Let's say the congregational rabbi, acting as the agent for about 200 congregants sells the chametz to a Gentile before Pesach begins.

During Hol Hamo'ed, someone tells the Gentile, "You know, you're really Jewish". He provides him with sufficient proof, and behold, yes, the Gentile has been Jewish, but never knoew it until now.

What now? Does he have to immediately find another Gentile to transfer his and the congregation's Chametz? Is it that "simple", or are there other concerns or actions regarding the chametz that he must perform? Was the initial sale a valid sale, as he was Jewish at the time of sale?

  • not linked directly mishna trumot 8, 1 but may be help to develop an answer – kouty Apr 18 '16 at 4:10
  • to make an other mechira is not possible because mechira can be only before the ban. Very fine question. – kouty Apr 18 '16 at 5:41
  • Everyone has to burn, dispose of all the chomets they sold. The same as if someone found chomets on pesach. This answer seems simple to me. One must remember as you rightly say the Rabbi is your agent. You havent sold HIM your chomets. So it still belongs to you. – newcomer Apr 18 '16 at 5:52
  • @newcomer No. The chametz belongs to the Gentile during Pesach, who is actually a Jew. – DanF Apr 18 '16 at 14:43
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    well @Danf, it would seem so if it was not conditioned as in the next answer. There is also another problem it depends on the kinyan some only apply to goyim. The goy did not make meshicha. One should be "socher mkomo" but I dont think this is done. It usually is just "kesef" which doesnt apply to a Jew. – newcomer Apr 18 '16 at 16:04

It would have the status of chametz she'avar alav hapesach and it would be forbidden to derive any benefit from it. Whether the sale was conditioned on his being an actual gentile or not, the chametz was definitely owned by a Jew and any further sale would accomplish nothing in terms of it's already forbidden status.

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    Please source the above. You're implying that there is no leniency regarding an accident in this case. – DanF Apr 18 '16 at 14:41
  • There is no baisdin hefker , zohin liadam shelo bfanov, in this case? – hazoriz Apr 18 '16 at 15:28
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    @DanF While I agree sources are always an improvement, what leniency do you expect there to be? Selling chometz isn't magic - it works because it isn't owned by a Jew. If it is owned by a Jew, what accident clause should there be any more than if you forgot about your own chometz and realized it too late? The whole sale is a loophole - if you messed it up, you're back to not having the loophole. – Y     e     z Apr 19 '16 at 0:43
  • @Yez "Vayidom". The last sentence leaves me with nothing to rebut. Yeyasher kochacha. Happy Pesach. – DanF Apr 19 '16 at 2:40

Although in general, the Gemara in Pesachim 28a and 29a tells us that Chametz that a Jew owned over Passover is forbidden for benefit, there may be some exception.

29a tells us that the nature of the ban is due to a "Rabbinical penalty" imposed.

The Meiri quotes an opinion in the name of the "Chachmei Luniel" that chametz owned by a Jew over passover is permitted as long as the Jew uttered a sincere nullification before Passover (bitul). The Meiri disagrees.

The Rambam (Chametz U'Matzah 1:4) (agreeing with the Meiri) says that it is forbidden even if the ownership of the Chametz on Passover was a total accident or onus and even if the Jew was not in violation of owning or seeing his Chametz (because he made a valid bitul). This is because the Rabbis issued their ban so that people should be more careful.

Shulchan Aruch echoes this by saying that a Jew's Chametz found over Passover is forbidden for benefit even if it was an accident or onus. (O.C. 449:3 and 5)

However, the Be'er Heytiv on 449:3 brings differing opinions. He explains that the language of the S.A. leaves some room. Does a person who performed a valid bitul and afterwards found Chametz by accident, need to treat the found Chametz as forbidden or permitted? (The lenient opinions would claim the S.A.'s strict stance against accidents only applies if they accidentally forgot to make a valid bitul as well.)

He says the authorities are split on the question. He brings the opinion that in the case of a great loss, you may rely on the lenient view to permit benefit (sale). (but perhaps not eating it outright?)

The Mishnah Berurah 448:9 brings a case that happened. A Jew left wheat in a mill by a certain Gentile (the wheat was not Chametz yet and he left it through Passover). The Gentile wanted to do the Jew a favor. So, he ground the wheat for the Jew on the 7th day of Passover and made it into Chametz bread for him. Right after the holiday, he gave the Jew "fresh baked" bread. Since it was the Jew's wheat and it became Chametz on Passover, can the Jew benefit from the bread or eat it now after the holiday?

One opinion (a posek named "Beis Hillel) is that it may be sold but shouldn't be eaten.

But, the Beis Meir holds that although accidental ownership of Chametz on Passover is forbidden, not all accidents are the same! Since the event of the Gentile deciding to make it into Chametz on Passover and deliver it to the Jew is so far fetched, no one could be required to think of this happening. Therefore, the Rabbis never penalized cases like this one. So the Jew may eat the bread without reservation. (This is true even though there was no bitul!)

So too, the OP's case is so strange and unforeseeable, that no one should be penalized to "be more careful" to find out that every Gentile is really not a long lost Jew! Furthermore it is a case of extremely great loss as 200 households would suffer financial loss and inconvenience! (they all also presumably made a valid bitul before the holiday.) It is also a famous general rule throughout Gemara and poskim that "Milsa d'lo shechichah, lo gazru bei Rabbanan". The Rabbis did not enact decrees upon far-fetched, unlikely cases.

Therefore, although Chametz is usually forbidden for benefit even due to accident or onus; the case of the OP would seem to be permitted in that the 200 households may at least sell the Chametz or even eat it themselves due to all of the above exceptions.

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  • Can you provide a link for "Beis Meir"? as well as where you saw "Milsa d'lo shechichah, lo gazru bei Rabbanan"? – DanF Mar 5 '18 at 19:13

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