Question:

When one is shopping in a store during Pesach, which contains both kosher and non-kosher foods, and one is approached by a fellow customer, who may or may not be Jewish, and that customer requests that one should take down an item from a certain shelf (because he is unable to reach that shelf/ item himself), and that item is chametz, what should one do?

Would it make a difference if you knew for certain that the person is a Jew, or you knew for certain that he is a Non Jew?

Answer:

Although it is forbidden to touch chametz on Pesach, for fear that the person will come to eat it (see Orach Chaim 446:3, and Magen Avraham 5; Mishnah Berurah 10), this applies to circumstances where there is a concern for eating the chametz. Under these circumstances, where the chametz is sealed, this concern will not apply, and there is therefore no problem.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Handing Over Chametz During Pesach”

  1. There is a prohibition to derive [any] benefit from chametz during Pesach, and this is a biblical prohibition. Perhaps handing the chametz to the other shopper is to be considered a benefit, since the other person will be grateful to you? For example, even to give chametz as a gift to a goy – even a random goy – is forbidden. Plus, one has pleasure from helping another person, and perhaps this is also considering deriving benefit from the chametz.

    If the other shopper is a Jew, perhaps it is forbidden, since one is not allowed to assist another Jew in doing an aveira, especially in this case where the other Jew will transgress the sin of purchasing this chametz and subsequently eating it (perhaps during Pesach, which is an issur kares). Without my help, the Jew would not have been able to take down the chametz on his own, since he is not that tall (as I mentioned in my original question). Although perhaps he could have asked someone else for help, but still, it is wrong for one Jew to assist another in doing a sin.

    In addition, it is forbidden to pick up/ touch chametz, not just – as the rav mentioned – because of a concern that I may come to eat it, but also because, according to some rabbis, one acquires the chametz by virtue of picking it up with his hand. In this case, one obviously does not ‘acquire’ the chametz, since it belongs to the store and it is necessary to pay for it first – BUT one nevertheless assumes financial responsibility for the chametz when he takes it into his hand. If the chametz is, let’s say, a bottle of whiskey, and this whiskey were to fall from my hand and spill or otherwise get destroyed before I handed it to the other fellow, the store manager might force me to pay for it. So we see that by taking it into my hand, I assume financial responsibility for this chametz in the event that it were to be damaged or destroyed.

    Moreover, if it did fall from my hand, I would do everything in my power to make sure that it did not fall on the floor and get ruined (i.e., I would try to catch it mid-air). This shows that I desire the existence of this chametz, which seemingly is problematic. I believe that in halachic terminology, this would be called Rotze Bekiyumo (“he desires its existence”).

    Moreover, I believe that the M”B says that if some goy’s chametz went onto my roof, I should push it off with a stick (on Chol Hamoed), and not with my hand. Here, there is no concern that I will eat some goy’s chametz (since it does not belong to me, I will not come to eat it), but nevertheless I cannot touch it with my hand.

    A clarification (in response to the above points) would be much appreciated. A kosher and happy Pesach

    • – handing it over is not benefitting from the chametz you don’t own, he will be thankful for your kindness, not gift
      – should not hand to a Jew, but need not assume is a Jew, unless you have some indication
      – taking in hand is not “kabalas shemira” or achrayus/ financial responsibility, he will be careful and catch it if he drops it because he does not want to be “adam hamazik”, a damager liable for his actions, one may not damage a non Jews chametz on Peasch
      – See Shulchan Aruch 446:3 regarding a non Jew’s chametz on your roof, see Mishna Brura who explains because you may come to eat it. This Mechaber and M”B actually prove the point that the only concern for another’s chametz is coming to eat it ודו”ק

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