Selling the chametz – myth or mitzvah

Traditionally before Passover / Pesach we remove the leaven foods from our home, so that we can bring Pesach food in without fear of it being tainted by the leaven that is forbidden on this holiday. Most people I know will just put away all the regular not-kosher-for-Pesach food in sealed cabinets, and employ their Rabbi to sell the chametz. The rabbi sells the chametz for all the people in his community to a gentile that he knows, for a small sum which is returned right after the holiday. In order to facilitate this sale the Rabbi asks for location of all chametz items. Technically this gentile should be able to come into the houses of anyone who has sold him their leaven items and take what he wants, after all it does belong to him. However, this is all seen as something symbolic even though contractually binding.

Some people will finish up every crumb, every drop of chametz so they have nothing to sell. (A friend of mine is working his way diligently through his single malt collection). But still some of these people will sell their chametz pots and pans and appliances, just to be sure they do not own any chametz. Is this taking things a step too far, is this really necessary? Can a pot really be counted as chametz, if it is clean? I mean, we wouldn’t use it to cook for Pesach unless we had kashered it, but is it technically chametz or just a pot that was used to cook chametz in it?

After we have done the symbolic search for chametz (bedikat chametz) and burned that bread, we say the Kol Chamira “All leaven or anything leavened which is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.” – shouldn’t that nullify our need to sell any of the chametz in our possession? After we have said the Kol Chamira prayer – we don’t own it anymore…

I came up against an interesting situation this year. As you know the KoD and I maintain two homes (ok that makes us sound like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – so not!!) due to our current immigration issues that are soon to be over BH. I was told that I have to sell my chametz here in Montreal, but that the KoD not only has to sell his chametz in NY, but he has to also sell my chametz again, just so we are covered. Why? Because as his wife anything that I own apparently becomes his. Therefore my apartment is no longer mine, it belongs to the KoD and it is therefore his responsibility to sell my chametz. Even though he does not live here!!! As you can imagine I am not right pleased about this.

So I am asking you folks out there to tell me about selling your chametz, why you do it, why you feel it’s necessary, why don’t you do it, what are the halachas, what are the chumras etc.

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32 responses to “Selling the chametz – myth or mitzvah

  1. that always seemed like a very convenient legal fiction to me.

    so does this mean you have to sell the chametz in his house too, cause everything he owns also belongs to you now? or does ownership of your spouse’s possessions only go one way (the sexist way)?

  2. Lady Lock and Load

    We do not sell the pot, rather the chometz which would be on it. This is important because if you sell a pot to a non Jew it would require Tevillas Kailim.

  3. I sell my chametz. I just feel like I have been more thorough when I do and especially since I know I box up stuff, seal it and keep it in the basement during the holiday. As well…the dog food and animals…they get sold too but unfortunately, they do get sold back!

    • Lady Lock and Load

      Elianah-Sharon, I don’t sell my cat food and cats, I use the evo cat food which is kosher for passover.

  4. Just like Lady Lock and Load said, I was going to add if you sell your pots, they were owned by a non-Jew which means you need to tovel them again, which could be a pain. But you can indeed sell their crumbs.

    In my family growing up, we always just sold our Chametz. We bagged it up and took it out of the kitchen and into our dinning room (which we never used for eating, we only ate at the table in the kitchen).

    Chavi however is very insistent that we physically get rid of it. We are not getting rid of stuff that is not chametz but also not kosher for passover, that will be sold.

    Another thing to always keep in mind, with Kitniyot. The tradition is to not EAT Kitniyot on pesach, but Jews can own Kitniyot. Meaning keep your corn and rice, just lock it away.

  5. My favourite item that is chometz is “garlic”. Apparently, someone, somewhere found a kernel of wheat on a clove of garlic and since then, it is chometz…..(or so I have been told).

    • I’ve never heard this one! In our house, garlic is fine for Pesach. However, garlic powder (and various other finely ground spices) may be chametz because of the anti-caking agents that are added to it. I believe there are some brands of KfP garlic powder without chametz or kitnoyot-based anti-caking agents in them.

      We just use fresh garlic like the rest of the year.

  6. Try finding dogfood that is not chometz……….(found some – very, very expensive – cheaper to cook for the dog – lol)

    • Lady Lock and Load

      I used to by the cheap cat food, like friskies and meow mix. Then my brother told me that they put animal by products in it which are intestines and other gook. The meow mix I used has SUGAR in it! He recommended the Evo brand which is pure protien, the canned and I even got a kind of dry food for them that is protien only, no chometz. Sure it’s expensive but so are vet bills from eating junk. It will now be easier for the cats on passover, they will not have to get used to a different food.

    • There is no food on the market that is only protein for dogs (not that I found). The best I found so far has only protein and flax seed (kitniyot) which I can give to the dog and is not considered chometz. Isn’t it interesting that we can have treife in the house but not chometz….

      • Lady Lock and Load

        It is fine to give a dog or cat traif food but not meat and milk mixed together. I always check ingredients before buying.

