MECHIRAH MESS: Brooklyn Goy Bought the Chometz – And Then Asked for it On Pesach

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Over Pesach, a goy who bought the chometz of dozens of families in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before the Yom Tov demanded to be given the chometz he had purchased.

It turned out that the goy who regularly bought the chometz could not participate this year for health reasons and sent his friend to buy the chometz in his place. The “new” goy gave the rov some money as is required in the transaction.

The functionaries explained to the new goy the nature of the sale of chometz, but apparently the goy did not understand the details, or chose not to understand. He showed up on Pesach and said that he had selected a family from the list he had received before the holiday and demanded the chometz he had bought. He asked if he should bring a private car or if he would need a truck to haul away the chometz.

Those he approached tried to scare him and told him that it was “a subject of holy rabbis, and he should not get involved.” They also warned him that he “might be punished from Heaven.”

The goy insisted on speaking with the rov who sold him the chometz. He met with the rov, who persuaded him to return on Chol Hamoed. When the goy returned on Chol Hamoed, the rov explained to him the details and the nature of the sale of chometz, and the goy then agreed to hold his demands for the food.

Ultimately, the story ended well, but the families who were involved asked that their names not be published, so that no one will suggest that their chometz was not legitimately sold.

{CB Frommer-Matzav.com Newscenter}

49 COMMENTS

  1. ” so that no one will suggest that their chometz was not legitimately sold”
    Its not such a simple matter that the ‘Micheereh/sale’ is valid. It may be a bigger issue then you make it 9or don’t make it).

  2. The goy could have called the cops and they would’ve been forced to give it to him. Or he could have taken them to court or beis din and demanded the chometz and he would have won. By obstructing him from taking the chometz they may be stealing legally and halachikly, however it does not invalidate the sale in my opinion.

    They say that the Rov of Baltimore used to take the goy around on Pesach and offer him the option of taking chametz, just to show how real the sale is.

    • Actually if he wants the chometz he can have it but he has to pay the rest of the value. The sale is made with a token amount of money and the rest is due on delivery.

      • No, the rest is due after Yom Tov. In most cases, the physical premises where the chametz is situated are rented to the Nachri, so he has already taken delivery at the time of the sale.

        As to the enforceability of the contract, consider this. What will happen if the Jew/s decide NOT to buy the chametz back after Yom Tov, and demand payment of the balance? Will the courts enforce the sale? In particular, will they enforce it after the Nachri was told the following? (Let’s say he was wearing a wire!)

        ‘ Those he approached tried to scare him and told him that it was “a subject of holy rabbis, and he should not get involved.” They also warned him that he “might be punished from Heaven.” ‘

        Will beis din enforce it? Ravina and Rav Ashi’s beis din, not the beis din of the (l’havdil) holy men from Villamsborg.

        The Chasa”m Sofer writes that mechiras chametz is valid despite the flimsy nature of the sale, because chametz has almost no value to a Jew before Pesach: If he doesn’t sell it, he must destroy it. This creates problems for chametz sold by businesses owned by Jews who do not keep Torah and Mitzvos (even if Jews will not buy their stock after Pesach, they could easily sell to non-Jews, or others like themselves). Almost the same issue exists with someone who expects the chametz to be waiting safe and sound where he left it, come motzo’ei Yom Tov.

    • Normally the contract states that he can take possession of it only after the holiday (he has ownership during the holiday but can only pick it up, if he wishes to, afterward). And the price that is set is normally high enough so that the Jewish people should have no objection. So he could have had my Cornflakes for the $100 that is specified in the contract, for example (obviously, the contract does not get down to that level of setting the specific prices per item, but you get the idea. Bottom line is that had he called the police or brought them to court as you suggest, he would most definitely not won. I find the entire article rather hard to believe for that reason. And here in Israel, there are normally no contracts covering “dozens of families” as this article states. There is basically a single contract that is handled by the Rabbanut. So my rabbi simply had me sign a document that states basically that I am authorizing the Rabbanut to handle the transaction for me.

      • You are gravely mistaken.

        If someone owns something, then he has every right to pick it up whenever he wants. Specifying otherwise means the contract is a sham. I know of no such contract for mechiras chametz. (Maybe the contract used by the so-called ‘rabbis’ of the state of so-called ‘Yisra’el’, but nobody serious.)

        Setting the price high, is also prima facie evidence of lack of true intent to purchase. A standard mechiras chametz contact uses the formula of ‘Assessment by three knowledgeable appraisers’ (to be performed after Yom Tov when the payment is due) – in other words, fair market value.

        Rebbi Moshe ZT”L, has a contract (pretty sure it’s printed in Igros) that specifies a 15% discount from the above calculated price.

  3. This is why many people won’t sell chometz l’chatchila on pesach . . . because they don’t consider this a real sale as we see from this episode

      • Closets? The only chametz gamor I sold was some scotch. And I had intended to finish that off, but it was harder than I thought

      • Most of the food in your closet is not chometz, rather kitniyot or uncertified kosher for passover food. The only food the goy actually buys is the chometz gomur (pasta, bread, crackers, beer, scotch, etc.).

  4. whats the problem? why not give him what he purchased legally? The shtar and also the secular document are clear about the terms of the sale and if he wants it he is welcome to it and he has to pay the fair market value. The money that the goy gives at the time of sale is a deposit. if the seller does not give it to him then indeed that shows that he didnt really want to sell it in the first place!!
    thats why many (myself included) do not sell real chametz.
    this certainly does not smell to good

    • I am curious, all of you who say that you do not sell chametz, how would you deal with your investments in companies that have real chametz, including investments within your pension? How would you deal with receiving chametz in the mail over Pesach (that once happened to me) or inheriting a business that owns a large amount of chametz (there is a teshuva in the Chashukei Chemed where that happened)? There are too many scenarios to describe where you might not truly make the chametz hefker or like dust despite that being the language that you use in Kol Chamira, and you might find yourself in a tricky situation.

