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We’ve previously spoken about specific cases of borrowing items from another person, when it is allowed and not allowed. We spoke about mitzvah objects [video #50], borrowing from family and friends [#31], taking/borrowing from your spouse [#38], and also about taking from your own children [#46] as well as others’ children [#22] (and the differences between). All those videos are going to be on the website MoneyHalacha.com under the category of “Stealing and Damages”.
Today, I’d like to speak generally about whether it is asur (forbidden) to borrow without permission. We’re using a sefer today called Halachos of Other People’s Money, by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner. He brings over here that if a person borrows someone else’s property, or their item, without their permission, then they are going to be guilty of stealing. It doesn’t matter whether you take it with the intention of returning it (not to steal) or whether you’re going to put it back immediately. As well, even if you’re not going to use up the item; meaning, it’s not going to decrease in value or get ruined or get used up; even if you put it exactly where it was; even if it’s only for the few seconds, where the benefit is very minuscule, less than shaveh prutah, and you only had a few cents worth of benefit. In all those instances it would not make a difference. A person would nevertheless be guilty of stealing.
As we mentioned previously about taking from a child [videos #22 & #46], it is asur in general to take from a child who is not yours. We brought a few specific cases when you could and can’t take from both types of children.
As well, borrowing from a goy without permission is also asur and forbidden to do.
Now, what about in a case where you borrow something from somebody without their permission and afterwards, they say, “it’s okay, I don’t mind that you took it”? Does that mean it was never stealing or was it? He brings here in the sefer, that and according to many poskim, even if the owner subsequently said that he didn’t mind that it was borrowed, nevertheless, since at the time you borrowed the item, you did not have permission from the owner and it wasn’t 100% clear that he didn’t care about this item, it’s going to be considered stealing. This is if it’s something that usually you’d need to get permission for; something that it’s not clear that an owner would allow without being asked.
If it’s fully clear that no one cares about this item, like if it’s a hanger or a washing cup, those things no one cares about, so then there would be no isur of stealing [unless you know for some reason that this owner is different and might care]. But here in our case, for example, let’s say if it’s a rake. The owner finishes raking his front yard or he’s shoveling his snow in his front yard and he takes the rake/shovel and leans it on his garage door. Now, that’s not an item that nobody cares about. People actually do care if you would take their shovel or rake. So if you would go over without asking permission and take their rake or their shovel and use it even for just a few minutes and then put it back, since it’s not explicitly clear that the owner would give permission, and even if later he would say “it’s okay”, it doesn’t make a difference and is still asur. Because at the time that you took it, it wasn’t clear that you would be allowed to use it.
We said an exception to this would be when you know that nobody cares. As well, if the owner always lets you borrow it or he’s let you borrow it before. We spoke about that when it came to family and friends, if they’ve let you borrow the item before [video #31].
Also, a general recap as well of other cases which we’ve spoken about in previous videos are: Using land and buildings without permission, where we spoke about entering amusement parks or someone’s parking lot against the owners rules [videos #71 and #3] and also cutting across someone’s backyard without permission [#55].
Another case we spoke about was when you’re borrowing an item to perform a mitzvah. That has a lot of halachos as well. That’s another case where sometimes you would be able to borrow without permission. The case we spoke about was a shofar . So in all those cases, you can refer to those videos we spoke about.
In summary, it doesn’t help to borrow an item without permission if it’s an item that you are unsure if the owner cares. Even if you take it and he says that its okay, it’s still asur to have been done. ***
***Please note that these halachos are intended to inform and educate the reader/listener in general. For any specific questions which arise, it is recommended to speak over the exact case with a competent halachic authority in order to assess the halacha accordingly as any small change will greatly affect the final halacha. You can send your questions in to us as well by replying via WhatsApp to our halacha Q & A number on the group, sending an email to Ask@MoneyHalacha.com, or via our contact page at MoneyHalacha.com/contact-us
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