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Apr 10, 2011

Stop Selling Chametz

I probably should not be commenting on this article, as it was written by nobody of any particular influence. it is just the opinion of some guy like me. The only reason i am writing is because he published his article in Ynet and not just on his personal website.

Hillel Gershoni, writing in Ynet, has an article telling people to stop selling their chametz. It is a fiction in halacha, he goes through some of the history of the development of the sale and the sources, and people who are so machmir regarding everythign they do for Pesach should not be relying on the fictitious sale of chametz.

First of all, he has a point. There is a certain sense of halachic fiction to it, and I know people who will not sell their chametz because of that. Some will only sell what the original hetter mandated (not because of a sense of fiction but because of the original hetter being limited in scope), large stocks of whiskey which are considered "great financial loss", but will not sell regular chametz.

On the other hand, most people would be ok with the whole thing if the non-Jew who purchased the chametz showed up one day during Pesach and wanted to take his chametz, and paid full value in return. That makes it into reality and not fiction. Why should it bother me if he wants to pick up his pasta or whatever else from my machsan and pay me the value?

He should have really compared it to the hetter mechira of shmitta which many people, probably most of the people he was targeting his article to, reject as fictitious and problematic. he should have said that if they reject the hetter mechira of shmitta they should reject the hetter mechira of chametz. the differences between the two are specious, at best. Mostly they are pointed out simply to assuage the guilt of those who rely on one and not the other (myself as well, I admit.)


  1. If you believe it's a fiction, then your sale is clearly not valid. So I suggest you don't rely on it. Myself I'll continue along the path set for is by gedolei haposkim who did rely on it.

  2. I agree, and as I said, my opinion is why wouldnt I sell the non-Jew my pasta and whatever else if he came and wanted to take it and pay me the value. To me it is not a fiction. But some people believe it is.

    at the end of the article ynet writes that this is the authors opinion alone and the rabbonim have endorsed mechiras chametz for many generations already.

  3. Hmmm....I've always said that both are the same thing...

    Concerning selling the chametz: in my previous incarnation as a pulpit rabbi in a small cong. in NYC, I sold the Chametz to a non-Jewish lawyer in my neighborhood. As I explained to her (and she went over the contract the first time I sold it too, and she agreed that this was correct), the sale might be a halachik loophole, but by no means a legal fiction. The sale would and could be upheld in a court of law. So if it was in the contract fictitional, then it was NOT a valid sale, and therefore assur after Pesach. But if it was a valid sale (even though the conditions might seem to be a bit strange, but valid), then it is Halachikly valid too, and after the sale back there should be no problems.

    As to heter mechira, I have no problems holding by it halachikly. I have a problem with it hashkaficly - how can one sell the Land of Israel? Not getting into the arguement that is in vogue right now, but how can one sell the Land that G-d gave us, to someone else, especially someone who might be our enemy? BTW, my preference is first for Otzeir Beis Din, then Heter Mechira and then for Yevul Chu"l. Our first allegience wherever possible should be produce of the Land. To me to go first for Yevul Chu"l is a slap in the face of Ertez Yisrael.

  4. its been sugested that each year the goy should go with reporters to some people on the list and buy the hametz...then we will know its real...

  5. many people have the minhag of not having chometz in their possesion or house at all over pesach. They still sell their chametz that is absorbed in their pots and dishes. if the goy is willing to pay full price for my used T-fal, corell and tupperware I have no problem with this so in essence the sale is 100% valid, while on the other hand heter mechira during shmita is not just hashkafically abhorent, it is not 100% valid as no Jew in their right mind would sell land in Eretz Yisroel (even some to another Jew).

  6. It's fairly simple to be lenient on mechirat chametz, even if one were to believe it to be close to fictitious, since the real problem mecharit chametz circumvents is chametz she'avar alav haPesach, which is only a Rabbanic knas.

    Strangely, I don't hear the same complaints against bank accounts and mortgages, which rely on heter iska, and circumvent an isur d'oreita!

  7. The difference is as you have said yourself. No one would contest the goy taking his chometz. No one would allow the goy to walk off, after paying full price, with his farm. Not only that, he wants to continuw using it himself during shmitta as if nothing happened!

  8. in the article the author assumes that people do not really want to sell their chametz. With that assumption, it is fairly similar to hetter mechira.
    I dispute that assumption.

    Regardless of the difference, a sale is a sale, whether one really wants the result or not. If you sold it, accepting the halacha seriously, with knowledge of how it works, it is a sale. Doesnt really matter that you dont really want to sell it..

  9. The Ramba"m, like others describes how is to be done. If you have some hametz before it is forbiden to get benefit from hametz, you may sell it to a goy. IF he happens to have some hametz after Pesah, you'd like to buy, no problem.

    No rocket science here.

    The issue is ones kevanna.

    Rabbanim claim that if you make a qinyan to sell it, it's a good sale.

    I don't buy it. I also don't think that there are that many people who get that you're not supposed to believe you're getting your hametz back from the goy automatically.

    Others have a contract that if the goy doesn't get paid in a week then the contract is null and void. Who thinks the goy in this case will ever actually get paid.

    A housemate of mine really believed that if "Ahmed" came to get his hametz, he would be happy to hand it over to him.

    That sounds like a kosher sale. How many of those exist?

  10. my father is a rabbi and sells chometz for the whole community. one year the goy he sold to showed up drunk on pesach and wanted the chametz. my father was delighted and said "yes it's yours" and takes him to the locked cabinets. the problem was that he doesn't sell real chametz of his own and the guy wanted the liquor. Then my father tells him everyone on the list sold their chametz, some of them sold liquor: go to their houses and ask for it. and tell them you are the fellow who bought it. It's yours! Remind them that the rabbi said it's yours and they must give it to you! he never showed up any where else. i guess he was too drunk. but this episode convinced me it was a real sale.


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