[Avodah] Paying your workers on time using electronic payments

Marty Bluke marty.bluke at gmail.com
Sun Jun 23 20:47:11 PDT 2019

The Torah is very makpid that we pay our workers on time and there is both
a lav and an aseh. The din is that payment must be in cash, the worker can
agree to take other payment or defer payment and then you are not over the
lav, however then you are not yotze the mitzva either.  The question is
what if I pay the worker electronically am I yotze the mitzva? For example,
I go to the barber and pay by credit card or I go to the cleaners and pay
by credit card. What about if I pay the plumber with a bank transfer (for
example using Zelle)? Are these considered cash payments?

Credit cards
It seems clear to me that credit cards are not considered cash payments and
you are not yotze the mitzva for 2 reasons:
1. You aren’t actually paying. The way credit cards work is that you are
telling the credit card company to pay the vendor and then they will
collect from you. Since you are not paying you aren’t mekayem the mitzva.
2. The vendor doesn’t get his money that day. Typically, a *payment* can
take anywhere from 24 hours up to three *days* to process the *payment*.

What comes out is that when you deal with Jews it would seem that you
should try to pay in cash and not a credit card to be mekayem the mitzva
doraysa of byomo teeten scharo.

Electronic bank transfer
Here there are a number of issues:
1. How does it work? Is it like a credit card where you tell the bank to
send money and then the bank collects from you or is the bank simply your
agent to transfer your money to the other person?
2. Is getting money in my bank account like receiving a cash payment? Money
in my bank account is actually a loan to the bank so when someone transfers
money to my account it would seem that they are lending the bank money and
designating me as the person to pay back to. Therefore maybe that is not
considered the equivalent of a cash payment. On the other hand, since I can
go to an ATM and take out the amount in cash maybe it is.

As the world moves away from cash the Halacha needs to adapt with it.
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