Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Halocho #96 - Is burning Chometz wasteful?

Today, 10 Nissan, in the year 2449, the Jews in Egypt selected lambs for their Pessach sacrifice. Forty years later, on 10 Nissan, the prophetess Miriam - sister of Aaron and Moshe - died. A year later on 10 Nissan, the Jews crossed the Jordan river, as recorded in Joshua 3-4.

  • The Torah forbids us to waste or destroy items that can still be used.
  • The Torah commands us to burn - or otherwise destroy - all Chometz in our possession on Erev Pessach morning.
Can we reconcile these 2 Halochos? The Mitzva to destroy Chometz can be fulfilled with a bare minimum of Chometz; preferably with leftovers that nobody would be able to use. Usable Chometz can be donated to various charity organizations which will distribute it to the needy. Alternately Chometz can be sold to a non-Jew. Since most of us don't want to start selling Chometz on Erev Pessach, one can go to most local Rabbis and appoint them as a messenger to sell ones Chometz. The Rabbi will make a legal sale of the Chometz including a legal document and a deposit. Realize that this a a bona fide sale, and that the non-Jew is entitled to come to your house and request you hand over his Chometz, as has occasionally happened. After Pessach the Rabbi goes to the non-Jew and asks to be paid the remainder of the debt and offers to buy back the Chometz from the non-Jew at a higher price. Since the non-Jew usually prefers to make a quick profit rather than paying for hundreds of items scattered throughout the city, he will sell the Chometz to the Rabbi. One should only sell Chometz and not the containers it's in - especially not containers that require Tevila, like metal and glass, otherwise one would need to Toivel them in a Mikva after Pessach, since they belonged to a non-Jew during Pessach. Chometz that has been sold (via the Rabbi) must be locked away so that one doesn't accidentally use it, which would be a double problem: Chometz on Pessach and stealing from the non-Jew. Even if one has no intention of keeping Chometz in ones home, one should still go to a Rabbi to appoint him to sell ones Chometz. Why?
  • A lot of products may be Chometz contrary to popular belief- depending on the latest production methods - like medications, creams, soaps or even food which one discovers later wasn't really Kosher for Pessach.
  • During Pessach one may discover Chometz that one wasn't aware of, or forgot to get rid of in the last-minute pre-Pessach rush.
If one sold all ones Chometz then one didn't own any during Pessach. Chometz that belonged to a Jew during Pessach may not be used after Pessach. This is a Rabbinical decree; a punishment for owning the Chometz. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 114 - Danny 10 Nissan 5768

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