  5. I always wish the goy I sold my chometz to would come and ask for it because (1) Then I know I REALLY sold it (2)I would love to make money off my old stuff.

  6. This doesn’t make any sense. If they sold it, why didn’t they give it to him when he demanded it? Why scare him off? As long as he’s willing to pay for it, it belongs to him!

  7. “but apparently the goy did not understand the details, or chose not to understand.”- i think he understood and you didn”t.

  8. why did they ot give him their/his chametz??? its stipulated in the mechirah that the guy would then have to later pay
    up the$ balance

  9. R”Yehuda Baum took the goy around to houses in Macha”l, and told him to drink some of the whiskey, just to show people that their sale was ‘real’

  10. He really should have been allowed to take it, otherwise why is the sale legitimate? Of course then he should pay more than just a token amount.

  11. why and how would this be different than one selling a house and not moving out on the contracted date? The buyer could then take the seller to court for an eviction. Ie, how does relinquishing control prove or demonstrate ownership? I would argue it constitutes a thief or a rotten apple but wouldn’t void the contract. Could somebody explain?

  12. A bunch of am h’aratzim here, very simple the goy only gave a deposit , he is welcome to take his purchase but that makes him liable to pay full price for his purchases.
    What happened is that when he heard how much he has to pay he backed out.

  13. My2cents has it absolutely correct (even though the part of am ha’aratzim wasn’t necessary). That’s probably exactly what the Rov told the goy You can have it at full value – bring the $$ and it’s yours. Goy backs off because now he understands

    • No, he may take the Chometz regardless. Afterwards he must pay. Conditioning the sale on future payment invalidates the entire sale.

  14. There are plenty of intelligent non-Jews ,who are pro-Jewish, more care needs to be taken in selecting the Mechirat Chometz goy!

  15. The word “goy” is a pejorative word and shouldn’t be used in general. It’s as bad as saying “shvartza”. We Jews don’t like to be called by slang terms that can be construed by some to be insulting, so let’s not do it to others.

    • What’s pejorative about Goy. I understand sheigetz is, because it comes from the word sheketz. “Goy” stam refers to gentiles as opposed to us, who are a “Goy kadosh”

  16. Since the families didn’t want to give up what they sold on demand of the buyer shows they do NOT take the sale serious. The fact that “Those he approached tried to scare him and told him that it was “a subject of holy rabbis, and he should not get involved.” They also warned him that he “might be punished from Heaven.”.Punished for what?Asking for what was his if he chose to claim it? If they looked at the sale as a farce,then they still had possession of all their chometz during Pesach.Our Rabbi z”l used to sell the congregation’s every year and the buyer would on occasion come to the shul and ask for a bottle of whiskey that he had bought.The Rabbi gladly handed it over since it was the buyer’s.

  17. OUR RABBI HAS EVERYBODY SIGN AN INDIVIDUAL SHTAR.THERE IS NO COMMUNAL SALE IN OUR SHUL.EVERY BODY IS ONE INDIVIDUAL. I THINK THIS COULD SOLVE ANY SUCH PROBLEMS.

  18. This story makes no sense on numerous levels.
    1 – The chometz was host to take, why did they stop him?
    2 – If the buyer was unaware of the final cost, then the sale may have been questionable from the start.
    3 – Anyone that tells someone that they are going to have problems with the “holy rabbis” shouldn’t be discussing halachic issues with a non-Jew.

  19. I know the story. What happened was that the Rabbi told the goy that it was his but he needs to pay fair market value aside from the deposit.
    They had explained this to the goy already, but apparently he didn’t fully understand it.
    This article has a slanted connotation because it implies that the sale was a joke and once the goy was told that it was a gimmick he backed off.

    • And yet, the goy made a down payment effecting a valid purchase. So he should have immediately, upon his request, received his property while incurring the liability for the rest of the payment.

  20. “When the goy returned on Chol Hamoed, the rov explained to him the details and the nature of the sale of chometz, and the goy then agreed to hold his demands for the food.”

    Didnt they explain the nature and details of the sale, at the time of the sale?

  21. while having a discussion about all this before pesach, someone referred to a story to prove the legitimacy of all this funny transaction stuff.
    anyone here ever hear of a case where someone ‘sold’ an entire warehouse of scotch, left out one zero of the sale price on the shtar, and was taken to court by the loh yehudi who wanted to exercise his option on pesach? according to the story, the ‘contract’ was held up in court, and the owner was required to pay the value of the merchandise.
    jewish snopes?

  22. I only wish that I could have been zocheh to have my kids see that the Goy came and asked for the Chameitz, and I gave him a bag and told him to take it. That’s showing children that selling Chameitz is real and Gemarrah is real, and Kol Chamirah is real.

    The man who told the goy to get lost might have violated his Kol Chamirah, and may have owned Chameitz on Paisach. Very scary

  23. Ultimately, the story did NOT end well. They refused to deliver property to its rightful owner. And they cast doubts upon the entire institution of mechirat hametz.

  24. For those who are commenting about his incurring the liability for payment after receiving the object: It is my understanding that kinyanim are different for non-Jews in that the kinyan is effected upon the tranfer of money rather than the transfer of goods. So a non-Jew does have to pay in full before receiving his purchase.

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