    • Sorry but the “milk and meat” does not make any sense to me. Why does the dog (or cat) have to follow any of our dietary laws whatsoever, what difference does it make especially when the dog (or cat) is eating treif. Sorry, but I find that to be a shteus (spelling?).

      • Lady Lock and Load

        Because the prohibition of meat and milk together includes having any kind of BENEFIT from the combination. But if something is treif it is permitted to give it to the dog. This is written clearly in the Torah.

    • I will ask my rav on this one. It is not a person who is deriving any benefit…..Please define “benefit”

      • Lady Lock and Load

        You are benefitting because the pet that you own is benefitting.

        • Lady Lock and Load

          The prohibition is eating or benefitting from milk and meat that is COOKED together. I was told not to give our cat the kind of cat food and treats that have meat and dairy. ask your local Rabbi.

  7. Yes, i wonder that myself – are MICROSCOPIC amounts of chametz truly chametz? Do we really need to cover up a perfectly clean counter because of the nano-sized pores that MAY contain chametz?

    • Well they do have the 1/60th rule IF you do miss something. Obviously you should avoid it, but its there for your protection.

      Also don’t forget about the great rule that if a dog wouldn’t eat it, its no long food. No dog would ever eat bleach right? Add a tablespoon of bleach to your water you are boiling to kasher your counter with (or whatever method you do). Then if you miss any crumbs it will be covered in bleach, and no longer considered food. My Rav is ok with that, you might want to check with yours and see if that stops you from having to cover your counter tops.

      • 1/60th doesn’t apply on the days of Passover themselves. Eating chametz is forbidden in any amount, no matter how small. But that’s only eating. It’s not the same for ownership; if you own an unseen crumb but don’t eat it, you haven’t violated the prohibition of chametz.

    • Lady Lock and Load

      Shorty….when it comes to passover there are alot of customs which vary in each household. I cover my counters, that’s what I was taught, and it makes it feel like passover to do the kitchen transformation!
      for people who don’t cover, I wonder if it is okay to place a hot passover pot on a counter that was used for hot chometz pots.
      I know some people who will not use a fork that fell on the floor over passover. there are all sorts of stringencies. But it’s just custom.

  8. You can’t sell your crumbs, or the chametz that’s dissolved in your pots. Sorry. What you sell has to be something that the nonJew who is buying would actually WANT to buy, else it’s a sham sale. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy your b’liyos (dissolved chametz). What’s more, the nonJew has to have the option of keeping the chametz rather than selling it back; otherwise it is truly a sham sale. The concept of selling tiny crumbs and bliyos is a nauseating reminder of the wrong direction our religion is taking.

  9. the issue i have with these stringecies is that it makes people crazy and go further to the point of paranoia.

    • Yes, it’s not good from a mental health point of view. Every year I do less, though still within the law, and I definitely see an improvement in my outlook and well-being.

      • Lady Lock and Load

        Me too Tesyaa. The first year I made passover I scrubbed all my chometzdik pots, pans, silverwear and then locked them up. crazy, no? I think passover brings out the OCD in Jewish women. Then they kvetch and complain about it. Better to ask what to do and not act in ignorance. My Rabbi is very against this hyper cleaning craziness, it destroys Shalom Bayis!

  10. Mechiras Chametz was something that the rabbis set up as a legal fiction.
    RE: Selling pots to a goy: AFAIK in Chabad, we don’t tovel them – when I get a chance I’ll pull up the sources.

  11. We don’t sell our chametz. I was listening to a shiur from a visit Rav a few years ago and he said that, basically, if you don’t treat it like a real sale then it isn’t. Since then we’ve donated any unopened packages to a food bank and I’ve given open packages to a few non-Jewish friends.

    Our Rav has made it one of his priorities to get the women of our community to stop “going overboard” in preparing for Pesah. Even with 4 year-old triplets I find it easy doing it myself (no help other than hubby and the girls) and end up enjoying the process and the month so much more than when we were childless and I “went crazy” cleaning.

    • SElling the chometz just makes us feel better that we have rid ourselves of chometz. I recently went to a shiur and found out one of the reasons (and the one that makes the most sense to me). The chemical interaction of water and flour (even in the absence of yeast) will rise and will create heat (read as fire) and represents freedom (ability to elevate). When we rid ourselves of the chometz then we are preparing to experience the slavery of Egypt.

      On another thought – it seems to me that we do everything in our power to cook/bake food to make it similar to chometzdik food. Doesn’t this take away from the spiritual nature of Pesach?

  12. Miriam, that is amazing to hear (well, read).
    I think people forget that part of the true process of removing chametz, is to remove our own personal chametz from within ourselves. But we play a little avoidance by hiding behind over cleaning and wrapping everything in tin foil and hiding it.

  13. A couple of things. Several times, my husband has actually sold his chametz to a friend of his, under our rabbi’s supervision. They went through the whole thing, and we marked everything as the property of his friend. Other times we have gone through our local rabbi in the more traditional way.

    There are a few things I like about not giving away the closed packages of food – most of them having to do with money. We do our very, very best to use up as much as we can before Passover, but there’s always some stuff leftover – it’s just money, but between buying all the stuff we need for Passover AND getting rid of that stuff? It gets really tough.

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