How many Jewish shareholders does a corporation or bank have to have in order for the prohibitions on lending or borrowing at interest to apply?

Is one Jewish shareholder sufficient, or does it have to be a majority, or all?

Could one non-Jewish shareholder exempt the corporation?

If the prohibition would apply, is it Biblical or Rabbinic?

This has practical implications, since many American banks probably have at least a few Jewish shareholders, and most Israeli banks have at least a few non-Jewish shareholders.

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    Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:63 takes the position that a corporation, even if owned by Jews is exempt from the prohibition of borrowing with interest so long no individual is personally guaranteeing the loan. However regarding lending, the Igros Moshe says they would need to do it with a Heter Iska. Sep 12, 2014 at 15:59
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    @GershonGold Sounds like an answer to me....
    – MTL
    Sep 14, 2014 at 2:55
  • @GershonGold When you talk about lending, is the intention lending to another Jewishly owned corp, or to an actual Jewish person or both? Does he deal with lending when the purpose isn't covered by heter iska, like mortgages? Sep 14, 2014 at 10:07
  • To my understanding in Halachos of Ribbis, if cases where one may lend or borrow with Ribbis there is no issue with who they borrow or lend from. Ribbis is an extremely complicated Halachic issue (at least to me) where small differences can make a large difference in Halacha. Sep 14, 2014 at 12:56
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1 Answer 1


CYLOR, especially as this is a relatively modern question that I don't think is agreed upon by all of the contemporary poskim.

I believe that most poskim are of the opinion that a limited liability corporation is not prohibited from charging interest, no matter how many Jewish shareholders there are. This is the opinion of R. Menashe Klein (Mishnah Halakhos 6:277), R. Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg (heard from someone who heard it directly), R. Zvi Pesach Frank (Sheelos UTeshuvos Y.D. 126, see also Zeraim 2:43), R. Shternbach (I assume, based on what he says regarding chametz on Pesach in Moadim UZmanim 1:54), and Rav Asher Weiss (Sh"t 1:105-106)

On the other hand, the Minchas Yitzchak (1:3, 4:1) says that corporations with any Jewish shareholders are subject to Jewish laws, but probably not biblically, and this appears to also be the view of R. Yitzchak Ahron Ettinger (Shut Mahari Halevi 2:124). Maharshag (Shut Y.D. 3) goes even further, and says that all of the shareholders are no worse than partners in ownership, and therefore all the laws of ownership - including Biblical prohibitions - would apply, even if there's only one Jewish shareholder.

Some might say that there's a difference if the Jew is merely a shareholder, or a controlling shareholder in that he would have a say in how the corporation's business is run. This may be the opinion of R. Moshe (Igros Moshe Y.D. II:63) but I'm not so sure

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