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  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Chametz Sale

Selling chametz when I don’t know


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 10, 5781
Hi there, Last year I had a chance to email a Chabad rabbi who told me that I should sell my chametz, and I did, and I still live in the same situation but a few details have changed since then, so I wanted to verify if I still need to sell my chametz this year. I live with my family whom are secular. Nothing in the house will be kosher for Pesach unfortunately, but I took extra care to make sure that out of my money I purchase as much matzah as I could afford, to be more than enough for the holiday, and I unfortunately was not able to buy “‘kosher for Passover” regular staples of food as I do not understand enough on how to do that in the rainforest that we are in (we are amongst the only Jews living in this area...) I am taking care to clean as much of the house as I can as a rabbi in Israel I often watch classes of says it is very important in all cases. I personally own, with my own money, 7 stainless water thermoses (2 of which with a coating on the outside of a coloured exterior material) 1 set of 30 piece stainless steel cutlery, one stainless steel normal cold-water only stainless water bottle, and one tiny stainless thermos. My problem is two fold-one, I am not the sole user of these items, my family shares in them regularly, and I cannot ask of them to stop using these items during Pesach because it will cause Major Major fighting here. Secondly, as much as I try to study, understand the full halachic implications of chametz or tools touched by them. What I’m worried about is: What if I sell and nullify all of my chametz, but there is a piece or two that I might own and not remember that counts as chametz, that I or someone in my household might use during Pesach? Was I dishonest in selling them? What if I sell my cutlery and bottles and try to keep them sort of away but my family might use it during Pesach? What if by selling and not understanding the full implications I’ve somehow done something wrong? (last year I just elegantly hid a few of these items and prayed they won’t notice, as well as prayed they won’t use the ones I didn’t hide. This year I have less hiding room, but I can atoll pray they won’t use them). And the thermoses I use to try to make sure my family will not come to boil hot water for tea on Shabbat (almost every time I forget to fill them, they do) So...last year the rabbi said that certain water bottles don’t have to be sold as chametz, but others do, that I should sell my chametz anyway, and that well elaborate on why after Pesach. Sadly we never got around to it, so I would like to understand if to sell them or not. I just don’t want to do anything dishonest by G-d. I am also not sure that I will be able to kasher items for Pesach...I am not entirely sure what that entails but I think I understand it involves filling a sink with boiling water.....I’m not sure that’s something I will be able to do in our shared kitchen....and what if I do have an option to lasher one item but then one of my family uses it for something not kosher for Pesach, is that my fault...?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You should sell your chametz online. Do not worry about anything – selling your chametz is fine and is certainly better in all ways than not selling it. You are not selling utensils – only chametz. The utensils are put away because one is not allowed to use non kosher for Passover vessels on Passover. But you are not selling them – only chametz. Even if you imagine you have no chametz, you should sell your chametz. Even if someone were to end up eating some chametz they sold – they would have violated the law of eating a non-Jews chametz, but on the other hand, they would not have violated the constant prohibition of owning chametz during Passover. So, you should sell your chametz – and you can sell the chametz for your whole family in their name, even if they do not know about it. If they end up eating it, that is not your problem. Do not cause fights in the house – just do what you can within the possibilities you have. You should try your best to do what you can – do not worry about what you cannot do, or what is not in your hands to do. Have a wonderful Passover.
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