The Torah forbids a Jew to accept or pay interest on a loan from a fellow Jew. Simple? No, not at all. Because the prohibition is not necessarily limited to the sort of formal interest charges that one sees on the monthly credit card or mortgage statement. What about pre-payment discounts? Barter arrangements? Third-party payments? Filling up the gas tank after borrowing a car?
Not everything is forbidden, of course, but the laws of ribbis -- a more accurate and embracing term than “interest” -- are not only complex, they relate to everyday life in countless ways that the average man or woman never thought of.
Hence this pathfinding book.
It is thorough, yet practical; detailed, yet clear; scholarly, yet written for the layman as well. It provides copious footnotes, yet its text is thoroughly comprehensible. This book is probably the finest English-language guide ever written on the topic, and surely one of the best in any language. The author avoids the theoretical ivory tower; he approaches his subject from the everyday world of the businessman, shopper, merchant, or anyone else who deals with finances and credit -- which means virtually everyone in today’s world.
And the author deals with something else that is of utmost importance: How can one avoid a pitfall while staying within the realm of halachah? Because very often there are permissible ways to conduct financial transactions that on the surface seem to be forbidden.
In short, this eye-opening book sheds light on an important and complex subject that will seem far less forbidding when the final page is turned.