Volume 32 Number 60
                 Produced: Sun Jun 18 23:08:41 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Bill Bernstein]
Selling Chomets (6)
         [David Cohen, Boruch Merzel, Mark Steiner, Gershon Dubin,
Alexander Heppenheimer, Nosson (Norman) Tuttle]


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 08:48:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Pasta

Some people have mentioned pasta as not being chometz gomur since the
mixture sat for less than 18 minutes.  One (modern) issue though might
revolve around the flour.  In Europe flour itself was not chometz
(merely ground wheat). In America though the flour is bleached and
processed additionally and my understanding is that this makes our flour
actual chometz.  If so, it would not matter how long a (chometz) flour
and egg mixture would sit since the flour is chometz already.  Just an


From: David Cohen <bdcohen@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 09:15:04 -0400
Subject: Selling Chomets

<<It often amazes me how we are extremely strict we are with some things
while being extremely lenient in other, closely related things.  Just
about every Jew I know who is even mildly observant - - even people who
drive on Shabbos for secular events -- is scrupulous about cleaning the
kitchen for Pesach, kashering the oven, boiling the countertops, nd
generally turning things upside down.  Yet, at the same time, many
extremely frum Jews, who also spare no inconvenience in cleaning their
kitchens, happily keep loaves of actual bread in their own homes, secure
in the knowledge that they are "sold" and will be "repurchased" an hour
or two after Pesach.<<<

There is a basic flaw in the question raised here. When one sells his
chametz to a non-Jew before Pesach, he also rents out to the non-Jew the
space that the chametz occupies. Thus the Chametz is NOT in you house on
Pesach. That is why many Rabbis require that you segregate the sold
chametz in a closed off portion of the premises, which you cannot gain
access, because you are trespassing. Furthermore, many Rabbis require
you to specifically list the area in the contract.

David I. Cohen

From: Boruch Merzel <BoJoM@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 11:27:04 EDT
Subject: Re: Selling Chomets

Robert Book writes:
<< Accordingly, it would seem that the location, not the ownership, of the
 chometz is the real issue.  In other words, I should not be permitted to
 store chometz owned by a non-Jew in my house ... but I should be free to
 own chometz which I store outside my house.  (Maybe in a "Public
 Storage" rental locker?) >>

The contract your rabbi uses in selling your chometz to the non-Jew
includes leasing to the non- Jew the space in your house where the
chometz is stored.  Thus you not only do not own any chometz during
Pesach, but the non-Jew's chometz is being stored in space leased by
him.  All proper according to halacha.

[Similar point made by Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>. Mod.]

Robert further says: 
>Well, look at it this way.  Suppose you actually get rid of all your
actual chometz.  These days, If you don't sign up with the local rav to
"sell" your chomatz, who would eat in your house after Pesach? <

I don't quite get the point.  The assumption would be that you are so
pious that you do not accept the legitmacy of M'chiras Chometz, and pour
all your left over top quality single malt scotch down the drain.  What
a sad waste !. In other words if you don't sign up to sell our chometz
with your Rav then you are assumed to among the super frum.

As an aside: I would not sell my chometz thru' a rav who does not sell
his own Chometz Gamur (actual Chometz), since he himself obviously
doesn't consider the sale to be legitimate.

Boruch Merzel

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 08:42:21 +0300
Subject: Re: Selling Chomets

In my reply to Boruch Merzel on R. Moshe's position on selling chometz
gomur, I protested against the use of innuendos such as Chumrah of the
Month club, as in the following quotation from Boruch, which I think he
should reconsider:

> I have just about given up fighting against the "narishkeit" that passes
> today for "frumkeit".  Greater men than I have tried and failed.
> Perhaps, I should shut my eyes and ears, buy myself a Borocino (?) and
> join the "Chumrah-of-the-Month-Club

    Boruch has pointed out to me that he wrote this concerning the
practice of what he regards as the Gentile practice of the bride and
groom not seeing each other before a wedding, and asked me to apologize
for the implication that he wrote this about selling chometz.  I am
happy to do so.

