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“Would you like to go on an overnight trip tomorrow?” Levi asked his friend Yehuda. “You can help your family get ready for Pesach the rest of the week.”

“I’m game,” replied Yehuda. “When should we leave?”


“I suggest that we daven vasikin and leave right afterwards,” answered Levi. “Then we’ll have the whole day. Pack everything tonight.”

“Agreed!” replied Levi.

Levi later remembered that he gave his tefillin that morning to the sofer to be fixed. The sofer planned to return them the following morning at the 8:30 minyan.

“I arranged to go camping with Yehuda early tomorrow, but my tefillin are being fixed,” Levi said to his brother, Danny. “Can I borrow yours for the trip, and you’ll get mine from the sofer at 8:30?”

“That’s fine,” replied Danny, “but please be careful with them on the trip!”

“Of course,” said Levi. “I have a special cannister for camping that protects the tefillin.”

The following day, Levi and Yehuda set out early and hiked until evening. They were getting ready to sleep, when Yehuda exclaimed: “I can’t believe it! I forgot my tefillin! Can I use yours tomorrow?”

“If they were mine, I’d be happy to lend them to you,” replied Levi. “However, mine were being fixed, so I borrowed my brother’s. I’ll ask him.”

Levi called Danny, but got no answer. “My family goes to sleep early,” Levi said to Yehuda. “Danny is going to daven at 8:30, so he’ll first wake up at 8.”

“That’s too late,” said Yehuda. “The shul nearby has minyanim only at 6:30 and 7:30. Since you borrowed the tefillin, can’t you authorize me to use them?”

“Danny lent them to me,” said Levi, “but I don’t know about you.”

“It’s late, but Rabbi Dayan is still up,” Yehuda said. “We can ask him.”

Levi called, and, after apologizing about the late hour, asked “Can I let Yehuda use my brother’s tefillin?”

“The Gemara (Gittin 29a; B.M. 29b) teaches that a person who borrows something may not lend it to others without the owner’s permission,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “This applies even to a sefer Torah, despite the mitzvah involved” (C.M. 342:1).

“Accordingly, Mekor Chaim (HaRav Yair Bachrach, author of Chavos Yair) (O.C. 14:4) rules that a person who borrowed someone’s tallis or tefillin may not lend them to others without permission (Pis’chei Choshen, Geneivah 6:6[16]).

“However, elsewhere the Gemara (Pesachim 4b) teaches that people generally are pleased to have mitzvos done with their property.

“Therefore, although borrowing without permission is usually considered tantamount to theft, the Shulchan Aruch and classic Acharonim allow a person to use another’s tallis and tefillin without permission, with certain limitations – i.e., he uses them only occasionally, does not move them from their current location, and refolds them properly – since presumably the owner would be pleased to have the tallis and tefillin used for the mitzvah, unless it is known that he does not allow it (C.M. 359:5; O.C. 14:4; 649:5; Mishna Berurah 14:13, 25:53).

“A sefer Torah is different, since it is more valuable and more easily ruined, and therefore cannot be used without permission, as mentioned (M.B. 14:16; Shach 72:8).

“Seemingly, Mekor Chaim prohibited lending borrowed tefillin to others only in a manner inconsistent with these limitations, or since the author himself was hesitant to allow using tefillin without permission.

“Therefore, with the aforementioned limitations, Yehuda can use the tefillin tomorrow according to the classic ruling, since even if Danny hadn’t lent them to you, Yehuda could borrow them for occasional use without permission.

“Nonetheless, some contemporary poskim discourage using other people’s tallis and tefillin without permission,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “since nowadays, people are more particular about them than in the past, unless you are confident that the owner would not mind (Aruch HaShulchan 14:11; Tzitz Eliezer 12:7; Piskei Teshuvos 14:9).”

Verdict: A person who borrows tefillin is not authorized to lend them to others, but classic poskim allow using tefillin even without permission occasionally, in their location, and when rewrapping them properly. However, some contemporary poskim discourage this, unless you are confident that the owner would not mind.


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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to [email protected]. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail [email protected].