Goy Returns Chametz

braided sesame Sabbath challahLast week I reported on the hametz that was given to a non-Jew by the rabbi.

Today Rafi reports that the non-Jew called and offered to return the hametz, and suggests that the whole thing was a setup:

Rafi writes:

Upon reflection, the rabbi probably told the non-Jew to do this whole thing, just to impress upon the people that their “gift” or “sale” is a real business transaction and change of ownership and not just a fictitious loophole.

Some questions remain:
Will any of these people do this again, giving it as a gift rather than as a sale, now that they realize they can easily lose it all? Does their regret have any ramifications as to the efficacy of their gift, or even a general sale as their reactions might be indicative of how most people would react in a similar situation, or to how things will be done in the future? If there were utensils among the goods, will they need to be toiveled, as they have now been owned by a goy? If there were wines, are they going to be thrown out as yayin nesech? etc.

So my question to Rafi is whether a setup would make the whole thing invalid.  If he set it up so that the goy would pretend to want it and then decide to give it back, it wasn’t a real gift in the first place.

Also, I wouldn’t be so pleased at getting a lesson like that from the rabbi.


  1. I think it was set up by a rival rabbi 😉

  2. i really think this is outrageous–first he has them schlep all of their chametz to the shul–not an easy task.then the congregants dealing with the ogmat nefesh of the “taken chametz” and then to find out it was a “lesson”….really–i’d be finding another rabbi.

  3. The first year we lived in this house, the Rabbi of our moshav came around the neighbourhood to arrange selling chametz for each family. My husband explained to him that we don’t sell our chametz, we get rid of all of it. He wouldn’t accept this, and when my husband gave up arguing with him, he brought the Rabbi to me, so I could try. So I tried to explain to him that, as there would be no chametz left in our house, there was nothing to sell and no need to sell. The Rabbi insisted that we had to sell our pots and pans and dishes, just in case there remained a speck of chametz on them. So I asked him if that meant we’d have to re-tovel everything after Pesach if we sold it to a non-Jew… He said (and I quote – I will never forget this one!): “No, no no! You don’t understand! It’s not a real sale! It’s a procedure of the Rabbanut! Everything stays right here in your cupboards and you don’t have to tovel anything.”

    Of course, he did not convince us to change our minhag, and I was sure that we’d be put in cherem or something for refusing to sell our chametz, but apparently it was all forgotten and forgiven quite quickly. The next year when the Rabbi came round, my husband “chickened out” of having another argument and told him that we’d already arranged sale of chametz…!

    We still don’t sell our chametz – and the Rabbi of the moshav is now too frail to go to people’s houses. I wonder if he remembers that incident as clearly as I do… 🙂

    • This brings up a lot of things I never considered. I thought you were suposed to sell your pots and pans, but I never thought about them needing to be toiveled. I guess we’ll have another year to figure it out.

      • You do NOT want to sell your pots – only any Chametz inside them – and even that is not classic Halacha, but a recent addition.

        If you do sell your pots they need to be toiveled again; even if sold inadvertently.

        The Halacha says (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 112:6) says that all dishes should be scrubbed clean so as to remove any visible Chametz, and then locked up for the duration of Pessach.

  4. Everything about this story from start to finish is odd and unsettling, I wounder what the truth is and if the Rabbi was “in on it”.

  5. What matters here is the intention of the Jewish owner, not the non-Jew. Since they had in mind to give their chametz away (whether permanent or otherwise), they already fulfilled the Rabbi’s approach to the not-sale thing. In fact the setup in which the non-Jew actually TOOK it all would further solidify their belief that they gave it up – except that a couple hours before YT, versus in time for zman biur, was a halachically irrelevant time to convince anyone.

  6. Just a question this discussion brought to my mind… If a non-Jew ate off of your plates or cooked with your pots, would you have to tovel them? Or is it a question of ownership?

  7. thinking about it, I dont see why it being a setup, if it was as I suspect, would invalidate anything. they gave it to him, and he had a right to take it. It should not matter if he actually planned to or not or if he only did so at the behest of the rabbi. It was his and he took it.
    The only thing that might be a problem is if they didnt expect him to and regretted their having given the gift when he did take it. I dont know if it would invalidate it, but I can make a case for it. A kinyan was done, but perhaps their revealed intentions show it to be an asmachta (they never expected it to actually happen) which invalidates a kinyan.

    • Seems to me that makes the “gift” setup more of a problem than a sale. At least with a sale I might be upset that my great grandmother’s stroller (and my 2 year old’s chametz) is now gone, but I’ll get and accept money for it.

    • Rafi, thanks for the explanation.

  8. I wonder if the non-Jew wasn’t threatened. Maybe one of the congregants was more concerned about the loss of his liquor than about the niceties of halakha, and made it clear to him that it would not be healthy to hang on to the hametz.