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Chametz: When to Peddle and When to Purge?

by Rabbi Gavriel Price

Copyright © 2020 Orthodox Union All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission

The information below is only applicable for Passover 2020

 

A common method for relinquishing ownership of chametz is to sell it, typically through an agent (a rabbi),
to a gentile. The chametz remains in the house, in a closed-off area (e.g., a closet) that has been rented to its new owner. After Pesach the rental period ends and the agent purchases the chametz back on behalf of the original owner.

This option is time-honored and halachically sanctioned. It is, however, a device that some have reservations about relying on for chametz that, on a Torah level, a person is required to remove from one’s possession.

The Torah prohibition against owning chametz applies not only to obvious chametz such as bread, pretzels, or cookies, but to any product that contains a chametz ingredient that constitutes a k’zayit within that product. Licorice, for example, which contains a significant amount of flour in its dough, would not be sold according to this position but should, instead, be eaten before Pesach, burned, or otherwise destroyed. Such products are considered chametz gamur — “real” chametz.

If the food is only safek chametz (that is, there is some doubt as to whether it is chametz at all), it may be included in the sale even according to those pious individuals who avoid the sale of “real” chametz.

The foods listed in the chart below are identified either as chametz gamur (“real” chametz) and, according to the stringent position, should not be included in the sale, or “not chametz gamur,” and may be included in the sale.

Many people who avoid selling chametz nonetheless have a family custom to include their whiskey in the sale.

Because of global variations in raw material sourcing, this chart ONLY APPLIES TO PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED IN THE USA.

PRODUCT STATUS
Baker’s Yeast Not Chametz Gamur
Baking Powder Not Chametz Gamur
Baking Soda Not Chametz Gamur
Barley (Pearled) Not Chametz Gamur1
Beer Chametz Gamur
Bourbon Chametz Gamur2
Brewer’s Yeast Chametz Gamur
Cereals in which wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt
are primary ingredients
Chametz Gamur
Cereals in which wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt
are secondary
ingredients
Chametz Gamur3
Chocolate Not Chametz Gamur
(provided there is no wafer or flour as an ingredient)
Corn Flakes Not Chametz Gamur4
Cosmetics Not Chametz Gamur
Duck Sauce Not Chametz Gamur
Farfel Chametz Gamur
Flour Not Chametz Gamur5
Flour (as an ingredient
in processed food)
Chametz Gamur6
Gefilte Fish Chametz Gamur3
Ice Cream Not Chametz Gamur (with the exception of Cookies and Cream Ice Cream)
Ices Not Chametz Gamur
Ketchup Not Chametz Gamur
Licorice Chametz Gamur3
Maltodextrin Not Chametz Gamur
Maltodextrin (non GMO) Chametz Gamur7
Matzah (not for Pesach) Chametz Gamur
Mayonnaise Not Chametz Gamur
Medications
(Capsules, Pills, Tablets)
Not Chametz Gamur
Mouthwash Not Chametz Gamur
Mustard Not Chametz Gamur
Pasta Sauce Not Chametz Gamur
Popcorn Not Chametz Gamur
Potato Chips Not Chametz Gamur
Pickles Not Chametz Gamur
Probiotics Not Chametz Gamur
Rice Krispies Not Chametz Gamur4
Rum Not Chametz Gamur
Salad Dressing Not Chametz Gamur
Scotch Chametz Gamur2
Soy Sauce Chametz Gamur8
Starch (also referred to as
food starch)
Not Chametz Gamur
Starch (non-GMO) Chametz Gamur7
Tequila Not Chametz Gamur
Toothpaste Not Chametz Gamur
Vanilla Extract Not Chametz Gamur
Vinegar Not Chametz Gamur
Wheat Germ Not Chametz Gamur9
Whip Toppings Not Chametz Gamur

1 Processing of pearled barley is mechanical and does not require use of water.

2 Follow family custom.

3 Some opinions hold that, even according to the stringent tradition of not selling chametz gamur, provided the chametz is not distinguishable in the product even if it is present at more than a k’zayit, it can be included in the sale (Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, quoted in Nefesh HaRav, page 177).

4 Although malt in corn flakes and crispy rice products is present at more than one-sixtieth of the product, in standard packaging the malt is less than one k’zayit of the package.

5 Contemporary milling production renders flour only safek chametz and therefore it can be included in the sale.

6 Flour as an ingredient in processed food is typically exposed to
some form of moisture and should be assumed to be chametz.

7 Typically, non-GMO starch and starch derivatives (like maltodextrin) are sourced from Europe, and should be assumed to be chametz.

8 Wheat is used in traditional soy sauce production.

9 Wheat germ is a byproduct of the milling process – see footnote 3.


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