skip to Main Content

Should a Business Have a General Heter Iska? 

Rav Yosef Dovid Josilowsky, Dayan at the Bais HaVaad

Question: I am starting a lending company that gives loans with interest. Since it is possible that I may have clients who are Jewish, and I may not even realize they are Jewish, should I get a general heter iska just in case? 

Answer: A general heter iska is a very good idea to have in your business. 

In fact, before the war, Rav Azriel Eiger of Lublin (a great-grandson of Rav Akiva Eiger) promoted the idea that every individual should have a general heter iska for all their business pursuits. He noted that many people stumble in this area of halacha and wrote that having such a general heter iska would be the solution. Many Rabbanim agreed with this idea. 

Rav Aharon Kotler, however, was opposed to the idea. He said that even though we find that a person can make a general declaration annulling all vows he makes in the coming year, one cannot do the same with a heter iska. This is because a heter iska needs a kinyan, which has to be specific to the transaction it applies to. He says that one cannot do this in a general way and it must be specified for each deal individually. 

In your business of lending money, it may be a good idea to have a general heter iska just in case, but if you know that you are lending money to a Jewish person you should definitely make a heter iska that is specific to him. 

NEW Yorucha Program >