Can one go to a sefroim store with the intention of not buying a Sefer and look into a sefer and read some of its contents? Is it considered stealing?

  • Sources would be great – sam Jul 15 '15 at 16:32
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    You mean he had specific intention not to buy a book, or he just didn't have intention to buy a book? – Daniel Jul 15 '15 at 16:40

See this article which cites mainly Choshen Mishpat for support.

In short - browsing is permitted as the store owner expects customers to browse. If, at the end, you don't buy because you didn't find what you wanted or didn't like the price, etc. that's fine. A nicer thing to do is to indicate this to the owner, but, it's not required.

However, if you have no intention to buy anything at all, this is a violation of oppressing your neighbor ("ona'ah), since the owner expects you to buy something, and you may be distracting him form attending to other serious customers.

An exception is if you walk into a very large or crowded Seforim store where the owner is unaware of individual customers entering or leaving. In that case, as long as you don't disturb the owner or his workers, you are fine, as the owner has no expectations.

Another possibility would be if the owner asks, "Can I help you" and you answer "I'm just browsing, I may not actually buy anything" and the owner is fine with this. In that case, the owner has given you permission not to buy and he clearly indicates that you have no obligation to do so.

You can also assist your friend who is buying, even if you're not. However, this only allows you to read books that your friend intends to buy.

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    "I may not actually buy anything" is different from "I definitely will not be buying anything." – Daniel Jul 15 '15 at 16:52
  • @Daniel Yes, I saw your comment before I posted my answer. I think my answer addresses both. You can't enter the store with the intention of not buying anything. If you're not sure, you can. In a big Sefarim store where there are so many people or a multi-floor store where the owner is unaware of who enters, then even if you don't intend to buy, this is OK, providing you have no contact with the owner or workers. – DanF Jul 15 '15 at 16:59
  • If the situation is actually "I may not actually buy anything," I don't see why you'd have to go out of your way to tell the owner that. I think that is always assumed to be the case. If I go into a store and the thing I'm looking for isn't there or the price is too high, I might just leave. What do I accomplish by telling the owner that I might not buy anything? Nobody ever has an "obligation" to buy something when they walk into a store. – Daniel Jul 15 '15 at 17:02
  • Considering "ayin tachat ayin" wouldn't it be fine to cause him ona'ah if his prices caused you ona'ah? ;) – Noach MiFrankfurt Jul 15 '15 at 17:02
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt cute! However, you CAN negotiate the price and THEN walk out as there is no violation called "peh tachat peh" :-) – DanF Jul 15 '15 at 17:07

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