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Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Will Let Others Do the Laughing

I'm not LOL about this Pesach story because I find it outrageous, although I do believe that Hashem has a sense of humor, hopefully stopping an unnecessary "hiddur" before it takes off:

(From JPost) As reported by haredi media outlets, members of the Mishkenot Yaakov community in the capital’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood were encouraged by their Rabbi Simcha Rabinowitz to take the tradition one step further, and rather than selling the hametz, actually give it to the non-Jew, who would presumably return it after the holiday.

Many people chose to put their products – including expensive alcoholic beverages – in the room destined for the hametz, believing that such an act would be a higher degree of observing the holiday’s prohibition of not owning leavened products.

I see nothing particularly humorous about a Rav of a community, a community that is presumably short on money, encouraging his kehillah to give away (!) their hametz as an enhancement of long standing way of fulfilling the mitzvah to rid oneself of hametz. As per a Mother In Israel's reporting, the non-Jew even took off with some one's (uncleaned) baby carriage that was left in the room. Hopefully a clean stroller can be recovered, but if the contract was to give away whatever was in the room, it sounds unlikely.

We can argue about if/when one should sell their hametz, but to encourage a new method because one sides with those who don't care for the sale of hametz? I will file this under treating other people's assets without requisite care. Once you give something away (especially a consumable), how can one presume it will be returned?

14 comments:

conservative scifi said...

I have to agree with you that this is probably the wrong community for this custom. It would actually be a nice hiddur mitzvah for relatively wealthy individuals in reform or conservative or modern orthodox communities to donate excess unopened hametz to shelters. One advantage of this is that you would know that the can of corn or beans is not any older than last peasach. But for a community composed of relatively needy people, all they are doing is requiring more tzedekah, not a desirable goal.

tesyaa said...

I'm sorry, the people who followed that rabbi checked their brains at the door.

Additionally, about the shtus of selling, many (most?) people now sell not their pots, which would require tvilas kelim once reacquired, but the chametz that is absorbed in the pots. This is the height of absurdity. What non-Jew would want to purchase microscopic, absorbed grain specks?

You would think that in order to be valid, the sale has to be desirable by both parties, at least to some extent.

It seems unnecessary to sell pots, utensils, or strollers at all, as long as the chametz on them is not edible. (And if it is edible - I don't think there's much market for fuzzy Cheerios stuck under the stroller cushions - shudder).

thegameiam said...

This is the result of poor education in our communities about the difference between halakhah, humrah, and minhag.

It is completely reasonable and desirable to get rid of hametz gamur (items larger than a kazait, made from >50% hametz) - these are the things from which one should take no benefit. However, if your stroller is >50% hametz, then you have some serious cleaning to do.

It's only eating hametz where the concept of mashehu applies - not in owning or benefiting.

May the Holy One, Blessed is He, deliver wisdom and insight to His people.

Avi said...

I'm not sure which articles you're reading, but this one is fairly straightforward. Nobody sold pots or strollers, they sold liquor and chametz. Only instead of selling it for a token amount of money, they gave it away for free. The non-Jew decided that since it was his, he might as well drink it or sell it or whatever. Can't object to that - it's his! But how would this be any different if he had bought it? Either way, it's his, and he can do whatever he wants with it. We sort of hope that he decides to sell it back to us, but if he doesn't, you just have to hope that the Rabbi got a good price for it. :)

I know people who don't like selling chametz because they think it's cheating, but then they shop at large grocery stores owned by non-religious Jews who have sold their chametz. If those stores were open over the holiday and distributors delivered more chametz during Pesach, how reliable is THAT sale? Better to stock up on Cheerios and pasta before Pesach on your own, sell it to a non-Jew through a Rabbi you trust, and then you know it wasn't owned by a Jew during Pesach (and now assur to eat even after Pesach).

Mark said...

Avi - But how would this be any different if he had bought it?

Had he purchased the chametz, the contract would have required a hefty "final payment" upon delivery (i.e. when he takes possession).

Chag Sameach all.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

Comment was deleted because it occurred to me that there is a secular equivalent in retail.

Stores often have net-90 days to pay for goods, and in many cases, the goods are fully returnable to the selling vendor, but the items are nonetheless the stores' property to sell as they see fit.

abw said...

The difference here is also that they took the chametz out of their houses and stored in all together. The man who took the chametz probably wouldn't have done it if he'd had to go from house to house collecting it.

Zach Kessin said...

Life in Israel reports that the goy gave the stuff back, so it sounds like it was a stunt.

Miami Al said...

One of the local Rabbis would make a show of taking the gentile to one of the houses (one of the Macher's that was in the know) and eating/drinking some of the chometz that is sold over the holiday.

Nobody treats the sale seriously, but if you touch any of your chometz after Pesach and before the Rabbi buys it back, it's a MUCH MORE serious sin than eating chometz on Pesach, which nobody would do.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

Big deal.

They did what they thought was right, and they paid for it (lit.).

In general, most people do the saem, but sell to a "trustworthy" non-jew (who in practice has much more to lose by keeping the Chametz), or structuring the sale so that it is foolhardy to complete the purchase.

If this rabbi was ignorant enough not to do what has been done for hundreds of years, let it be on his head.

Dave said...

I'm curious, how much vetting is done here.

More specifically, how do you ensure that the purchaser's mother's mother's mother wasn't Jewish?

tesyaa said...

Dave,

someone once told me that they don't shop at our local ShopRite after Pesach (each of which is independently owned) because they don't sell chametz and the owner's FATHER is Jewish.

but most people do seem to shop there.

Anonymous said...

>More specifically, how do you ensure that the purchaser's mother's mother's mother wasn't Jewish?<

I guess you don't walk on the grass on Shabbos, since you might (will) step on a bug or two.

Get a life, man!