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Danger: Complicated hypothetical question

In my office there are some hefker chometz sandwiches on chol hamoed pesach and on a nearby intersection there is frequently a non jewish beggar (Beggar A).

1a) May I act as the beggar's agent (without his knowledge but for his benefit) acquire the sandwiches and bring them to the beggar?

1b) Is the pleasure of effectively giving tzedaka considered hanaah?


Once I take the sandwiches and get down the the intersection, Beggar A is not there, but Beggar B is.

2a) I want to be able to give to either beggar so may I acquire the sandwiches for Beggar A on condition that he is there but acquire them for Beggar B on condition that Beggar A is not there?

2b) In case a beggar that I had not considered is there, may I acquire on behalf of whichever begger is at the intersection that day without having a specific person in mind?

(Assume there will always be someone there.)

  • Why would you think you could acquire it at all? Isn't that one of the big no-nos? – Scimonster Mar 29 '15 at 9:19
  • I am not acquiring it, the beggar is acquiring it. – Clint Eastwood Mar 29 '15 at 12:23
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    Can you move an object that is hefker with the express intent to preclude a kinyan? If so, the easiest is just to carry them downstairs, let them remain hefker, and let the beggars choose for themselves. – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 29 '15 at 17:40
  • If it works, it would be the best solution. – Clint Eastwood Mar 29 '15 at 18:06
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The Rivash, in Responsa 41, cited by Rema in Orach Chayim 450:6, writes that it is forbidden to purchase chometz for a non-Jew on Pesach, even using the money of the non-Jew to make the purchase.

The Rivash has two points which he makes in forbidding this. The second, that the Jew is responsible for the chometz while it is under the jurisdiction of the Jew, as the Jew has to successfully deliver it to the non-Jew (and the Rivash considers that proxy may not be effective for a non-Jew), is not directly applicable here (although the assumption that the proxy does not work is relevant).

The first point that he makes, however, is very relevant. The Rivash forbids making the acquisition on behalf of the non-Jew out of a concern that the Jew may come to eat the chometz while he is involved with obtaining it. This is parallel to the concerns that predicated the requirement to check for chometz even though we nullify it - lest you come upon chometz and then end up eating it. This would seem to apply quite directly to this case.

The Rivash's assumption (which is the halachic conclusion of Shulchan Aruch Hoshen Mishpat 188:1) that a Jew cannot work through proxy for a non-Jew would also mean that the acquisition does not take effect at the time of your acquiring the chometz, so in a purely monetary discussion (ignoring the Pesach issues), you could give it to whichever beggar you wished.

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