1 Nisan 5778 – Vayikra

Selling your Chametz: A Jewish ‘loophole’ or an important transaction??

Over the past few weeks, we have been distributing and advertising our ‘Sale of Chametz’ form. In place of my message this week, I provide some information as to why this is important and how it works.

Jewish law allows a person in ownership of large quantities of Chametz to sell this Chametz to a non-Jew in order to avoid considerable financial loss. While some people consider this a classic case of a ‘Jewish loophole’, it is actually a proper transaction. As Rabbi Eliyah Kitov, in his work: “The Book of our Heritage”, explains:

After writing a bill of sale, one may leave the chametz in his home without transgressing the prohibitions of not seeing or having chametz, since the chametz no longer belongs to him.

However, it must be set aside in a special place which is rented to the non Jew who has purchased it, so that the chametz becomes the property of the non Jew until after Passover.

The place where this sold chametz is stored should be inaccessible so that neither he nor the members of his family take anything from there through force of habit. The bill of sale for the chametz states that he is selling his chametz to the non-Jew for a specific price. The non-Jewish purchaser then gives him a down payment either money or something with intrinsic value, to acquire ownership of the chametz.

A stipulation is added to the bill of sale, stating that if the purchaser does not pay the balance due by the end of Passover, the chametz will revert to the original owner at that time that is, at the end of Passover. The non-Jew’s failure to pay will not be seen as having retroactively invalidated the sale.

Thus, during Passover, the chametz belongs to the non-Jew and the original owner is not liable for having chametz in his possession on Passover.

Although the seller is fully aware of the fact that the non-Jewish purchaser will not meet the terms of the agreement by paying the full amount, and that the chametz will thus revert to his possession after Passover, nevertheless, when he sells his chametz before Passover, he must consider it sold and therefore no longer his.

Transfer of ownership, according to Halachah, requires intent to sell; that is, the seller must intend to relinquish his rights to his property in order for the title to be transferred to someone else and an act of acquisition must be made. Hence, when the seller consciously transfers ownership of the chametz, and when payment is made, the chametz can remain in the home of the Jewish seller since it is no longer his.

You see, it’s actually quite a necessary and important transaction and can save you time and money in having to waste a lot of good Chametz! So please take just a few moments to fill out our form and return it to me as soon as possible!

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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