We go to great lengths to ensure that our pre-Pesach chametz sale is effective according to halacha. Thus, we effect the sale via various means of acquisition: kinyan kesef, kinyan sudar, kinyan agav karka, kinyan chatzer, and hefker bes din. We also write a sales contract, which is halachically effective, Rabbi Chaim Jachter explains, not as kinyan sh'tar, but as a part of the kinyan kesef or as a situmta.

Do we try to ensure that that contract be enforceable according to local (non-Jewish) law, e.g. in secular courts, or is that not important?

I suspect we may, since we're using it as situmta (the way people transact business), and people transact business with enforceable contracts. On the other hand, maybe the form of the transaction (viz, with a contract) is what makes it a situmta and not the details (e.g., enforceability of the contract). (I honestly don't know much about how situmta works.)

One possible relevance of this question is the sales contract in France. In the United States, as far as I know, the contract is written in Hebrew. (The gentile, in most cases at least, cannot read it himself, but it's explained to him and of course he can hire a professional translator if he so desires.) However, I'm told that no contract is enforceable in France unless it's in French.


2 Answers 2


Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky writes:

The sale of chametz must be fully binding under Jewish law, and some authorities require that it meet local legal standards as well.

However, this is one of the rare statements in that article that is not footnoted, so we have no clue who these authorities might be.

In this comprehensive article by Rabbi Yosef Fleischmann, it is repeated, and a source is cited, and for those who cannot read Hebrew, it is the Haggaddah of Rav Moshe Shternbuch:

(ועדיף לעשות מכירת חמץ בצורה שמועילה על פי חוק. (הגדה של פסח להגר”מ שטרנבוך שליט”א

Finally, I found the extensive summary I was looking for, an excellent Blog Post by Yitzhak on "Bein Din Ledin". (See also fn1 here.) Here are some quotes (I have added the footnoted sources to the opinions, but many of the full Hebrew quotes are available at that link):

R. Baruch Teomim–Fränkel considered it at least possible that the legal invalidity of our sales engenders a halachic problem. (Shu"t Ateres Chachamim Choshen Mishpat 15)

His son-in-law R. Chaim Halberstam of Sanz, on the other hand, insisted that the halachah is concerned only with its internal rules, and that the status of our sales in the eyes of the secular legal system is utterly irrelevant to us. (Shu"t Divrei Chaim 2 Orach Chaim 37)

The Hasam Sofer (as well as the great Galician authority Rav Avraham David Wahrman of Buczacz [“the Botchatcher”], whose stance here is consistent with his previously discussed position regarding a כתובה written on unstamped paper) seem to concede that in principle, the legal invalidity of a sale could engender a halachic problem, but they maintain that the law does not actually deem our sales of חמץ to be invalid. (Shu"t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 113, and Shu"t Neta Shaashuim, Azharas Rav Avraham Mibutchatch, Introduction 3)

Here are some Google Books search results for further reading, some of these results deal directly with the possible relevant question you mentioned.

Also, the aforementioned blog author has a short audio Shiur on this here.


The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in סימן קיד - דיני מכירת חמץ mentions twice that the document has to be valid locally.

First time: When explaining the concept, he says וְלֹא יְהֵא הַדָּבָר כְּחוֹכָא בְּעָלְמָא, אֶלָּאכְּדֶרֶךְ הַסּוֹחֲרִים מַמָּשׁ - "the sale shouldn't be treated as a joke, rather it needs to be done exactly the way merchants do business."

Hard to believe that the average non-Jew would sign a huge purchase on a document in gobbledygook; a foreign alphabet and language.

Second time: At the end of his sale-document template it says כָּל זֶה] נַעֲשָׂה בְּכָל אֹפֶן הַיּוֹתֵר] מוֹעִיל עַל פִּי דִין תּוֹרָתֵנוּ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה,וְעַל פִּי נִמּוּסֵי הַקִּירָ"ה וְהַמְּדִינָה.‏ - "[all the above] is done in the best method by Torah law and by the laws and customs of the king and the country."

It seems to imply that if the document is not enforceable under secular law then it's not a valid sale. If this means it needs to be written in the local legal language then the Kitzur seems to imply that it has to be done.

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    The first diyuk is very weak - he's just saying not to turn it into a joke, he doesn't say anything about local validity. I feel like your argument would be stronger without it. Jan 31, 2018 at 13:22
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    Re: the second one - it could have just been that in those days the government required that all sales be valid according to them, not that this was a religious requirement. Or, it could be that he just thinks this is an admirable Chumra, but there is no proof that he holds it's not a valid sale if it's not legal according to local laws. -1 Jan 31, 2018 at 13:23

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