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 14:12:15 -0400
Subject: Selling Chomets

From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
<<Perhaps one source of this "dislike" can be found in Shemot (Exodus)
> 12:15, "the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses" 
> and 12:19, "Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses."
Accordingly, it would seem that the location, not the ownership, of the
chometz is the real issue.  In other words, I should not be permitted to
store chometz owned by a non-Jew in my house ... but I should be free to
own chometz which I store outside my house.  (Maybe in a "Public
Storage" rental locker?)>>

 The halacha is that chometz of a goy in your house is in fact forbidden
(to be kept, that is; no chometz may be eaten on Pesach).

 Which is why every bill of sale for chometz used by every Orthodox
rabbi contains a provision whereby the location of the chometz, (which
needs to be in a separate area and not easily accessible during Pesach)
is rented to the nonJew who buys the chometz.

 Ownership of the chometz, however, is forbidden regardless of the
location (scratch the Public Storage locker).

 Whether you agree with this procedure or not is not the point.  The
halacha has been taken into account over generations of usage.

<<Yet, the plain text of the Written Torah would seem to indicate that
this is a severe Issur D'Oraisa (biblical prohibition)>>

 The plain text is not our guideline; the halacha is.  We are not

<<Well, look at it this way.  Suppose you actually get rid of all your
actual chometz.  These days, If you don't sign up with the local rav 
to "sell" your chomatz, who would eat in your house after Pesach?>>

People who trust your kashrus,  Pesach kashrus included.


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: 15 Jun 2000 12:28:05 -0700
Subject: Re: Selling Chomets

In MJ 32:54, Robert A. Book <rbook@...> wrote:
> Percy Mett <p.mett@...> writes:
> > Whisky and other alcohol distilled from grain is 'zeyas chomets'
> > = vapours of chomets. As such it is not held by all authorities that it
> > is chomets d'orayso. For this reason various rabonim introduced the
> > heter of mechiras chomets with the buyback clause.
> But nowadays, lots of people "sell" actuall bona fide chometz -- loaves
> of bread, even.  This seems to me to fall outside the intent of the
> original heter.

It's true that the heter was originally designed for Jewish
tavernkeepers and distillers, as mentioned by previous posters; but then
the operative issue is whether indeed zeyas chametz is "real" chametz or
not. Evidently R' Moshe Feinstein, at least, held that it is, since
Boruch Merzel reports that he said (of people who don't sell bread and
other bona fide chametz), "If you don't sell chametz gamur, what are you
selling?" - meaning, in other words, that whiskey is just as much
chametz gamur as bread, and so there would be no reason to differentiate
between them.

(I don't have that many sefarim handy, so I don't know which authorities
hold that zeyas chametz is _not_ Biblically prohibited; but I do know
that the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (442:9) cites the view that zeyas chametz
is chametz gamur in the name of undifferentiated Acharonim, without
citing any opposing opinion. Furthermore, he also writes (at the
beginning of his Seder Mechiras Chametz) that it is wrong to think that
the sale of chametz is needed only on a Rabbinical level (since the
deOraisa obligation of removing chametz would be fulfilled by the "Kol
Chamira" declaration making it ownerless): since there is intent to
re-acquire the sold chametz after Pesach, it is not included in that
declaration, and therefore the sale must be validly executed in order
not to transgress the Biblical prohibition of having chametz in one's
possession. The implication, then, is that mechiras chametz is indeed
effective for chametz gamur, otherwise - even if the sale was improperly
executed - there would be no Biblical transgression.)

> Yet, the plain text of the Written Torah would seem to indicate that
> this is a severe Issur D'Oraisa (biblical prohibition).

