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The Sale of Hametz

If large quantities of hametz are involved, the economic implications of the complete destruction or removal of hametz as described above could be quite serious. Therefore, it occurred to people that they could sell their hametz to a non-Jew before Pesah, and not suffer any loss. Download the pdf form to sell your hametz here.

In early times, these sales were carried out in a straightforward manner; the transaction was concluded, and the merchandise transferred to the property of the buyer. Circumstances developed, however, in which this procedure was difficult to follow. In parts of Europe, Jews were heavily involved in the distilling industry, and it would have been virtually impossible to find buyers for large quantities of grain or alcohol and to transfer it from one warehouse to another. The practice developed, therefore, of selling or renting the place in which the hametz is stored to a non-Jew for the duration of Pesah together with the hametz contained herein.

This practice is the one carried out today, except that most people do not arrange the sale themselves, but rather appoint their rabbi, or some other responsible person, as their agent for the sale of hametz. There exists a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction with this procedure; it seems to many people as a mere fiction, a legalistic device, to avoid the proper observance of Pesah. This objection may be answered in part by noting that the law which permits this type of sale, is the same one which details the prohibition of the possession of hametz on Pesah. If we accept the prohibition, then we should accept the sale, which is, if carried out properly, absolutely binding according to Jewish law.

Nevertheless, there are those who believe that the sale as it is carried out today is too abstract an act to be a proper discharge of the obligation of removing one's hametz. In particular, they note that the formal sale of hametz was devised for the benefit of merchants or manufacturers who would have to dispose of their considerable stores of hametz, and not for private householders. If one's conscience is not satisfied by the formal sale of hametz then one should physically dispose of it before Pesah. From the point of view of halakhah, (Jewish law), putting one's hametz in the cellar or garage is meaningless; it is under no circumstances an acceptable alternative to the sale.

Click here to download a printable Sale of Hametz form.

 

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