I live in Chutz lo’oretz but want to sell my chametz on your website. Will I not have a problem at the end of Pesach because you are in Israel and will buy back the chametz from the goy while it is still Pesach for me in Chutz lo’oretz and I still may not own chametz?
Before we answer your question we should clarify what happens when one submits a form to sell his chametz and point out other issues that one must be aware of when he sells his chametz via a rabbi who is situated in a different time zone.
The form that one fills out when he wants to sell his chametz is a form that appoints the rabbi to act as his agent to sell his chametz to a non-Jew. The rabbi does not buy people’s chametz from them. He agrees to serve as the agent-shliach to sell the chametz of those who request this service. Thus, when one gives the rabbi his signed form he is thereby empowering the rabbi to serve as his agent. The rabbi needs this form because one cannot sell another person’s belongings without his permission. What is important for the ensuing discussion is that since the rabbi is empowered to sell one’s chametz, he must realize that his sale is effective when the rabbi actually sells chametz – not before and not after.
A second issue which is important to clarify – because it is the reason these issues are quite frequent – is the time a person must sell his chametz if he is in one place and his chametz is in a different place. The issue is commonplace today since many people spend Pesach away from home. For example, if a person travels to the U.S. for Pesach but leaves his chametz in Israel, as many young couples do, does it suffice if he sells his chametz before the time when chametz is sold in the U.S., or must he sell it before the time in Eretz Yisroel since his chametz is there?
One of the first poskim to discuss this question is the Oneg Yom Tov (res. 36). He offers proof that even if the owner of the chametz is in a place where one may benefit from chametz, nevertheless, he may not derive benefit from his chametz if it is in a place where one may no longer benefit from chametz. This is crucial since one cannot sell chametz from which he may not derive benefit since it is no longer considered his. Thus, according to his opinion, one who has chametz in Israel but traveled to the U.S. for Pesach must sell the chametz that is in Eretz Yisroel when people in Israel sell their chametz.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (OC 4, 94-5), maintains that one must sell his chametz before chametz becomes prohibited in the place where the owner is in order to avoid violating the prohibition of owning chametz on Pesach–bal yeiro’eh. Nevertheless he is also of the opinion that the prohibition of deriving benefit from one’s chametz depends on the location of the chametz. For example, if one who has chametz in the U.S. visits Eretz Yisroel for yom tov, while he can sell his chametz like anyone else in Eretz Yisroel, he must not repurchase his chametz after Pesach before Pesach ends in the U.S. Similarly, a young couple who travels to the U.S. from Israel for Pesach should sell the chametz that they left behind in Israel, when people in Israel sell their chametz. While they need not sell the chametz that is with them in the U.S. and they may still eat chametz there, he maintains that they should sell their chametz that is in Israel when Israelis sell their chametz.
The Chessed Le’avrohom (OC 1, 35) disagrees with the Oneg Yom Tov and writes that it is obvious to him that one may not own chametz if he is in a place where it is prohibited to own chametz even if his chametz is in a place where chametz is still permitted. The Mikroei Kodesh (Pesach 73) suggests that it is possible to agree with both opinions and maintain like Rav Moshe that both are correct i.e. that one may not own chametz if he is in a place where one may no longer own chametz but at the same time he may not benefit from chametz that is situated in a place where people may not derive benefit from their chametz.
Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Mo’adim Uzemanim Pesach 37, 4) writes exactly like Rav Moshe, that the prohibition against owning chametz on Pesach–bal yeiro’eh depends on the location of the owner but the prohibition of deriving benefit from one’s chametz (issur hano’oh) depends on the location of the chametz. He writes that many tourists in Eretz Yisroel unwittingly violate the issur to own chametz on Pesach because they sell their chametz to their local rabbi in chutz lo’oretz who only sells their chametz after the time when one who is in Israel may not own chametz.
Another issue that a traveler must be aware of is, for example, if one who is in the U.S. for Pesach but sold his chametz using a rabbi who is in Eretz Yisroel, purchases chametz after the rabbi sold chametz to the goy. This chametz will not be included in his sale and he must destroy this chametz before it is Pesach in the U.S. or sell it to a goy by using a rabbi who is in the U.S. The reason is that since the Jew in chutz lo’oretz did not own this chametz at the time the rabbi in Israel sold the chametz, this chametz was not included in the rabbi’s sale because one cannot sell chametz that he does not yet own. Therefore, if the Jew in the U.S. fails to eradicate this chametz he will violate the prohibition of owning chametz on Pesach and he will not be able to use the chametz even after Pesach because the chametz will have the status of chametz she’ovar olov haPesach–chametz which was owned by a Jew on Pesach which one may not derive benefit from.
