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Partnerships on Pesach


Living with a non-Jew, or non-observant Jew on Pesach can present various problematic situations. Can a non-Jew bring his chometz into your joint home? Is an insurance company permitted to insure chometz over Pesach? What is the halachah about owning shares in chometz stocks? Under what circumstances are we allowed to retain chometz in our possession? How does non-kosher chometz differ from kosher chometz? Is chometz with unacceptable kashrus certification treated differently? Can a non-Jew consume chometz on the common property during Pesach? Of this, and more, in the forthcoming article.

Partnerships with Non-Jews and Their Chometz During Pesach

In the last few articles, we discussed transferal of chometz, and the implications of chometz ownership. This week we will discuss chometz, which while on a Jew’s property, does not belong to the Jew. This kind of chometz can belong to a non-Jewish or non-observant partner in a lodging or workplace, or a medical aid who eats chometz on Pesach.

Summary of the halachos of chometz:

  • Owning chometz is prohibited.
  • Being responsible for chometz, even that does not belong to us, is prohibited.

Chometz that led a Jew to violate any of the above prohibitions, even if inadvertently, remains prohibited for consumption or benefit even after Pesach.

Responsibility can be categorized into three escalating levels of severity:

  1. Legal or halachic responsibility in the event of theft or loss of the object.
  2. An object within a person’s possession, which he is liable for in case of negligence.
  3. Safeguarding an object owned by a violent person, who will forcefully take compensation for failing to protect his property even though there is no legal or halachic requirement to safeguard it.

L’chatchila, one should avoid all three levels of responsibility.

Another machlokes refers to the location of the chometz:

Is the prohibition of responsibility only applicable if the chometz is on Jewish property, or is it forbidden for a Jew to be responsible for chometz even if it is not actually in his property? In the previous article we cited the rulings of the Sha’agas Aryeh (85) and Mishnah Berura (440:1), stating that in addition to the prohibition against having chometz in Jewish possession, there is an obligation to avoid being responsible for chometz, even if it is owned by a non-Jew and situated on the property of a non-Jew who is not the owner of the chometz. However, after Pesach, it is possible to be lenient in this last situation and rely on those who hold that there was no prohibition involved, and the chometz is not forbidden.

So, what solutions for are there for someone who has responsibility for a non-Jew’s chametz?

  • Returning the chometz to the gentile. Ideally, this is the best option.
  • Designate a spot for it. There are opinions suggesting that the prohibition of holding chometz under one’s responsibility applies only when the chometz is directly under one’s control, and one is allowed to move it from place to place. However, if one agrees with his non-Jewish partner or renter to designate a specific space for the chometz, some maintain that it is also a solution. For example, an office owner who allows employees to store foods in lockers, and assumes responsibility for the lockers’ contents, but is forbidden to go into the lockers. According to these opinions, no prohibition is involved in leaving chometz in the lockers. However, the Mishnah Baruah (440:4) rules that one should not rely on this opinion. Nevertheless, the Mishnah Brura (440:3) adds that retrospectively, after Pesach, this kind of chometz is not prohibited.
  • Selling the chometz. A simple, universally accepted solution for chometz which we own is selling it to a non-Jew. While the Torah suffices with making chometz ownerless and nullifying it, we still sell various kinds of chometz. The problem with this solution is that many opinions maintain that this solution can not apply to chometz for which one is responsible but not its owner. Since one cannot make ownerless, nullify, or sell that which is not his, chometz we are responsible for is problematic.
  • Transferring the chametz to another non-Jew: The Rema (OC 440:4) maintains that this solution is not possible, even if the third party accepts responsibility for the chometz, and even if the chometz is in his property. However, there are other lenient rulings, who maintain that chometz that is found in the house of the second non-Jew, and is not owned by the Jew, does not constitute a transgression, since it is not his, and not on his property.

