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When did the practice of selling the Chametz begin?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Chametz | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The sale of Chametz to a non-Jew before Passover is already mentioned in the Mishnah.1 The Mishnah discusses a normal sale, where the Jew would get rid of his chametz before Passover by selling it to a non-Jew.


Before the age of durable foods and refrigeration it was never really necessary to sell chametz for the purpose of buying it back after Passover. After all, unprocessed wheat or flour are not (necessarily2) chametz and baked goods anyway won't last nine days. The necessity for these sort of "sales" really started when many Jews went into the liquor business and needed to find a way to preserve their stock for after Passover.

Before the age of durable foods and refrigeration it was never really necessary to sell chametz for the purpose of buying it back after Passover.

The first mention of such sales is found in the words of the Bach, Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, a 17th century Halachic authority, and in the next century many halachic authorities debated the validity and details of these sales.

Footnotes

  • 1. Mishnah tractate Pesachim 2:1 and 6-7
  • 2. Mass produced flour that you buy in the supermarket today, is Chametz. See http://www.askmoses.com/article/199,2067187/Is-plain-flour-Kosher-for-Passover.html

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Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Mishnah
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.