I see that someone claims that, when it comes to selling one's chametz to a non-Jew before Pesach,

יש מחלוקות ודעות שונות איזה קנינים לעשות, ואם למכור לגוי או דוקא לגויה

— in my own, loose translation,

there are varied opinions… whether to sell to a male or particularly to a female non-Jew.

I cannot find mention of selling specifically to a female on a cursory Google search; nor, as far as I see, does Aruch Hashulchan 448 mention it. (He does, however, say to seal the deal with a "האנ״ט שלא״ק", which I assume means "handshake", which makes me suspect he assumed the buyer would be male.)

Who says to sell particularly to a woman, and why?

  • I think it's talking about selling vessels, not chametz, so maybe it has to do with tevila? – b a Mar 25 '18 at 0:15
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    @ba Why would tevilla be relevant to the gender of the gentile? – Double AA Mar 25 '18 at 0:37
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    Total shot in the dark - I've heard stories of an anti-Semitic priest in Europe who had strong influence and convinced all the non-Jews in the town not to buy chametz, so the Jews would have to destroy it. It's possible that someone at some point tried a different tactic, to challenge the sale in court and retroactively invalidate it. Maybe they thought in their society a woman would be less likely to sue. – Heshy Mar 25 '18 at 0:53
  • @heshy inventive idea. – David Kenner Mar 25 '18 at 1:51

R. Hershel Schachter has discussed this issue a number of times, and explains it thus:

It is based on technicalities of kinyanim. One of the kinyanim that is used for selling chametz is a kinyan chatzer. A potential issue raised with this kinyan is that a kinyan chatzer works as a shliach, and a non-Jew does not have the ability to create a shliach. However, this is only true for a man. For a woman, a chatzer works as a yad. Therefore it is possible that a kinyan chatzer with a non-Jew only works if the non-Jew is a woman.

He says that because of this R. Moshe Sofer would specifically sell the chametz to a woman. You can hear him explain this, among other places, here starting at approximately 27 minutes in.

(This is an oversimplification, so you should listen to the shiur. Even the shiur is an oversimplification, so perhaps a good place to start is the Ketzos 194:3.)

The original source for this Chumra is the Machatzis Hashekel OC 448, s.v. Vetzarich Iyun (see the full discussion for details):

ולכן עלה ברוחי דעדיף למכור לאשה גויה שאין לה בעל, דכהאי גוונא איכא למימר דמודה תשובת אמונת שמואל דחצרה קונה לה, דמבואר בחו"מ סימן רמ"ג [סעיף כג] דקטן אין לו חצר, דלגבי איש חצר מטעם שליחות אתרבי ואין שליחות לקטן, אבל קטנה יש לה חצר דגבי אשה חצר משום יד אתרבי וקטנה יש לה יד. ואם כן אשה גויה יש לה חצר דהא אית לה יד.‏


I finally found one source that deals with this, hope to find more.

At this site, we find the following question to Rav Aviner:

שאלה: האם לאור דברי הגר"מ פיינשטיין שמותר לנסוע ברכבת תחתית על אף שקשה להיזהר מנגיעה, מותר להחזיר יד לאישה כאשר היא מושיטה?‏

In his answer, he quotes Rav Reuven Feinstein in Sefer Masores Moshe, who says that he asked Rav Moshe if one CAN sell Chametz to a woman, and Rav Moshe told him that in fact, that was the Minhag in his hometown, although he does not provide any reason why it would be preferable, just why it would be permitted. (He also found a way to get around the handshake):

תשובה: מה זה קשור? והרי הגרמ"פ עצמו כתב שקשה להתיר החזרת יד. שו"ת אגרות משה אע"ה א נו. ד לב (ופעם הג"ר ראובן פיינשטיין שאל את אביו הגרמ"פ: האם מותר למכור חמץ לנכרית? והשיב: "אין חסרון במכירת חמץ לנכרית, ושבאמת כך נהגו באוזדא [עיר מולדת שלו], דהלא אין 'מעשה ידיה' של נכריה, לבעלה. ולגבי התקיעת כף - או שלא יעשה, או איזה אשה יהודיה תעשה". מסורת משה עמ' תה. א"כ ברור שהגרמ"פ לא התיר לחיצת יד אישה גם כשיש צורך).‏

Note that in Igros Moshe OC 5:20 he discusses the issue of possibly selling Chametz to a non-Jewish woman who is married to a Jew, and suggests that there is no issue of what she owns perhaps going to her husband. See here for a nice overview of the question.

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