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Chametz that was not sold

As a safeguard, our rabbis prohibited to eat or benefit from any chametz which was in the possession of a Jew during Pesach [Rambam Chametz U'matza 1:4; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 448:3]. Such chametz, referred to as “chametz she’avar alav haPesach”, is not only prohibited after Pesach, but remains prohibited as long as that chametz remains in existence, and nothing can be done to permit it! [Pri Chadash, ibid.] 

However, as a rabbinic decree, if the food that was in the possession of a Jew only contained a minimal amount of chametz, mixed with other non-chametz ingredients the prohibition of “chametz sh’eavar alav haPesach” does not apply [Mishna Berura 447:101]. So too, inedible products containing chametz such as make-up, perfumes, shampoos, and cleaning products are not subject to “chametz she’avar alav haPesach” [Magen Avraham Orach Chaim 447: 46]

If one is unsure whether or not a particular food item is subject to the rules of “chametz she'avar alav haPesach” one may derive benefit from the item, though it is forbidden to eat it [Magen Avraham Orech Chaim 449:2] In the event, of significant financial loss, those doubtful items may also be eaten [however, that not being able to eat these items will cause one significant financial loss, then they may be eaten, as well [Shulchan Aruch Harav Orach Chaim 448:3]. Similarly, one who was unaware of the prohibition, such as a “Ba’al Teshuva” is exempt from any penalty [Rivivot Ephraim 5:312].

When one buys chametz products from Jewish-owned stores and supermarkets after Pesach one is required to ensure that the owner had sold his chametz before Pesach in a mechirat chametz. According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, even if the store remained open and sold chametz during Pesach, the mechirat chametz is still valid, and therefore, after Pesach one may purchase food from the store [Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:149, 2: 91]. 

However, chametz that was purchased by a Jewish-owned store during Pesach may still be a problem. According to Rabbi Pinchas M. Teitz, even such chametz is permitted to be purchased after Pesach. However, Rabbi Feinstein disagreed [Iggrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:96] and did not consider it possible to sell the chametz acquired by supermarkets during Pesach. 

As a result, according to his opinion, one cannot purchase chametz in a Jewish-owned supermarket—even if we know that the chametz in that supermarket was sold prior to Pesach—until it is reasonable to assume that the majority of inventory was either purchased before or after the eight days of Pesach.

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyyar 5784