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My understanding of the prohibition of Bal Yer'aeh (Do not see / find the chametz) is that it is a "protection" against eating the chametz. Thus, the chametz is usually stored in a sealed closet.

What if someone knows exactly which items are chametz in his closet, but needs to retrieve something from the closet during Pesach. Would he be allowed to open the closet to retrieve any of these:

  • Pesach food item (such as a canned item) needed for the current Pesach meal
  • Non-food item not meal related (a book)
  • Non-food item needed for current Pesach meal (e.g. paper plates)

Would the prohibition / permissibility matter if it was "mitzvah" item? E.g. the Haggadot are in the closet, and you don't have siddurim or anything else containing the Hagaddah text, around, and you don't know the entire Haggadah text by heart.

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    It is also "bal yiraei" the chametz must not be seen even though the nonJew owns it. Also the closet has been rented to the nonJew, Thus you are going into his property without permission. – sabbahillel Mar 23 '18 at 19:19
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    The location is rented. Since was rented to the goy, then you could probably ask him to get it for you. However, I do not think you can go into that area even with his permission because of ba yiraei. That question though is a CYLOR. – sabbahillel Mar 23 '18 at 19:28
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    What is "the chametz"? You can't own any chametz on pesach! – Double AA Mar 23 '18 at 19:41
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    Hold on folks, there is no baal yiraah on a goy's chametz in the goy's closet area. – David Kenner Mar 23 '18 at 20:04
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    @danf you're right, but it does clear up some misconceptions behind what the law is which are latent in this post. – Double AA Mar 25 '18 at 1:23
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The Torah (Shmos 12:7, Devarim 16:4) uses the language of "your chametz shall not be seen". "Hebrew; Lecha".

The Gemara in Pesachim (5b) teaches that this means you may not see your own chametz on Pesach but you may see the chametz owned by others (example: a Gentile).

However, if you do sell the chametz to a Gentile before Pesach, The chametz needs a proper transfer act (kinyan) from the Jew to the Gentile. Also, the chametz should be removed from the Jew's property and delivered to the Gentile. A reason for this (besides kinyan) is to show that this is not a fake sale (since the goods were delivered to the Gentile's domain) and also because if the chametz is destroyed by accident, the Jew may be construed as being responsible for the lost chametz. The Gemara in Pesachim (5b; Rava's ruling to the people of Machuza) explains that we should remove even Gentile owned chametz from our homes if we are financially responsible for that chametz. (sources, see: Shulchan Aruch O.C. 448; Terumas HaDeshen 120; Magen Avraham 448:4)

In order to help relieve all of these issues (and since more and more Jews found themselves owning more chametz before Pesach) the Bach (Bach to S.A. O.C. 448:2) issued a ruling that the Jew could designate a space in his home (instead of the hard task of delivery) that he sells as real estate to the Gentile along with the chametz. Now the chametz has been "removed from the Jew's domain" , and "delivered to the Gentile".

However, the contract doing so need not grant the Gentile such exclusive right to the designated space as to automatically and completely bar the Jew's access to that space. It is enough that the Gentile own it or rent it from the Jew. The Gentile need not be consulted each time you wish to access the area designated for the Gentiles storage of delivered and sold chametz within your home. However, one should try not to access that space.

Finally, according to Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 440:2), you still should have the Gentile's area separated by a partition or covered over since we do not want Jewish household members to forget or be confused and access the chametz without thinking.

Therefore, since all of the above are precautionary measures, and not an absolute obligation to deny your access to the area, you can if need demands, access the area to retrieve an item you did not sell on Pesach.

I hope this helps. :)

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Rabbi Yirmiyahu Kaganoff was asked this question and discusses his answer at May I Enter the Room that I Sold to the Non-Jew and concludes that one is allowed to enter the room that was rented to the nonJew. His teshuva was translated from the original Hebrew.

The main problem was that the Terumas Hadeshen insisted that the chametz had to be completely removed from the property of the Jew. However, Rabbi Kaganoff concludes:

Most later authorities explain that one is permitted to leave the non-Jew’s chometz in one’s house, provided that he has taken adequate care that no one mistakenly eat it. The reason that the Terumas Hadeshen insisted on removing the chometz from the Jew’s property was because of the technical laws that must be followed in order to change ownership of the chometz to the non-Jew. However, should one accomplish changing ownership to the gentile without moving it out of your house, you are not required to do so.

One of the standard methods we use of guaranteeing that the sale of our chometz to the gentile is fully valid is to rent to the gentile for the entire holiday the area where the chometz is stored. However, even when one rented to the gentile the area where the chometz is stored, this rental should not preclude the Jew from entering this area for a short period of time. It therefore appears that, should the need develop, it is permitted to enter the room that was rented to the non-Jew.

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