Halachic validity of a check

Definition of a check in Halacha:[1]

There is a dispute amongst today’s Poskim as to the status of a check according to Halacha. Some Poskim[2] rule it is viewed as a mere promise document which has no Halachic validity. It is similar to note promising to pay someone money, and is not a document of a debt. According to this opinion, a check cannot be sold to another. Other Poskim[3] rule a check is identical to a loan document for all Halachic purposes, and hence may be sold just like a loan.[4] Other Poskim[5] rule a check is similar to an oral loan that can be purchased through Mamad Shelashton. Other Poskim[6] rule that a check is considered like actual cash payment, as under law the person must honor the check he signed. Practically, the majority of Poskim conclude that a check has the status of a loan document which can be sold.

[1] See Mishpitei Ribis p. 342

[2] Ateres Shlomo 1/65 of Rav Shlomo Garelitz; Chut Shani Ribis 16/115 of Rav Gerelitz; Vayaan David 2/219; Rav Z.N. Goldberg in Techumin 12/295; leaves this issue in doubt; Kinyan Torah 3/93

[3] Minchas Yitzchak 5/120; Igros Moshe C.M. 2/15; Lehoros Nasan 8/106; Ohala Shel Torah 1/84

[4] The reason: Various Halachic considerations can render a check as a valid loan document:

  1. Mamrani: The Poskim rule that a Shetar Mamarani [I owe you document] is a valid document as has the same status as a loan. [See Shut Bach 15; Tzemach Tzedek 10
  2. Dina Demalchusa Dina: Since according to law the check writer must honor his check, therefore it is considered like a loan document, as Halacha accepts the laws of the country regarding monetary matters. [Rama C.M. 369/11; Chasam Sofer 5 C.M. 44; Rashba 22]
  3. Situmta: Since using a check is an accepted way of business, it receives the Halachic status of a “Situmta”, which is considered a Halachicly binding Kinyan. [See Choshen Mishpat 129/5 and Keses Kodshim on 201/1]
  4. Umdana: When one can assess the intents of a transaction to be of a certain form, it has Halachic status of Umdana, which is Halachiclly binding. [See Rav Z.N. Goldberg in Techumin 35/346]

[5] Rav Aba Shaul, brought in Mishpitei Ribis ibid

[6] See Mishpitei Ribis ibid; Pischeiy Choshen Halvaa 10 footnote 21; See Shevet Halevi 7/222

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