“I’ll be in Israel from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until Chol HaMoed Pesach,” Mr. Laufer said to his rav, Rabbi Goldman. “I’d like sell my chametz before leaving.”
“I’m usually happy to sell the chametz for you, but not this year,” replied Rabbi Goldman. “When I sell the chametz here late morning, it will be late afternoon in Israel. According to many authorities, you need to dispose of your chametz earlier, according to Israeli time.”
“What should I do then?” asked Mr. Laufer.
“I can give you the number of a rav who sells chametz twice, once for those here and once earlier for those going to Israel,” replied Rabbi Goldman. “Or, you can sell your chametz through a rav in Israel when you’re there.”
“I’ll sell when I get there,” Mr. Laufer said. “Anyway, I don’t know yet what chametz I’ll have there.”
After arriving in Israel, Mr. Laufer sold his chametz through the rav of the community where he was staying. He and his wife experienced a wonderful Seder with their daughter and grandchildren who lived there. On Chol HaMoed they went to the Old City and prayed at the Kotel.
The Laufers returned to the U.S. and celebrated the end of Yom Tov with their family living there. “We sold our chametz through a rav in Israel because of the time difference,” Mr. Laufer related at the table.
“That solved the problem at the beginning of Yom Tov, but what about the end?” asked one of his grandchildren. “When the rav in Israel buys the chametz back after Yom Tov, it will still be Pesach here!”
Mr. Laufer thought for a moment. “I didn’t consider that,” he acknowledged. “I don’t know.”
Mr. Laufer met Rabbi Dayan toward the end of Yom Tov. “I sold my chametz through a rav in Israel,” he said. “My grandchild asked, though, what did I gain? The rav already purchased the chametz back from the gentile while it’s still Pesach here!”
“That is not a problem,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Although the rav in Israel purchased the chametz back from the gentile, who expressed his willingness to sell it, nothing requires you to acquire the chametz back at this time. A person cannot be forced to acquire something against his will.” (B.K. 138a; C.M. 245:10)
“Thus,” Rabbi Dayan continued, “Shulchan Aruch states that if a gentile brings a chametz gift to a Jew on Pesach, he should not receive it from him nor indicate that he intends to take possession. It is preferable that he state explicitly that he does not want his property to acquire for him.” (O.C. 448:2; Mishnah Berurah 448:5-6)
“But doesn’t a person’s property acquire for him, even without his awareness?” asked Mr. Laufer. “Since the chametz is sitting in my house, wouldn’t I acquire it automatically?”
“A person’s property acquires only if the owner wants it to,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, the owner can decide that he does not want the property to acquire for him. This is certainly true where the acquisition would entail a prohibition, or if the person himself does not have the ability to acquire, since the property is considered like an agent of the owner.” (Machaneh Ephraim, Kinyan Chatzer #4; Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 8:)
“The same is true where one person acquired on behalf of another without his knowledge,” added Rabbi Dayan. “This is possible based on the principle zachin l’adam shelo b’fanav, one can acquire for another not in his presence, but the recipient can state that he did not want the person to have acquired for him.” (C.M. 243:20)
“I should note,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “that some rabbanim stipulate with the gentile that they do not want to repurchase the chametz until the proper time comes for those from abroad.” (See Mikraei Kodesh, Pesach I:76)Rabbi Meir Orlian