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  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Cleaning, Checking & Burning Chametz

Neighbor throws bread crumbs on Pesach


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 10, 5782
My upstairs neighbor (whom I have never met) regularly tosses bread crumbs and seeds off their balcony for the birds. A lot of this mix falls through their planked balcony and gets onto my ground level patio, which is annoying enough when I just want to sit outside being harassed by pigeons, or when it covers my plants up. Now though, with Pesach approaching, how do I have the conversation with them (again, still have never met them!) that they need to stop? Does my patio count as part of the house I need to extricate all chametz from anyways? (I still would like to talk to them but I an afraid of being met with passive aggression and an even bigger deluge of bread.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Firstly, yes, your patio, and garden all count as part of your property when it comes to Pessach. (If you have a locker in the gym, or a desk at work, etc, all these places also need to be considered when it comes to your Pessach observance). So, if you have any chametz you may not keep it on your patio. However, in this case, it isn’t your chametz – it’s your neighbor’s. Or, probably more exactly, it is ownerless as soon as they throw it to the birds. Generally, one’s property (your patio, garden, courtyard or house etc) could automatically acquire an object for you. So, if someone left a free sample on your porch, for example, it would automatically become yours, even if you didn’t know about it, as we assume that you desire the acquisition. But, in this case, you certainly do not want to take ownership of the Chametz. In fact, you should make a statement to that effect when you do your Bedikat Chametz, on Thursday night – “I declare that I do not want my property to acquire any Chametz that enters into it during the days of Pessach”. By saying this, one makes extra certain that any Chametz that a non-Jew puts (or in your case, drops) into your property does not become yours, and you do not violate the laws of Pessach. (See Mishna Brurah 448, 5-6). Chag Same'ach.
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