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In Halacha, it is prohibited for Jews to give their money to gentiles to lend at interest to other Jews (Tosefta Bava Metzia 5:8).

However, if a majority gentile-owned bank has a majority gentile clientele, but lends to some Jews with interest, is it permitted for Jews to invest in it?

The reason It may be permitted is if the minority of the clientele are Jews and the minority of the investors are Jews then you can have a Chazaka the ribbit Jewish investors get isn’t from Jewish clients.

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  • Same question would apply to shops that open on Shabbos or sell milk-and-meat products judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/6753/investing-in-halacha/…
    – AKA
    Feb 11 at 17:45
  • A good point, and would be relevant to taking a significant share in a bank (and I believe some of the sources in the link discuss the point). However for a retail investor the question is similar, as you can see from the linked answer
    – AKA
    Feb 12 at 20:22
  • "Chazaka/Rov" wouldn't necessarily help - we know for certain that the bank has Jewish customers who have paid it (and thus its shareholders) interest. A more complex argument would be needed, whereby the interest from Jews is somehow attributed to the non-Jewish shareholders, which is difficult to understand but has been advanced historically
    – AKA
    Feb 12 at 20:25

1 Answer 1

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You are really asking if Jews can invest in Bank of America or Citibank. As we see, this is indeed the case from many.

din.org explains why

According to a number of poskim including R’ M. Feinstein R’ Vozner and R’ Y. Belski zt”l, when someone buys stock in a company, if he has only a minor percentage of shares in the company, and his “vote” isn’t going to make any difference because the company is owned by a majority of non- Jewish owners, that it is not considered as if he “owns” the company.

Rather it is looked at as merely as a business deal with the company, that he invested in the company and is making profit from the company, but not from the actual business that the company is doing.

This issue comes up in a number of areas, for example, regarding stocks in a bank that lends money to Jews with interest, companies that sell food on Pesach, and companies that deal with non-kosher food. Although there are other poskim that disagree with this, this is the minhag of many.

See there for further sources.

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  • For large public companies the argument above holds. However the edited question seems to be specifically about rubbish, and would be relevant for a controlling shareholder
    – AKA
    Feb 12 at 20:27
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    I don't think the question discusses a controlling shareholder (a "majority gentile-owned " bank) but you are right - it would be very different. Still in practice investing in stock markets is nearly never about controlling positions
    – mbloch
    Feb 13 at 4:15

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