Apr 5, 2009

Wait, you're NOT supposed to trash Chametz?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had over Shabbat in W. Hartford...

Less than a year ago, I was gearing up for my first real (well, not really, I didn't kasher my kitchen at that time) observant Pesach. It was April 18, 2008 that I first went to an Orthodox shul for the first time, and wow here I am now a regular attendee of the local Orthodox shul, I stay weekly in the community, and I'm working on a conversion with the rabbi there.

When I was getting ready for Passover last year, I went through my entire kitchen -- cupboards, fridge, freezer, you name it, I found chametz and items with chametz and kitniyot (not getting to a kitniyot blog this year, it just isn't worth the time or energy). The result of my search was a donation to a local foodbank of some unopened stuff, and a gigantic box of stuff that I put in the lobby of my building with a note for people to PLEASE TAKE since Passover was coming. The thing is, when I learned and read about Pesach, in my mind, the whole point was to not be in possession of chametz -- period. Not in the house. Not at the office. None of my spaces could have the dirty little leavened goods.

This whole selling your chametz thing throws me for a loop.

I remember doing it last year, on one of the last days, because I was told that's what you HAVE to do in case there are crumbs. But believe you me, there was not a single product with chametz in my house. Isn't that the point? Didn't the rabbis say that you couldn't have chametz, period? They didn't say to throw it in a cabinet, cover it with foil or tape it off, did they? The point is to go a week without it, to get rid of it, to purge. Purge!Now, it makes sense that college students, people living in poverty, the elderly, etc. would keep their chametz and just block it away -- throwing away a bunch of bread and chametzdik products could be completely hazardous to their finances, their health, their livelihood.

But the rest of us? People who can afford to go to the grocery store and re-purchase that $1.00 box of pasta? That $1.50 loaf of bread? Really? We can't manage to donate that stuff to a food bank and purge the chametz?

I don't know if this is really radical or ridiculous thought, but if I have my way, in the future, when I'm married and what have you, there will be no chametz in my house. It just makes sense to me. This whole selling thing seems like a crock.

As an aside: I have it on a good account that there is (was?) a town in New Jersey where, when you sell your chametz, the people who it eventually gets sold to -- the non-Jews -- actually go to people's homes and take out what they want during Pesach because community members are required to inventory their chametz supply at home. Talk about absurd ...

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On that note: I still haven't gotten my kosher l'pesach Coke. I haven't seen it anywhere, and this severely bums me out. I'm leaving tomorrow night for New Jersey where Tuvia and I will be spending a day or so, and on Wednesday morning we're heading to West Palm Beach for Pesach with his dad's family. So for now, I'll leave you with the results of the most recent poll -- Pesach plans! For me, I'll be attending two seders. I think it'll be a long time before I'm hosting my own.

Sorry about the hideous color scheme. Not sure how that happened!

16 comments:

Nadav said...

In Chicago at my congregation, we "sell" it to the shul and then get it back. We get a bill of sale and everything!

Chaviva said...

Exactly. That's what everyone does. And that's what I don't get. I mean, it's one thing if you schlep all your chametz to the shul, and they schlep it all to some storage space and then you get it back. Otherwise, it's just not actually the way it's meant to be done!

shavuatov said...

I 'think' it's supposed to be acceptable because the sale of the chameitz is a legally binding contract. Even though it might still be in your physical possession, legally, it is no longer yours.

That's how it was explained to me, anyway...

rachel

Daniel Saunders said...

As far as I know, you are only supposed to sell your chametz if you would incur severe financial loss by destroying it, but these days most people just sell it as a matter of course.

Chaviva said...

@David YES! That's it, exactly. Why doesn't anyone actually follow this the right way?

@Rachel David's on par here.

Nadav said...

I actually just threw mine out this year, as I can do without the carbs anyway :-).

le7 said...

Well when you seel your chometz you're also seeling anything you forgot about, (dog food etc.) or just plain didn't find or know about... plus you're selling your chomeztdike pots and pans etc...

shavuatov said...

Our rabbi feels that to throw stuff away is a waste of resources - especially if someone who is needy could eat it/use it.

And i have to say, I agree, no matter what the strict rules are. A form of tzedekah, if you will!

rachel

Shlomo s said...

Woah!!! Common mistake le7, you do not sell your pot pans or other vessels. if you do you MUST re-toivel (mikvah) all of your vessles. many people think you sell the vessels but it poses huge halachic problems. BE SURE NOT TO SELL THE KELIM!!!

le7 said...

Well you're selling any of the chometz embedded in the keilim not the keilim no?

Your contract says you're selling all chometz in your posession... doesn't that count the chometz embedded in your keilim?

Chaviva said...

I think the point is that youre selling the chametz and not the item. If that were the case you should sell your house, which could be legally sketchy.

le7 said...

Well some people sell their houses for chometz... Where I'm staying we're selling most of the rooms for chometz...

zincplatepressblog said...

Yellow caps on the coke...at this time of year they are a lighthouse in a storm of matzah...oy horrible analogy...anyway, Happy Pesach

Yitzchok said...

I don't remember whether I heard this from my Rav (probably) or someone else, but I don't think you sell the chometz embedded in your pots - because no-one's going to buy such a thing...

Many people don't sell actual chometz, only things which may have been made with some chometz component (not key ingredients), or food which may have had crumbs end up in it.

By saying this I may be giving away who I am (or where I'm from), but our kehilla used to sell its chometz by having everyone bring what they wanted to sell in boxes to a central location which would be rented to the gentile who would also come and physically take possession of the items as part of the sale. The new Rav doesn't agree with this approach so we don't do it any more (and as a result I don't sell things I might have sold in the past).

toby said...

Just to reassure you, there are people out there who do not sell their chametz (my husband and I never have) for the very reason that you mentioned: we are not a bakery or a beer company, and we do not incur financial hardship by needing to purge our kitchen once a year. We eat our open chametz, donate the closed chametz, and that's it! Believe me, it makes for some interesting meals the week or so before chag :)

and re: the pots - what y'all said above is true, according to my husband's rosh yeshiva: a) you need to retovel your dishes if you've sold them to a non-jew, and b) you can't sell only the chametz that's in the pots without the pots, since it's not something that you can actually hand over...

moadim lesimcha!

Chaviva said...

So many interesting things about chametz I'm hearing from you lovely readers!

@ZincPlatePress I still couldn't find any bottles. But I did have some while in West Hartford for Shabbos. SO GOOD.

@Yitzchok That's interesting about what you used to do. So what do you do now, then?

@Toby I think next year I'm going to just get rid of everything and/or make sure we don't have any chametz-dik stuff. It just seems more logical and realistic and halakic to me.

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