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If someone founds chametz in their house during Pesach the Shulchan Aruch writes that if it's Chol HaMoed one must go out and burn it immediately and if it's Yom Tov ne should put a cli over it and then after Yom Tov burn it (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 446 Sif 1.) However how does this din apply nowadays in a case where a person "sold" their chametz to a goy before Pesach. While generally they sell all the chametz that is in a particular location, however many also write "b'col makom shehu" (in any place that chametz is found.) If a person would find a cookie or piece cake or a slice of bread in a random place in their house, what should be done with it? Does it "belong" to the goy and therefore should be set aside for them? Or should it be burned like it says in Shulchan Aruch?

(I have hard time imagining the goy caring about a dry piece of bread, but if the sell is supposed to be real then maybe it really does belong to him.)

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The Mikra’ei Kodesh, ((Laws of)Pesach 1:74) writes that nowadays when people sell all of their chametz (your contract says "and all Chametz wherever it may be found") it is prohibited to take the forgotten chametz to burn it. The reason is (besides the fact that stealing from the Gentile is prohibited) that if one were to physically take the Chametz to burn it he would actively violate the prohibition against owning Chametz, because he becomes a thief (he stole the Gentile's Chametz!)and is responsible to return the Chametz to the gentile who purchased it (see Magen Avraham 586:5, who states that one who steals Chametz from a gentile is responsible for it and it is considered his Chametz by virtue of that responsibility). Although his intent is not to steal in order to assume ownership, nevertheless, even taking another’s possession with the intent to destroy it is categorized as theft (Baba Kamma 98a).

Rav Wosner in Sh"UT Shevet HaLevi 9:116 while acknowledging the above approach, offers that the Gentile doesn't really care if you burn one piece since his whole intention is to assist the Jew in his holiday observance. Therefore, picking up the Chametz to burn it would not be theft and one may do so. So, someone who doesn't try to sell pure Chametz Gomur, but did sell "any Chametz" in the sale contract, may still perform the stringency of not relying on the sale, and burning the small amount that he found.

If it is not being burned, then it should be put into the Gentile's closet/zone so a Jew does not come to accidentally eat it. (see S.A. O.C. 440:2)

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  • "the stringency of not relying on the sale" That's quite a חומרא המביא לידי קולא if it means you ended up owning chametz for the first few days of pesach. Plus most of the reasons not to rely on the sale don't exist in this case: it's not a haarama if you are writing the sale contract for things you cannot otherwise destroy in advnace (because you forgot about them) since there's actually no other choice for dealing with them; and It's also not a problem of lack of commitment to actually sell since you would have thrown it out anyway and would be thrilled to get some money for it instead.
    – Double AA
    Mar 30 at 16:16
  • @DoubleAA I think his view is that it may be better to be alarmed at finding the chametz and running to destroy it. If you are not alarmed and calmly think its the gentile's, then it can be put back into the gentile's cabinet "soon". So, someone may mistakenly eat it. This is allowed because the gentile doesn't care if you burn a piece of his chametz, because he wanted to help the Jew fulfill the holiday stringencies after all. The sale is perfectly fine and you could rely on it. But you gain the ability to quickly burn it by not "relying on the sale" to just put it into the gentile's closet. Apr 5 at 5:27
  • Do we ever find such a chashash in halacha? Worry that you won't put it away fast enough and accidentally eat it? Chazal enacted to put up a mechitza in front of a gentile's chametz. Following their gzeira should be sufficient. All this psak does is make people further think the sale is a joke.
    – Double AA
    Apr 5 at 12:11
  • @DoubleAA Personally, I do understand where you are coming from. I respect your opinion. I don't believe it is a "psak" that one must burn it according to Rav Wosner. I think he is just allowing for an ultra Charedi view. The first opinion (Mikraei Kodesh) seems to want to bolster the validity of the sale. Apr 6 at 3:53
  • I'm just nitpicking on your wording that not relying on the sale in this case is a stringency. It's a leniency (when do we ever let you destroy property based on a guess?) and this "ultra-Chareidi" view is based more in an emotional feeling of disdain for the sale than in logic.
    – Double AA
    Apr 6 at 13:32

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