web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Q & A: Selling One’s Chametz


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Questions: Please explain the concept of selling one’s chametz. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to dispose of all of one’s chametz prior to Pesach? Why go through this charade every year?

Malka Berg
(Via E-Mail)

(We again interrupt our series on “A Sabbath Desecrator” to answer this timely question. We will continue the series next week.)

Answer: The entire concept of mechirat chametz – of selling one’s chametz to a gentile for Pesach – was introduced so that one shouldn’t violate the precept of “bal ye’ra’eh…u’bal yi’matze[chametz] should not be seen…and should not be found” (Exodus 13:7, supra 12:19).

You ask: Wouldn’t it be easier to just discard all of one’s chametz before Passover? The answer is that selling chametz began as a solution to greater dilemma. In Europe, Jews were not landed, i.e., they did not live on their own property. In fact, in most instances they were forbidden to own land. They typically lived on the lands of the local nobleman, known as the “poretz.” It was common for a Jew to rent a tavern from his poretz and serve liquor therein.

Since most of the liquor was chametz, the Jew would have been required to dispose of all his liquor before Passover. Since most liquor requires aging, he would have found himself in great financial hardship at the conclusion of the festival without any ready product on hand to sell the next day. Any funds acquired through a pre-Pesach sale of the liquor would not have been sufficient to purchase new inventory since such a sale would probably result in distress prices.

Thus, the poskim, based on Tosefta (Pesachim chap. 2:6, cited by Rosh, Pesachim 2:4), resolved to allow one to sell one’s chametz to a gentile for the duration of Pesach. Generally, the buyer and seller agree on a price and the buyer gives a down payment for the product, with the balance due at the festival’s conclusion. Indeed, if the buyer wishes to pay the balance at the stipulated date, the seller has no recourse but to hand over the product. Yet, this has rarely ever happened.

There is much discussion regarding the necessity of giving the buyer complete access to the chametz, i.e., providing him the key to the area where the chametz is stored. The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 448: 12) notes this requirement, which he is rather reluctant to forego. The Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. sk23), on the other hand, is more lenient in this matter.

The Sha’are Teshuvah (ad loc. sk12) relates an incident which might have been the source for the Aruch Hashulchan’s leniency. He recounts that a gentile once bought the liquor of an innkeeper and was given the key to the storeroom. During Pesach he entered the room and proceeded to drink to the point of intoxication. When presented with this problem, the Sha’are Teshuvah suggested that while the gentile was in his drunken stupor, the innkeeper’s servant should lift the key from him. Upon his awakening, the gentile will simply assume that he lost the key. Indeed, that was what transpired.

Now, you must realize that just as one who owned a tavern or inn of old had no choice but to rely on selling his chametz, the same is true of merchants today. If they had to sell their chametz without the option of getting it back, they would find themselves at the mercy others who would likely pay very low prices for the food. In addition, after Passover, very little chametz food would be available, and consumers would have to wait a while until they could buy such basic necessities like cereal for children. This is especially true today when Jews are often not only the food retailers but often the wholesalers as well. What our sages sanctioned, and introduced for the benefit of the Jewish people of their time, serves us well in our time as well.

A rabbi once asked Rav Moshe Feinstein whether one should be stringent and not buy chametz immediately after Passover, even from a Jew who sold his chametz to a gentile. Rav Feinstein (Responsa Igrot Moshe: Orach Chayim vol. 4:95) responded that there is no need to act stringently since surely every Jew, even the least observant, does not wish to cause another Jew to transgress. We must add that the mere fact that he went to the bother of selling his chametz to a gentile should serve as proof of his intention.

So while it may seem that selling our chametz is just a ceremonial observance, the practical application of this procedure directly affects our lives, even after Passover ends.

In this season of redemption may we merit the final redemption, speedily in our days.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Selling One’s Chametz

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Masked Palestinian youth burn tires and throw stones in Joseph's Tomb. (archives)
Arabs Imitate Ancient Greeks and Vandalize Joseph’s Tomb
Latest Judaism Stories
Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.
M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.
M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-selling-ones-chametz/2013/03/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: