I have been thinking and reading a lot about this concept of selling our chametz.
- To be honest I think it’s wrong since today no one really takes it seriously and if a goy came to their house to take it they would fight him away (it’s actually happened). I dont want to sell half my house like most people who just close cupboards don’t check sell them. I will sell liquors and foods, lotions, etc… but knowing I have money to replace it if needed. My question is what is the actual halacha of cleaning?
- Do I have to take a toothpick to every toy and check for every tiny crumb in every cupboard?
- And clothes checking every inch if any crumb got stuck.
- Also appliances in the kitchen. If I clean my oven very very good and everything else, so I have to sell it?
- It was douched with chemicals and cleaners, doesn’t that nullify?
- Also when we do bedikas chamtez we nullify anything we didn’t find. Doesn’t that count?
- And owning so many possessions we can rely on this nullification because its almost impossible to check everything we own even though most things shouldn’t have chametz in it. What does H-ashem expect?
- How hard and crazy does the torah say you need to go? I don’t think decluttering and organizing your house is considered working hard for pesach and then selling half the kitchen so you dont have to clean it.
What does the torah REALLY say to do?
It looks like you have been doing a lot of thinking about Pesach, and you ae bringing up a lot of very valid points. Let’s go through them one by one.
- According to Halacha, if the sale was done correctly, then it is sold to the goy, therefore technically it is permitted. However as you mention, many people don’t take it seriously, and if we see that they don’t take it seriously, it can ruin the validity of the sale. For example, if a person is going to use the items that were “sold to the goy” on pesach, or by not let the goy get his chometz, this shows that they aren’t serious about it. In general though, we try to make the sale in a genuine way, and many rabbanim make sure that the contract is written correctly, that the goy knows exactly where the chometz is, and that he knows where the key is. Also, as you mentioned, if the goy actually wants to keep the chometz or use it, that he should be allowed to.
When you sell your chometz to the goy you are not selling, your house to him, neither are you selling him your pots and pans. If you did, then after Pesach you would have to tovel everything again, like when we acquire something from a goy. What is being done is merely selling him any chometz that might have been left inside, or absorbed in the pots and pans. You are not selling him your cupboards, but you are renting it to him, in order that the chometz be considered in his property over Pesach, and not merely the goy’s chometz being stored in your property.
When you sell your whiskey etc. to the goy, you do not have to make sure that you have enough money to buy new bottles. The way the sale works is that the goy gives the Bais Din a down payment for everything that he is acquiring. (Between everyone’s chometz and various stores it can go into 100’s of thousands of dollars worth of chometz) Then, after Pesach, the goy has the choice, to either sell the chometz that he bought (at a higher price than the down payment that he gave), or to pay to whole sum of the net value of what he bought. If the goy will decide that he wants to actually keep your chometz, he will have to pay the Bais Din for its real value, and you will be reimbursed for your whiskey.
- Regarding cleaning for Pesach, there is a big difference between cleaning the kitchen or places that we night inadvertently ingest chometz, to cleaning the rest of the house to make sure that we don’t have edible chometz in our possession over Pesach. When we clean the rest of the house we are looking for chometz the size of a kzayis, (about an ounce), or something even smaller that might get eaten, (i.e. a pretzel in decent condition). We are not looking for a crumb, under the closet that is moldy or dusty. That is not chometz… it is garbage. If someone wants to clean his house even for such chometz, “Yisroel Kidoshim Heim”, but it is an extra, and if it going to cause you to undue stress and tension, and it will cause you to hate Pesach, then don’t do it. Keep your energy for the important things.
There is a difference between cleaning toys with toothpick to cleaning the kitchen cupboards. For the toys, unless they are going to come to the Pesach table, just have to be checked for a k’zayis or any edible chometz. You do not have to clean each toy with a toothpick. It is a good idea to put detergent etc. into the water you are cleaning the toys with, so that anything that you miss will automatically become inedible. Toys can also be put into a mesh bag and washed in the washing machine.
Regarding the kitchen cupboards, that is a different story. We are not allowed to eat even one crumb of chometz. Therefore chometz that is in a place that it can get moved around and find its way into our food must be totally removed. Therefore the cupboards should be cleaned well. Again use a detergent in the cleaning water, so that whatever you touch, even if you don’t get it all off, will become inedible, and then you are fine.
Aside from this, we have to make sure that any utensils etc. that we use do not have absorbed chometz inside them. Therefore we have to kasher our oven etc. or use a different one for Pesach.
- You do not have to check every inch of every article of clothing for a crumb that got stuck, however the clothes that you will be eating with, should be very clean. This is because that crumb can fall on to the table and get eaten.
- If your oven was cleaned well, and you aren’t using it for Pesach, technically you don’t have to sell it. However it is a good idea to include it in the sale of chometz, because there may be crumbs etc. that fell into places you didn’t get to, and an accumulation of those crumbs (being that they are in one vessel) may amount to a kzayis.
- Douching things with a chemical will help for small amounts of chometz that are visible, but it will not nullify absorbed chometz. Therefore it is a good idea to clean with it, but we will still need “pesachdik” utensils, cookware, etc. and to cover any area that has absorbed chometz in it that we are going to use on Pesach.
- It is true, that we make all of our chometz null and void. However even after that chazal said we must actually get rid of the chometz from our possession, because we might forget ourselves and come to eat, or as you already mentioned, some people might not really be serious about nullifying their expensive chometz, and may come to use it on Pesach.
- We do the best we can, by ridding ourselves of the chometz as written above and nullifying it. H-shem doesn’t expect us to do more than we can. We have clear guidelines of what we have to do, and after that we should not be nervous about it, and we have to make sure to enjoy the Yom Tov.
- The torah does not tell us to go crazy! Much of the unneeded tension comes from “doing spring cleaning”, trying to unclutter the closets, wash the walls etc. and doing all sorts of extras, that are nice, but only if we can handle it. Again it is nice to come into Yom Tov when everything is sparkling, but not at the price of making yourself tense. If doing all these things causes us to abhor the Yom Tov, then it is yetzer hora to do it. Unfortunately there is also a lot of social pressure to pesach cleaning, with many people bragging about, “where they are holding”, and about how much they have done, etc. and this causes many others undue stress.
To summarize: There is a lot to do for pesach, but what has to be done is not quite as much as some people are doing, and before we do all the extras, we must make sure that it will not negatively affect our attitude towards this very special Yom Tov.
I am attaching a copy of an article from R’ Yitzchok Berkowitz shlit”a titled “Pesach Cleaning made easy”. Many of the guidelines that I mentioned can be found here, and I hope you will find it helpful.