When there is a sizable loss involved, the Mishna Brura rules (440:4) that it is possible to be lenient and sell the room in which the chometz is stored to a non-Jew (in order for the chometz to be considered on non-Jewish property), and the chometz itself should be sold to another non-Jew who should assume responsibility for it, so if it is lost or stolen, he will reimburse the non-Jewish owner. It is important to note: this solution should only be used as a final resort.

  • Depositing chometz with its original owner. One can also return the chometz to its owner for the duration of the holiday. In this case, even if the non-Jew refuses to take back his chometz permanently, and the Jew remains responsible for it, the Jew is considered the chometz’s insurer, and there no transgression involved (Mishna Brura 440:7).

Although being responsible for chometz is prohibited, the responsibility has to somehow link the Jew to the chometz. Here, since the Jew has no connection to the chometz — it is being safeguarded by its owner, although the Jew would have to pay if the chometz is damaged, he has no direct connection to the chometz. This is similar to gambling or purchasing stocks that depends upon the rise or fall of wheat prices, where one stands to gain or lose if the prices of wheat go up or down. Since there is no direct connection between the Jew and the wheat, there is no prohibition involved (chometz-wise).

Chometz After Pesach

Until now, we’ve addressed the question of leaving chometz in one’s property. But what happens to the chometz after Pesach? Can one benefit from the chometz post-Pesach, or is it considered chometz she’avar alav haPesach, from which benefiting is prohibited forever?

The Mishna Berura (440:1) sheds light on this issue: various opinions exist among the poskim regarding whether the prohibition of chometz she’avar alav haPesach applies to chometz that is not owned by a Jew but under Jewish responsibility. He concludes that practically, one can be lenient regarding benefiting from it, but concerning consumption, one should be stringent and refrain from eating such chometz.

Returning the chometz to the non-Jewish depositor is certainly permitted and not considered benefiting from the chometz, as the prohibition against benefiting only pertains to positive benefit, not the discharge of debts or obligations.

Chometz Under Jewish Responsibility After Pesach

Chometz that was locked up in a designated spot with the non-Jewish owner’s consent is not considered to be on Jewish property (without the owner’s consent, merely designating a spot for the chometz is ineffective) and the chometz is permitted after Pesach.

Where one did not assume any responsibility for the chometz, but its non-Jewish owner is a violent individual who would forcefully demand compensation for damages, the chometz is not forbidden after Pesach.

Chometz that was transferred to another non-Jew’s property, despite leaving all the responsibility for the chometz on the Jew while the non-Jew merely stores the chometz, one is permitted to rely on lenient opinions, and the chometz is not prohibited after Pesach.

Guidelines For Storing Non-Jewish Chometz

Until now, we’ve discussed chometz for which a Jew is responsible. However, all opinions agree that a Jew is permitted to store chometz for which he has no responsibility. Nevertheless, there are several conditions to make it permissible:

Receiving a non-Jew’s chometz on Pesach is forbidden, even if the Jew bears no responsibility whatsoever for it, and even if he will not be paid to store it.

Chometz stored on Jewish property, but for which the Jewish owner bears no responsibility, can remain on premises, however, a partition must be constructed around it to prevent Jews from seeing it on Pesach. This is to avoid the risking that the property owner will forget it is Pesach, and accidentally consume it. Chazal were more stringent with chometz than other prohibitions (we are permitted to store non-kosher items in the house with no partition around them) because we are accustomed to consuming chometz all year round, and one might momentarily forget it is Pesach and inadvertently consume chometz (OC 440:2).

The partition must be sturdy, not a sheet or curtain that flutters in the wind. If the sheet or curtain is sturdy and does not move with the wind, it is deemed sufficient (Mishna Berura 440:12). One can use a large sheet of paper as a partition to keep the chometz out of sight.

