Borrower’s and Lender’s Rights


  1. Yankel borrowed an electric drill from Berel "I just
    need to put up a few shelves," he said. Berel readily
    agreed. A few days passed – a week – two weeks… three
    weeks! "How long can it take Yankel to put up a few
    shelves?" Berel wants to know if he can go to Yankel’s
    house and retrieve his drill?
  2. Yissochor borrowed a sefer from Zevulun.
    Levi came to visit Yissochor and noticed the borrowed sefer.
    "I’ve been looking for this sefer for ages!" Many I
    borrow it?" said Levi. Zevulun is out of the country for the
    next two weeks. Could Yissochor lend it to Levi without asking the
    owner’s permission? It is, after all, for the mitzvah of
    studying Torah.


  1. According to the Shulchan Oruch (Choshen
    Mishpot 341, Par. 1 and 5) the terms of the original loan
    determine the parties’ rights.

  1. If neither the purpose of the loan nor its duration were
    mentioned at the time of borrowing, the lender has the right
    to demand return of his property at any time. When
    money is lent without stipulating the loan period, the lender
    has no right to demand repayment until thirty days have
    elapsed. Why is lending items different? The Sema
    explains that money is meant to be spent and therefore item
    must be allowed to get hold of new money for repayment
    of the loan. However, a loaned item of property must be
    returned in its original state and is therefore always
    available for return.)
  2. If a loan period was mentioned, the lender is not entitled
    to demand return of the item until this time has elapsed. Rabbi
    Akiva Eiger
    adds that the borrower may return the
    borrowed item within the loan period. Once it is back in the
    possession of the lender, he is free of any further
  3. If he borrowed the item for a particular purpose, which he
    mentioned to the lender, then the lender has no right to
    demand its return until the particular job has been completed.
    This applies even if it takes a long time to complete the job.
    However, if the borrower waits a long time before
    starting the job or takes an unusually long break in the
    middle of the job, then the lender has the right to demand
    immediate return of the item (see Sema No. 14)

THEREFORE, in our case, where Yankel borrowed Berel’s
drill to put up a few shelves, he would be entitled to keep the
drill until the job was completed. However, three weeks to put up a
few shelves is an _______ long time. Berel may therefore go to
Yankel’s house to retrieve his drill.

  1. In Choshen Mishpot (Chapter 342), the Shulchan Oruch
    tells us that a borrower may not lend the borrowed article to a
    third party. This law applies even if the borrowed article is a
    mitzah item, such as a Sefer Torah. The Sema (No. 1)
    explains that even though we have a rule that a person wishes to
    have a mitzvah performed, using his property, on this occasion
    the lender may not wish to have his borrowed article lent to a
    third party for fear that he may attempts to conceal it.
    The Maharik (Shoresh 6) adds that this rule applies even
    if the second borrower is a much more respected person than the
    first, since we have no source for making such a distinction.

However there are exceptions to the rule

  1. The Schach (No.1) states that if borrower No. 1 knows
    that the lender is accustomed to lend such items to borrower
    No. 2, he may also do so without asking the lender’s
  2. The Nesivos (Chapter 72, No. 17) states that it is
    permissible for the second borrower to use the article within
    the first borrower’s domain, In such a case, there is no
    cause for concern that the second borrower will conceal it.

THEREFORE, Yissochor may allow Levi to use the sefer as
long as he does not take it out of Yissochor’s house. If
Yissochor knows that Zevulun has lent seforim to Levi in the past,
he may also do so, without asking permission.

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