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I can't imagine it has never come up before:

Someone sells their chometz before Pesach to a non-Jew. On Pesach the non-Jew dies. What happens now?

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Does a gentile even have yorshim (also your user name makes it really hard to @ reply to) –  yydl Apr 17 '12 at 2:53
    
@yydl as he was the first to comment, you don't have to. –  Shmuel Brin Apr 17 '12 at 3:46
    
Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10115 –  msh210 Apr 18 '12 at 18:34
    
Isn't the contract usually written such that if the buyer fails to pay the balance by the end of Pesach, the sale reverts? That is, his ownership is conditional on him paying the balance of the bill, which he won't do if he died. But I've never actually seen the contract (I just give my rabbi agency), so maybe I'm wrong. –  Monica Cellio Mar 31 '13 at 21:02
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3 Answers 3

You would simply buy it back from his inheritors. For more information about how non-Jewish inheritance works, see this answer to a different question.

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Rabbi Shlomo Kluger in Sefer HaElef Lecho Shlomo Siman 221 has a very similar question where the non Jew was taken prisoner over Pesach how to purchase back the Chometz. He proposes a way to purchase it back in front of Bais Din. I do not know if this same solution would apply to a case where the non Jew passed away.

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If the non-Jew has children who knew about the sale, since according to Torah law a non-Jew inherits his father automatically - they just buy it back from the son. But if he had no children OR they didn't didn't know of the sale in which case the Chometz is Hefker then the Mahrsham permits the Chometz to be eaten after Pesach. All this is a synopsis of Teshuvos Mahrsham Vol. 6 Siman 26. Reprinted in Daas Torah Vol. 3 page 200

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Doesn't the sale also have to be legal with regard to civil law? How does that play out here? –  andrewmh20 Mar 31 '13 at 21:14
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The sale was legal, we are not concerned with the buying back if it's legal - we are concerned that on Pesach itself the Chometz should belong 100% to the non-Jew even legally. For the buying back we only concern ourselves that throughout Pesach it did not belong to the Jew - the Teshuvah is trying to find ways that the Jew's possession (=house) didn't automatically make the Jew the owner of that Chometz which will cause the Chometz to be forbidden after Pesach. –  Meir Zirkind Mar 31 '13 at 21:41
    
Moderator's note: This answer was penned to a different question and merged hither. –  msh210 Mar 31 '13 at 23:25
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