Mar 30, 2016

Rav Kanievsky's comments about Pesach

Kikar has the summary of a discussion between Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Baruch Ganot about various aspects regarding the Pesach holday.

Because it is interesting, I will summarize the summary...

They discussed three topics (maybe they talked about more, but three topics are discussed in the article):
1. helping one's wife clean for Pesach
2. selling chametz to a non-Jew in apartheid states
3. a non-Jew who claimed the chametz he had bought from the Jew
4. is the hagadda counted as enough for the mitzva of sippur yetziat mitzrayim?

1. Rav Ganot commented about how seemingly in the past many gedolim did not help much in the cleaning before Pesach, whereas today it is common for men to help their wives with the cleaning. Rav Ganot asked if the change is because the women of today are not as righteous as the women of yesteryear or is it because the men are not as dedicated and focused in learning as they used to be?

Rav Kanievsky answered that both are correct, but he then corrected Rav Ganot and said that the truth is that the gedolim did help with the cleaning when it was necessary.

My only comment would be that Rav Ganot's initial comment and question compared gedolim and average avreichim, which is not a fair comparison. He commented on the gedolim not helping, and asked about avreichim helping a lot. Your average avreich is not a gadol, and if the gedolim have a valid excuse for not doing most of the Pesach cleaning, that excuse might very well not apply to the average avreich.

2. Rav Ganot asked about a situation of apartheid, such as in South Africa where black folks could not live on the same streets as white folks. Would it be allowed to sell chametz to a black non-Jew, considering he would not be allowed to live on that street.
Rav Kanievsky's answer is that it is ok because the black would presumably be allowed to own the house, just not live in it.

Perosnally, I don't understand that. When one sells his chametz he is not selling his house, but the chametz in it. Even without being allowed to live on the street, who says he cannot own chametz on the street?

And, it is a big presumption to decide that they were not allowed to live on the street but were allowed to own homes. I don't know the apartheid laws of South Africa from back then, but I would find it perfectly logical to assume blacks were not allowed to own homes in certain areas.

This was not mentioned, but it seems to me this could be very relevant in places where non-Jews are not allowed to live in Israel (such as in closed kibbutzim, moshavim and the like that have acceptance committees)...

3. Rav Kanievsky related the story of a non-Jew who bought the beer facyory fo a Jew. After Pesach he came and paid the rest of the money and took the business, and thus took away the Jew's source of parnassa.. The Jew did not know what to do, so he went to the rav to ask. The rav said the beer factory was sold and there is nothing to do about that. However, the rav instructed all the people in the community to not buy any beer from this non-Jewish fellow. Nobody bought beer from him, and he ended up selling the brewery back to the original Jewish owner. (I do not know why the non-Jewish customers listened and refused to buy from him, but that's the story as related)

Rav Ganot asked about this possibly invalidating the sale, as had the goy known that he would be blacklisted like that he never would have bought it in the first place. Rav Kanievsky said it is not a problem because it is only a rare occurrence and not common, and the mishna brura says that another Jew cannot buy chametz off a goy after pesach that had originally been sold to him by  Jew for the purpose of Pesach, and if a different Jew did buy it.he would have to return it to the original owner.

fascinating story.

4. Rav Kanievsky said that reading the entire hagadda is already more than enough to fulfill the mitzva of retelling the story of the Exodus from Egypt, and one need not add to it. However, we have the ocncept of the more one talks about the exodus the more praiseworthy it is, though there is no obligation to add. The mitzva is already fulfilled by stating the three things - pesach, matza and marror, and beyond that is extra.

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  1. Maybe there is a third possibility about husbands helping. Houses are bigger and more complex to clean so women just need more help. Women with larger houses way back also had lots of maid help. Not now.

    I can't believe a person could contemplate that saying the Haggadah is insufficient for the mitzvah of sippr yetzias Mitrayim.

  2. On the apartheid question, wouldn't you first have to check what exactly the local laws were?

    And I had the same thought as you. You are not selling the non-Jew your house -- you are selling him chometz, and renting him space to store what is now his chometz. That seems to me the relevant query for a kibbutz, for example. Could an Arab buy chometz and then rent a warehouse there to store his chometz, even though he is living elsewhere.

  3. I don't understand the Apartheid question, especially when making an assumption of what the laws would be regarding property ownership of a theoretical scenario.

    I have heard this question asked in context of a practical question of living under Aparthied in South Africa. The question was asked if one would sell their chametz in a halachicaly permitted sale but in violation of the laws of the country (ie. selling chametz to a black housekeeper) would the sale still be considered valid? I don't understand how home ownership would come into play.

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