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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Valid Sale

As I sit munching another crunchy sheet of Jewish flatbread, I can't help but recall all the effort it's taken to get to this point. True, I didn't have to tie the deity of my taskmasters to my bedpost or tread lightly through towering walls of sea water this year, but I did undergo a certain degree of suffering and hard work in order to sit at my plastic-draped table this Pesach.

Usually, my husband and I sell any chametz to non-Jews through our local Rabbi, Rav Zalman Melamed. However, we missed the deadline this year, leaving us with a nasty pile of wheat-infused products with which to deal even after Rav Melamed had conducted the sale of Beit El's chametz through the non-Jew of his choice.

Frantic to unload our medicines, perfumes, and wheat-kissed soaps and shampoos on a gentile willing to buy, we started making some calls. One friend mentioned that he had sold his chametz online - through

We were nervous to conduct this kind of transaction in such a seemingly non-legal sense. After all, if the sale isn't actual and is only symbolic, you are still the owner of chametz during the time in which it is forbidden according to Torah law, and you are therefore not really observing the commandment to rid your home of leaven.

Yet when I arrived at the website of Chabad, I saw that the amazing Jewish outreach organization was taking the sale quite seriously, and that I could once again rely on that enthusiastic and committed group to navigate me through the holiday with confidence and halachic certainty.

On behalf of my husband, myself, and my daughter, I completed the online form, which delegated power to sell my chametz to a Chabad rabbi named Yosef Landa after confirming my location for the holiday, address, contact information, and providing me with a space to specify the exact location of any chametz and how the purchaser could collect his purchases. I subsequently received a receipt of sale, ensuring me that my chametz would be sold to a gentile around noon on Friday, and suggesting that if the gentile were amenable, Chabad would purchase back the chametz for me after the holiday and I could begin using it by 10pm after Pesach ends.

Chabad, what would we do without you? Your knack for enabling Jews to perform mitzvahs never ceases to amaze and gratify me. Whether on the streets of New York, or in my living room in Beit El, you are still the greatest. Thank you!

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  • At 5:46 AM , Blogger Bruce said...

    Yep, i've been using Chabad's online service for several years.

    It winds up being the absolute EASIEST thing about Passover. Log on and a few keystrokes and click later it's done!


  • At 6:13 AM , Blogger Pinchas said...

    I'm still not so sure about the halachic validity of this - for example to appoint a shaliach to sell your chometz there has to be some sort of kinyan - an actual act like handing the Rabbi an object you own. This is just like what you see done at a Jewish wedding. Chabad likely relies on minority opinions or their own heterim (i.e. "better than people not doing any sale at all" or "this is okay for kiruv purposes").

    I'm just saying that I don't think it's proper for Judaism to be turned into "a point and click religion." Pesach is an extremely involved endeavor and if it means being careful enough to get to an actual Rabbi in person to sell our chometz, we should do it and not take any shortcuts. It’s the least we could do for G-d after he split the sea for us and gave us his Torah.

  • At 4:57 PM , Anonymous Bryan said...

    This topic is discussed Here


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