Shulchan Aruch Yore Deah 159:2 permits charging ribbis (interest) from a non-observant Jew (i.e one who is completely removed from the Jewish people).

Although such a Jew has the status of a Jew in virtually all other areas of halacha [see reference below]. What could be the reason(s) for this?

To AA: I found the passage where this is asserted in "Laws of Ribbis" , p.98, footnote 18

"YD 159:2 permits charging interest to a non-observant jew . Shach explains that this applies only to one who is completely removed from the Jewish people. Although such an individual has the status of a Jewish in virtually all other areas of Halacha, the laws of Ribbis differ [This is based on a Biblical verse.drr Taz 159:1 and 3]"

  • 1
    "Virtually all"??? Why do you say that?
    – Double AA
    May 27, 2015 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


First of all we are discussing a Meshumad who himself has decided to leave the faith, see Beis Yosef, where even if originally he was mishtamed by force, as long as he as opportunity to return but doesn't, we treat him as a regular meshumad.

We are not discussing someone raised irriligiously who has hope to return, whom we call a tinok shenishba, a person such as this is also discussed in Beis Yosef, where Kuthim are treated as meshumadim while Kraim are tinok shenishba.

So we cannot claim that the person being discussed has all other laws of being a Jew apply to him.

As for the reasoning behind this allowance, the Tur quotes the Rosh and is subsequently quoted by the Taz as explaining not charging Ribbis part of the mitzvah lihachayos, to help keep alive, our Jewish brothers. There is no mitzvah lihachayos a meshumad. It follows then that we may charge him interest.

A final point, the Ramma did say to be stringent, but it is permissible if you can't get out of this business deal.

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