FAQs

What is “chametz sheavar alav haPesach”?

The Torah prohibitions against chametz are unique, in that a Jew is not only prohibited from consuming and deriving benefit from chametz (fermented wheat, spelt, oat, rye and barley) during…

CHAMETZ SHEAVAR ALAV HAPESACH: What if the store is jointly owned by a Jew and non-Jew? What is the status of the chametz in this instance?

There is an opinion that if the non-Jewish partner owns a majority of the business, there is no concern of chametz sheavar alav haPesach (Shu”t Zecher Yitzchak, responsa 8). Nonetheless,…

How do I know which stores are Jewish owned and do not sell their chametz? I may know who owns the small local grocery store around the corner, but how would I know if the owner or manager of a large chain is Jewish? True, I can search the Internet and perhaps discover the owner’s name, but how would I know if he is really Jewish? Even if the owner has a Jewish-sounding name, there is no guarantee that he is Jewish. It is an unfortunate reality today that his mother may have been non-Jewish, which renders him halachically not Jewish.

There are private lists available that circulate around Pesach time with basic information, but it is best to check with your local rabbi. If he is in doubt, he can…

What items are included in this prohibition of “chametz sheavar alav haPesach”?

Bread, cookies, cake, pretzels, blintzes, cereals and other foods that contain any of the five primary grains (oat, wheat, spelt, rye and barley) are included. Interestingly, even flour is problematic…

Does chametz sheavar alav haPesach apply to kitniyot?

Jews of Ashkenazic descent refrain from eating kitniyot (legumes, such as corn, rice, beans, et cetera) during Pesach. However, this is a tradition that evolved in the last millennium, and…

Do products that contain vinegar (such as salad dressing, pickles and ketchup) fall under the prohibition of chametz sheavar alav haPesach?

Surprisingly, the answer is the classical rabbinic response: “It depends.” Vinegar is manufactured from fermented alcohol, and there are various sources of alcohol. In the United States, most vinegar and…

How long must one wait before buying chametz from a Jewish-owned supermarket after Pesach?

When I was a child, it was customary to wait until Shavuot, which is six weeks after the conclusion of Pesach. This date was a “guesstimate” of how long it…

Why can’t rabbis sell the chametz of Jewish-owned supermarkets before Pesach? Most of us, via our rabbis, sell our chametz to a non-Jew (in a process known as “mechirat chametz”) to avoid the prohibition of owning chametz during the holiday. Since we do not legally own the chametz during Pesach, it can be consumed afterwards, when the rabbi purchases the chametz back. Why not do the same on a grand scale for supermarkets as well? We could then safely purchase chametz from the store as soon as yom tov concludes.

Indeed, this is exactly what takes place. In fact, some rabbis arrange to sell not only individual stores but also entire supermarket chains. However, this process is not without controversy,…

Why is mechirat chametz an accepted practice when it appears to be no more than a legal charade?

The arguments cited above against selling supermarkets to non-Jews for Pesach lead us to fundamental questions about the propriety of the general sale of chametz as well. To highlight this…

Why is mechirat chametz for a supermarket that continues to sell chametz during Pesach a valid sale?

Good question. Many posekim fundamentally oppose the sale of Jewish-owned businesses that sell chametz on Pesach. In stark contrast to the mechirat chametz of a halachically observant Jew, the sale…