If someone provides a discount for early payment, and raises the price for others, there is reason to consider this a form of forbidden usury.

What if someone is giving away a gift to some as a time-limed, promotional incentive, and charging for it later? The case that caused me to wonder about this practice is a local synagogue offering free rain ponchos to encourage attendance at Friday night services tonight (the weather forecast calls for rain), and charging $10 apiece (as a fundraiser, I assume) otherwise.

Is this a problem of usury? Is it a different problem? Is it no problem? Is this any different from a candy store/bakery owner giving kids (or others) free samples? (Ie., would one be allowed and the other forbidden? If so, which, and why?)


1 Answer 1


The problem with making an early payment is that you are making a deal to pay cheaper now to get a better value later. You’re "lending" the money to them now. They're "paying you back" with more value later. (Which is paying for the use of your money in the interim... ribis.)

In the case of the shul giving you the poncho, since the poncho is free, you are never "lending" the shul any money. So there would be no issue of ribis.

Even if you were to consider "going to the shul" as a form of "payment" (which is a stretch). It would not be considered a "loan" because you are receiving the poncho right then and there.

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