I was told that if you borrow a car from a friend, it's courteous to return it washed, and with a full tank of gas (even if the car was dirty and had an empty tank when you borrowed it). Is there any problem here of ribis/usury/interest on a loan?

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    Is the prohibition on paying ribis, or on charging it? I thought the latter, meaning that if the owner of the car didn't stipulate and I filled the tank of my own free will, how could there be a problem? – Monica Cellio Oct 7 '11 at 15:54
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    Monica, IIRC from Sefer HaChinuch, Rambam and the like, it's prohibited to charge, pay, authorize -- even to witness a document that sets up a loan between two Jews with prohibited terms of interest. – Shalom Oct 7 '11 at 16:39
  • Hence even if the lender doesn't care, there could still be a violation taking place. – Shalom Oct 7 '11 at 16:40
  • On the contrary, it's hakarat haTov, and as such, is a good thing. – Shmuel Dec 13 '11 at 4:15
  • @ShmuelL, wonderful -- but first we have to establish that it's within the bounds of halachic permissibility! Once it's been done so (see below), then I certainly agree it's a good thing. – Shalom Dec 13 '11 at 7:55

Ribis is not on an Item that you are going to to return the very same item itself, so essential Ribis is only on Loans of money or things of Monetary value, not of items where you return the actual item itself.

To illustrate for example borrowing eggs(this is Monetary Value) and returning more eggs since there you are lending the value of the item not the actual eggs it is not allowed again monetary value=Ribis. That is even if the price of sugar goes up from when you borrowed it the problem of Ribis applies. so you are allowed to borrow the car and fill the tank.

For a more in Depth treatment see Here:


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    Didn't you also borrow the gas to use? – YDK Jul 7 '10 at 14:22
  • Thanks. So the prohibition is to borrow, consume, and return more of the same stuff (be it cash or eggs) as replacement. The Artscroll book linked (p. 195) cites YD176:1, I could even charge a rental fee for a wad of cash to be used as a prop in a play if the same wad is to be returned, not consumed and replaced. So here I'm borrowing and returning the same car, not consuming and replacing it. The car is the main thing, and the extra gas is the rental gratuity; this isn't intended as a gasoline-consumption-replacement agreement.) See also aishdas.org/avodah/vol10/v10n121.shtml – Shalom Jul 7 '10 at 14:43
  • YDK, see the links. The gas isn't the main thing. But some say you should specify "the extra gas is gratuity for lending me the car." – Shalom Jul 7 '10 at 14:44
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    so you read the footnote in the book? so there he answers that it is clear it is done in gratitude for the car not the Gasoline so hence it is fine he does bring down the Chayeh Halevi who says you shold state it explicitly – SimchasTorah Jul 7 '10 at 14:45
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9886. – msh210 Oct 7 '11 at 15:17

Even if the borrower did not return more gas than he received there would still be a question concerning returning the same amount of gas as was "borrowed", since gas is a consumable item and when someone borrows a consumable item, even if it is to return the same amount there is an issue called "seah b'seah". This is a rabbinic prohibition based on the concern that the value of the item borrowed may increase between the time of borrowing and the time of returning. Thus if a price increase occurred, then even returning the same quantity as was taken would be prohibited because of the increase of value. Based on this, the Chachamim prohibited borrowing any consumable item and returning the same amount as was taken, even if no price increase occurs, because of a concern that one may return the same amount even if a price increase did occur. Thus, if someone borrowed (or rented) a car, a question arises as to why he may return the car even with the same amount as gas as was in the car at the time of borrowing or renting it, (as is the practice with all car rental companies). Why does this not a violate the concept of "seah b'seah"?

  • First of all, I’m pretty sure se’ah b’se’ah is from the Torah, not Rabbinic. Second of all, as I’ve mentioned on other posts of yours, your answers could be greatly improved by including sources, especially as Eizehu Neshech is a difficult perek to navigate. – DonielF Apr 24 '18 at 22:46
  • @DonielF see YD 162 1 and Beis Yosef there. He quotes numerous rishonim who state that Seah beseah is an issur derabanan. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Apr 24 '18 at 23:02
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    Okay then. I stand corrected. But your answer could still be improved by editing that, and sources for everything else, into your answer by using the edit button just underneath the answer, above the comments. – DonielF Apr 24 '18 at 23:16
  • In the case of the example given, the return of a rental car with a full tank may not be ribis because the gas could be included in the rental price. When borrowing a car, the lender should state that he is not lending the car, but renting it for the price of the gas being put into the tank before it is returned. – sabbahillel Apr 25 '18 at 0:32
  • AFAIK s'a bis'a is permitted with small amounts between householders, as they're not careful with exact prices of such things. – msh210 Apr 25 '18 at 1:02

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