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There are many seforim stores that have a minyan for Mincha in the store. If someone were to use a siddur from the store in order to daven with that minyan in a way that there's no perceived damage on the siddur, and nowhere is there a written policy to not use the siddurim for Mincha purposes.

  1. Can a siddur be used Lechatchila?

  2. Can the owner compel him to buy it now?

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    If the owner allows it, what's the question? And if the owner doesn't allow it, what's the question? – Double AA Mar 24 at 23:13
  • Do you specifically mean for a Mitzvah or using just about anything, like coming toa tool store to fix your things. – Al Berko Mar 25 at 0:29
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    Dude. I asked a serious straightforward question that actually happened to me today. And your just editing it to your own question, and then asking me questions on your question. Next time don't edit my question. It was a legitimate question. @AlBerko – Moshe Mar 25 at 0:32
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    What's wrong with saying "dude". And I do understand it's depth. I just was wondering if anyone here knew a tshuva that states a similar case... @AlBerko – Moshe Mar 25 at 1:03
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    @Moshe you are welcome to edit further or rollback the edits if you don't like them. There is a rollback "button" next to each older version of the question when you click on "edited X hours/days ago" on the left of your name – mbloch Mar 25 at 3:42
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No. One who borrows an item without permission from the owner is conidered a gazlan (שואל שלא מדעת גזלן), and like all cases of stealing, must return the item (והשיב את הגזילה אשר גזל). He is not required to purchase the item or to pay for the usage. If any damage was caused, however, he must pay the full value of the product, not just the amount the item depreciated through the damage.

  • I would add two things - 1. The books ARE for sale and once someone raises them for his USE he acquires them 2. Your rule probably only applies to occasional use, but not repetitive. 3. It might also sound as Midas Sdom - depreciating value in small, under a Prutah steps - think about 10 Miniyanim every day. – Al Berko Mar 24 at 22:33
  • @AlBerko 1. Not necessarily. Only if he takes it with the intention to acquire it; what if he takes it with the intention to use and return? He’s a שואל שלא מדעת then, as the answerer correctly states. 2. AFAIK there’s no limit to how often one can be a שואל שלא מדעת on the same item, just as there’s no limit to how often one acquired an item he repeatedly steals and returns. 3. is your only entirely valid point here, whether we can be כופה על מדת סדום, particularly in light of the Halacha that we presume people want others to do Mitzvos with their stuff. – DonielF Mar 24 at 23:47
  • @DonielF Here's something I'm constantly stressing - everything depends on סמיכות דעת, i.g. דינא דמלכותא - whatever is accepted in that community/neighborhood/city/country. My points present clear cuts for such סמיכות דעת, for example, I remember my wife coming back from America in the 80s and wondering that you can return just about anything you buy, but in Israel, you can't. Samen here, 1 can be a consideration of distinguishing between a "try before you buy" and a real use. – Al Berko Mar 24 at 23:54
  • @DonielF How about borrowing a hammer, a cordless driver or a stroller? #2 can also be a consideration for calling it a purchase. Think about one who tastes olives or nuts - once or twice is OK but 5-10 times cannot be called "tasting" – Al Berko Mar 25 at 0:00
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    Even a mildly astute customer could recognize when a book has been used. There could be fingerprints, dirt or slightly folded / crinkled pages, etc. Even if none of these are noticeable, it could create a sort of lifnei iver situation b/c a buyer expects to buy a new book that hasn't been regularly used. Thus, the owner shouldn't allow anyone to use siddurim that he professes to sell as new. In such cases, the problem is not the davener - it'w with the owner. – DanF Mar 25 at 1:19
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The first question: Obviously, we can present two contradicting views:

  1. The owner is interested in such behavior because it increases the clientele (מחלקים קליות ואגוזים), or he might intentionally offer his books for such a use. Therefore he allows such a use לכתחילה and he's Mochel (forgives) the damages.

  2. The owner is not interested and protesting to such use and considers that a Gezel but does not sue the users in court.

The resolution of such a conflict would be:

  1. A person should always be aware of the possibility of Gezel, which is Deorayso and a very serious sin. So when in doubt, (as I understand you were in your case) one should definitely ask for explicit permission from the store owner. Since we rule that ספק דאורייתא לחומרא.

    This also holds if you see others grabbing sforim freely, they might have a personal arrangement with the owner.

  2. Where (local neighborhood/city/country) it is customary to arrange the Tefillos in book stores intentionally to draw attention or increase sales, this behavior is allowed לכתחילה.

The second question:

Theoretically, according to #1, the owner's claim might be justified, because unlike the simple case of שואל שלא מדעת (borrowing without permission) which [only] applies for items that are not for sale, for items in the store the very intention to use them shows the intention of owning.

Think about entering a pharm opening a perfume and using one once on yourself. Your intention to use is automatically translated into a purchase.

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