Another pitfall that a Jew who traveled from Israel to the U.S. but sold his chametz through his Israeli rov must be careful to avoid is using chametz after the time it was sold. Even though one is still allowed to eat chametz in the U.S. nonetheless the person in the U.S. may not use chametz that he owned at the time his rov in Eretz Yisroeil sold chametz since it was sold to the goy.
All the above issues concern the beginning of Pesach, whereas your question concerns the end of Pesach. Your concern is that when the rov in Israel repurchases chametz from the goy, you will own chametz while it is still Pesach for you
Before answering your question we should clarify how chametz is sold and repurchased from the goy. Nowadays, when the rov sells chametz he sells it to the goy for its full value, which will be determined by three assessors after Pesach (See e.g. the Chut Shani, Ribbis page 231.). The goy actually only gives a small sum of money as a down payment in order to consummate the sale and the balance is a loan to the goy which must be paid after Pesach.
Since the sale is a real sale, the poskim (e.g. Bigdei Yesha res. 2, section 4 who is cited by Biyur Halocho siman 448) rule that the rabbi should perform an actual kinyan by giving the goy a small amount of money when he repurchases the chametz.
Generally the rabbi acts as an agent to purchase back the chametz of those who used him as an agent to sell their chametz, even though people do not appoint him to repurchase their chametz. Rav Moshe Feinstein (OC 4, 94) says that one who is in chutz lo’oretz or has chametz in chutz lo’oretz but sold his chametz by a rov in Israel should tell the Rav at the time that he appoints him to sell his chametz that he is not appointing him to act as his agent to repurchase his chametz before Pesach ends for those in the U.S. Thus, when the rabbi repurchases from the goy everything that he originally sold him, the person who did not appoint him to act as his agent will not acquire his chametz, and therefore, the chametz will belong to the rabbi. Later when Pesach is over in the U.S. the person from the U.S. can repurchase his chametz from the rabbi.
The Minchas Yitzchok (6, 45) also addresses the problem of repurchasing chametz. He reasons that according to the strict halachah it is not necessary for the rabbi to do a formal act (a kinyan) to repurchase the chametz from the goy. His proof is that if the rabbi must perform a formal act to repurchase the chametz he would require a document empowering him to act as an agent on behalf of all those whose chametz he sold to the goy. The fact that he does not require such a document proves that really he does not need to perform an act of kinyan in order to repurchase the chametz. The reason he does not need to make a kinyan is that since the goy needs to pay for any chametz that the decides to keep, the goy’s failure to take the chametz from the Jewish seller’s property and pay for it shows clearly that he wishes to reverse his original sale. The only reason the poskim like the Bigdei Yesha and Biyur Halocho ruled that the rabbi should make a kinyan is in order that people should not think that selling chametz is not real. However, even though it is real, a formal act of kinyan is not really required in order to repurchase the chametz.
Therefore, he says that what really happens when the rabbi repurchases the chametz is that he repurchases it on his own behalf. However, just like the goy has to pay for the chametz if he wants to retain possession, so too the rabbi must pay the full value if he wants to retain possession of the seller’s chametz. Therefore, the same argument as before applies to the rabbi namely, the rabbi’s failure to take the chametz out of the seller’s property and to pay for it shows that he does not wish to retain ownership of the chametz . Therefore when the seller takes the chametz back he acquires his chametz even if he doesn’t say anything to the rabbi.
Some rabbonim in Israel explicitly say at the time of repurchase that they do not reacquire for those who do not want to reacquire their chametz at that time, reacquire it later when they want it.
In conclusion: One who is in chutz lo’oretz does not have a problem at the end of Pesach even though he sold his chametz with a rabbi in Israel who buys chametz back from the goy before Pesach ends for him. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein he should tell the rabbi at the time he wishes to reacquire his chametz but according to the Minchas Yitzchok this is not necessary. However, there are other issues that he must be careful to avoid, at the beginning of Pessach.