The laws of Ribis – interest came into the spotlight this week, when Rabbonim contacted the organizers of the Sichos Kodesh sale and told them they may run into an issue. They advised to to extend the sale to avoid it.
As advertised on Anash.org, the set of Sichos Kodesh will be reprinted for the very special price of $890. It was advertised that this sale will remain open until sukkos, and afterwards the price will go up (to $1050).
It has come to our attention that the way the sale was advertised would involve Ribis, and in order to solve this issue the rabbonim have advised that the sale for $890 should remain open for an additional 30 orders, and the previous orders will be reprocessed appropriately.
The following analysis and solution have been suggested and reviewed by Rabbi Sholom Ber Shuchat and Rabbi Shabsi Tayar:
A standard case of Ribis (interest) is for instance when a lender gives 100 dollars to a borrower who in return will give him back 120 dollars. This would be biblically forbidden.
The Sichos Kodesh sale was advertised that by securing the set before sukkos you will receive the discounted price of $890, however if you wait until after sukkos the price will be $1050.
This is in effect a case of Avak Ribis, with the customer essentially becoming a lender and receiving interest in return. The customer would have ‘lent’ $100 to secure a set of books worth $1050 (for the price of $890 was only available until sukkos).
To solve this problem the Rabbonim have advised applying the $890 discount to a limited amount of orders indefinitely, which effectively means keeping the discount open for an additional 30 customers without a time limit.