Borrowing without Permission

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General

  1. Using an item that belongs to someone without permission is considered stealing.[1] This applies also to borrowing from a non-Jew[2] or a minor[3] without permission. Even if you have intention to return it to the exact place and in the same condition that you found it.[4] There is a dispute if this is a Torah prohibition or rabbinic.[5]
    1. If the item which you borrow without permission will not lose value when you use it, then you are not required to pay for the item until you actually proceed to use it; picking up the item is not enough to require you to pay the owner. However, if the item you borrow without permission will lose value when you use it, then your requirement to pay the owner for the use of the item is activated immediately upon lifting up the item.[6]
  2. According to many poskim, even if the owner subsequently consents and says he does not mind that the item was borrowed, since the borrower did not receive permission before he took the item, he is considered a thief. For example, if you would borrow your neighbor's rake that he left outside to rake your leaves without asking him, you would be considered a thief, even if when you informed the owner he said, "that's fine, I do not mind."[7] See Stealing from a Family Member or Close Friend for the Halachot of borrowing things from those whom you know for sure will not mind if you borrow their things.

Using Someone's Land Without Permission

  1. Standing or walking through someone's property without permission is stealing, whether or not there is a sign posted on the land prohibiting trespassers.[8]
  2. If you are certain the owner does not mind, or you see that the owner has allowed a shortcut to become established on his property, then you may cut through his lawn.[9]

Parking Without Permission

  1. If a private parking lot has a sign restricting parking to customers, residents, employees, or any other particular group, it is prohibited for others to park there[10]. Also, if it is evident that the owner needs the lot for his customers it is prohibited to park there even without the sign.[10]
  2. If a person parks in a spot, in a manner that the owner of the parking lot would not approve of, such as blocking the entrance or exit, it is considered an act of stealing.[11]
  3. It is prohibited to block a private driveway by parking or double parking in front of the driveway, but this is not considered stealing.[12] If someone blocks your driveway, and you have tried to tell them not to park there and they continue to nevertheless, one is permitted to call the police to tow the car away.[13]

Possible Exceptions

Knowing that the Owner Will Not Mind

  1. There is a disagreement between Poskim about whether knowledge that the owner would not object to you borrowing his things without specific permission is sufficient justification.[14] However, there is a distinction between "using" and "using up" in this context, as perhaps even the position that doesn't allow relying on implicit permission would permit using an item that would remain unchanged upon borrowing temporarily.[15]
    1. If it is clear that the owner does not object, one may borrow the item without permission. For example, if in the past one regularly borrows a particular item, it indicates that the owner does not object, the person may use that type of item without asking permission.[16]

It is not considered stealing to borrow an item that will surely not be damaged from use, that nobody objects when others borrow it. For example, since nobody minds when you use their hanger, sit on their chair, or wash your hands with their washing cup, it is not considered stealing to borrow it. [17] However, if a significant minority would object, even if not the majority, it may not be used without permission.[18] Certainly, if the owner is standing there and objects to your usage, it would be stealing to use it anyway.[19] Additionally, if the borrower is aware of some reason that the owner might object, he may not use it without his permission.[20]

Borrowing Items Used for Mitzvot

  1. If an item is being borrowed to perform a mitzvah, we presume that the owner does not object if it doesn't cost him anything, as people are usually pleased to have others perform a mitzvah with their possessions.[21] For Examples, see the following:
    1. Borrowing Tallit or Tefillin,
    2. Borrowing a Shofar without Permission
    3. Using Someone Else's Sukkah without their Permission, and
    4. Borrowing Four Minim without Permission.
  2. There is a disagreement about whether it is permitted to borrow someone's sefer, but many modern poskim tend towards allowing people to borrow other's seforim without permission.[22]

When the Owner Would Object: Common Sense Examples

  1. However, there are instances where common sense dictates that the owner would not want you to borrow his item without asking for permission:
    1. If the borrower knows that the owner would object because he is very meticulous or stingy or the like.[23]
    2. If the owner might need it for himself, it should not be taken without permission.[24]
    3. The item may not be used on a regular basis.[25]
    4. The item should not be taken to a different place.[26]
    5. The item must be put back as found.[27]
    6. If the owner is present, the borrower should ask permission.[28]

