far as she is concerned, I am “paid up” and she is not seeking any of that money back. I would like to do the right thing, however my concern is that because I do not know the exact amount, that I could accidentally transgress ribbis by over-giving. How should I proceed? Thank you

 

Answer:

You are asking a good question.

The halacha is that when you owe someone money but don’t know how much it is, even if you pay them back more than you actually owe, it isn’t considered ribbis, and permitted. The reason is because you are not paying the extra money because of the loan, and because you were holding the other person’s money. Rather because you want to make sure you are not stealing from them. You would do the same thing even if there was no loan here. For example, if you bought something from the store and you aren’t sure if you paid the whole amount, you would also add to it to ensure that you aren’t stealing. This is not considered ribbis, and permitted.

Best wishes

Sources:

Raavad -Tomim Daim 60, Bris Pinchos 3-19.

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