Covering the chometz with a large receptacle, such as an upside-down garbage can, is not sufficient, because one might forget and inadvertently return the receptacle to its place, leading to the inadvertent consumption of chometz. However, if the cover is used only for a short time, such as when one finds chometz on Yom Tov, and needs to keep it covered only until nightfall when it will be burned, a garbage can or box is sufficient. The same is true if, on Chol HaMoed, the chometz will be soon reclaimed by its non-Jewish owner. Here, too, an overturned garbage is sufficient (ibid 440:13).

Storing Non-Kosher Chometz

A non-Jew brought his lunch, a cheeseburger, to the office. Besides being chometz, the food is also not kosher. Can the food remain out in full view with no partition? Since one is used to being careful not to consume such foods all year round, leaving it out in full view on Pesach is permitted.

If the chometz is indeed kosher, but one abstains from consuming it due to added stringencies, for instance, pas akum for one who is meticulous to use only pas Yisroel, a partition must still be erected around it. Since it essentially kosher, the obligation to erect a partition remains.

Chometz That Requires Preparation

The poskim debate if chometz that needs extra preparation also requires a partition. Since one would never open closed packages of food that belong to another person, perhaps the food is considered off limits and no partition is required? The Mishna Brura rules (Biur halacha 440:2) that all chometz must be hidden from view with a partition, regardless of its state. However, where the item is not certainly chometz (the Mishna Brura mentions wheat, which we are uncertain if it had become wet or not), one can be lenient not to erect a partition, if the food is not available for immediate consumption.

Chometz Left With No Partition

Failing to construct a partition is a transgression, but does not cause the chometz to become forbidden after Pesach (Chazon Ish, 124:2).

A Non-Jew Eating Chometz on Jewish Property

Can a non-Jewish colleague or customer eat his sandwich in a Jewish-owned office? If the non-Jew is eating his meal, halacha is not concerned the Jew might eat from his food, and no partition must be erected around him. However, the Jew must not eat anything at the same time a non-Jew is eating chometz, out of concern that a crumb of the chometz will fall into the Jew’s meal. After eating chometz on a table, the table must be cleaned very well before eating a kosher for Pesach meal on it, to ensure no crumbs accidently make their way into food (Mishna Brura 440:17-18).

This ruling applies even when one in is the position to tell the non-Jew to please eat outside.

A non-Jew, whose employer is responsible to provide his meals, must not eat chometz on Jewish property, even food bought with his own private money. This is due to the prohibition of maris ha’ayin – people might think the Jewish employer fed his worker chometz on Pesach (Mishna Brura 440, Sha’ar Hatziyun footnote 30).


Living in the same house along with non-Jews necessitates having a conversation before Pesach to explain about chometz. One must explain about the holiday and the religious  obligation to have no ownership of chometz (leaven), nor be able to see any, and request that the non-Jew comply with Jewish law by ensuring no chametz remains in shared or private spaces owned by the Jewish partner.

A non-Jew can eat his chometz meal in joint areas.

Leaving non-kosher chometz out in full view is permissible.

When necessary, non-Jewish chometz food may be kept in one spot, into which the Jewish partner will refrain from entering over the holiday. For example, the non-Jewish partner can be asked to keep his meals only in the kitchen area, into which the Jewish worker will not enter over the holiday.

Where none of the above solutions is possible, one must seek rabbinic guidance how, and if at all, he can continue residing or working in this setup over the holiday.

A Jewish-owned office, in which some of the employees are not Jewish and store chometz in their lockers, should withdraw all responsibility for the locker contents, or give the responsibility to another non-Jew.

Intruding Chometz

What should be done with chometz that a non-Jew left on Jewish property without permission? The chometz must be surrounded by a partition. On Yom Tov one should place an overturned receptacle on top of it. If the non-Jew will not demand his chometz, the Chok Yaakov maintains that removing it is compulsory, even if it will get lost or destroyed. However, the Elya Raba maintains removing it is not necessary. From the Mishna Brura (440, Sha’ar Hatziyun footnote 29) it appears that when necessary, one can be lenient.

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