Links

Sources

  1. Rambam Gezela Vaaveda 3:15, Shulchan Aruch CM 359:5, Rama CM 308:7, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 53. see by Rabbi Dovid Grossman
  2. The Mishnah Berurah 937:10 quotes the Magen Avraham A.C. 472:2 who writes that one should not build a Sukkah in a public space, as one must be certain that all the people who reside in public space would permit you to build your Sukkah there. The Magen Avraham assumes that the Jewish people of the area would be okay with it, but he assumes that the non-Jewish people would not be okay with you building your Sukkah in the public space, and thus he recommends not making the brachah on sitting in the Sukkah in such a situation. The implication is that borrowing the property from the non-Jew would be stealing.
  3. Shulchan Aruch C.M. 348:2. [The Shulchan Aruch writes that stealing from a minor is forbidden, and borrowing from a person without permission is stealing (see footnote 1).]
  4. Shulchan Aruch CM 292:1, also see Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 53-55
  5. see Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 53 note 128-ב
  6. Shulchan Aruch CM 292:1
  7. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 56
  8. Pitchei Choshen 7: note 29, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 57. see there note 137 where he writes that even if you will not cause any damage, it is still forbidden.
  9. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 57, Shulchan Aruch CM 377:1
  10. 10.0 10.1 Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, cited in Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 58, footnote 140
  11. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, cited in Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 58, footnote 141
  12. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, cited in Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 59, footnote 142
  13. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 59 note 142 in the name of Rav Elyashiv. regarding damaging a double-parked car, see Business Halacha Institute
  14. Shach 359:1 says that you can use someone's things without specific permission if you know the owner would not mind. The Tosefot on Bava Metziya 22b disagrees. The Gemara on Bava Metziya 22b brings a story of some Amoraim who are invited by a sharecropper to eat some crops from the field he was working on. Two of the Amoraim ate with the sharecropper, but one refused. Tosefot understands that the disagreement between the Amoraim could not have been regarding whether the owner of the field would mind for them to eat from his crops, as surely all of the AMoraim would agree that it is not permitted to eat from crops without the owner's explicit permission. The Ketzot 359:1 agrees with Tosefot.
  15. Sefer Mishpittei HaTorah 1:52, quoted by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz in an online Shiur , 'Using Your Roomates Stuff Without Permission' (https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/924635/rabbi-aryeh-lebowitz/ten-minute-halacha-using-your-roomates-stuff-without-permission/).
  16. The Ran in the name of the Rashba in Bava Metziya 22a explains that the operative factor here is the owner's regular practice (Minhag) regarding the particular item and borrower in question. See also Halachos of Other People's Money, pg. 61
  17. S"A Harav Hilchot She'ela Seif 5 based on Ritva Baba Metzia 41a, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 59. However, he writes that if the owner is around, one should still ask permission
  18. S"A Harav Hilchot She'ela Seif 5, Shu"t Igrot Moshe OC 5:20:5, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 60
  19. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 60 note 145, Maharsham 227
  20. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 60
  21. Tur O.C. 14:4 explains that if someone borrows another's Tallit without permission, then there is an opinion which says that presumably a person would be happy to use their money for Mitzvot; thus, they would happily allow someone to borrow their item. The Beit Yosef O.C. 14:4 identifies this opinion with the Nimukei Yosef in Bava Batra 44b.
  22. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 65, Rabbi Doniel Neustadt, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein quoted by Rabbi Chaim Jachter. Although Rama 14:4 writes that it is forbidden to borrow somebody's book without their permission because it might tear while being used, Rabbi Bodner (Halachos of Other People's Money p. 65) writes that in our day and age when printed seforim are abundant and inexpensive, many poskim are lenient because the owner would probably not mind. see also Ten Minute Halacha: Borrowing a Sefer, Tallis or Tefillin Without Permissionby Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz.
  23. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 62, Aruch Hashulchan 14:11
  24. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 63
  25. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 63 based on Magen Avraham OC 14:7 and Mishna Brura 14:13, Shach CM 72:8
  26. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 63 based on Mishna Brura 14:13
  27. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 63
  28. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 64 based on Mishna Brura 14:13