Which is why we don't decide halachah based on the plain text of the
Written Torah! The halachah is clear: "Your own chametz may not be seen,
but you may see chametz belonging to others or to Hashem [as property
donated to the Beis HaMikdash]" (Pesachim 5b); the Shulchan Aruch (Orach
Chaim 440:2) states this as the halachah, with the proviso that such
chametz should be placed behind a partition, so the members of the
household don't mistakenly eat it; and the Rambam (Chametz uMatzah
4:1-2) (cited in Shulchan Aruch HaRav 440:1-2) explains how we derive
this from the relevant verses that Robert quoted. Indeed, on a Biblical
level, all that would be required is to declare the chametz ownerless
(as indeed we do - twice), and leave it lying around the house; it's the
Sages who obligated us to actually dispose of the chametz, because we're
used to eating it year-round, so we might forget ourselves and eat it on

So, if someone wants to be machmir (stringent) for themselves and not
sell chametz that could easily have been disposed of by eating it, so
much the better; but certainly, someone who does sell bread as part of
mechiras chametz is not violating any halachah - not even a Rabbinical
prohibition, and certainly not a Biblical one.

Kol tuv y'all,

From: Nosson (Norman) Tuttle <TUTTLE@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 18:19:01 -0400
Subject: Selling Chomets

>From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
>Accordingly, it would seem that the location, not the ownership, of the
>chometz is the real issue.  In other words, I should not be permitted to
>store chometz owned by a non-Jew in my house ... but I should be free to
>own chometz which I store outside my house.  (Maybe in a "Public
>Storage" rental locker?)

Plus he includes a lot of "musar shmooze" directed towards those of us
who rely on the validity of this sale especially for Chometz Gamur
(literally defined as "complete Chometz").  I will come forward to say
that on my Shtar (signed document given to the rabbi authorizing sale of
Chometz) I include my parents' property (through Halachic transference,
"kinyan chalipin", my property, and the property of my organization
Mazel Tov Singles.  Without mincing words on what is "real Chometz
Gomur", products which contain wheat chometz are definitely included.

Having also heard the Shmooze given as a Shabos Hagadol Drasha about the
flimsiness of this type of sale, I am convinced that it is genuine and
also done in accord with the local laws.  In other words, if the non-Jew
wishes to keep the Chometz rather than selling it back after Pesach, he
is within his legal rights to do so and then an evaluation of the actual
value of the Chometz purchased along with a rental value of the land
will take place with a group of Rabbis and/or experts serving to make a
monetary determination of value.  The non-Jew even has the right to use
the Chometz during Pesach itself!  There are cases where this has
actually occurred.

To respond to the objection above, the location of the Chometz has
already reverted to the non-Jewish owner for the duration of
Pesach/Passover.  Using the language above, it has in fact left my house
and entered the domain of the non-Jew's locker room.  The standard
language of the Shtar Mechira (document of sale) is that the area
surrounding the chometz is also sublet to the non-Jew along with the
sale of Chometz.  While it is probably best to store all the Chometz in
a separate room or rooms, this distinction can also be done by means of
partitions and the like.  Part of a refrigerator or freezer can be sold
along with the chometz inside it.

To insure that the sale is taken seriously, the present Rav who sells
our chometz has me list all the locations where chometz is located, and
all the types of chometz which I am selling, and I try to be very
meticulous about all the details, including describing special
situations (like, for instance, that last year, I had ownership of an
apartment only up to the first day of Pesach, so I sublet it to the
non-Jew only for that day).  He also has us list where (or from whom) a
key would be available in case there would be nobody at our premises (a
Rav with whom I once sold Chometz required me to actually leave him a
key to my house).  These procedures only give credence to the
seriousness of the sale.

All in all, the jury is out on the whole issue of Mechiras Chometz.  On
the one hand, there are questions as to the validity of the sale from a
D'Oraisa (Torah-Law) standpoint.  However, there are certainly reasons
to justify the sale-concept, especially when faced with major monetary
losses and coupled with the actions of Bitul (the process of nullifying
the Chometz), which should work on a Biblical level.  Ultimately, the
validity of the sale rests on the seriousness with which it is viewed
(which also hinges on the degree to which it satisfies secular/civil
law, so that the non-Jew clearly understands what he is purchasing and
what the extent of the sale encompasses).  I would not mock someone who
has seriously gone through this process and knows what it means.

-Nosson (Norman) Tuttle, alumnus of U. Chicago (BS Math, 1991), MS CS
Polytechnic University
<TUTTLE@...> (Software Engineer for Sensormatic, Pearl River, NY)
(my submission represents none of these institutions)


End of Volume 32 Issue 60