The earliest mention of selling chametz for the duration of Pesach is in the Tosefta,1 in a scenario of a Jew traveling long-distance by boat. He has food supplies with him, including chametz. If he finishes his provisions before Pesach he won’t be able to replenish them after Pesach. So, he approaches a non-Jewish fellow traveler and sells the chametz to him, expressing his intent that he would be happy to buy back the remainder after Pesach.

But what’s stopping the non-Jew from finishing off the chametz food during Pesach? Well, in some sources, they advise selling the chametz to the gentile at twice its market value. So why would the gentile indulge in whisky priced at £40 a bottle, when he can easily purchase the same product at £20 a bottle.

The above solution could work on a small scale. But with larger amounts of chametz, and certainly with commercial quantities, it is less likely that the gentile will be ready to pay for the chametz in full, and certainly not to pay the overpriced figure.

Selling for a Nominal Amount

One solution is to sell all the chametz at a nominal price. This obviously runs the risk that the gentile may choose not to sell the chametz back to the Jew after Pesach.

An alternative solution: The gentile agrees to pay the market value of the chametz (or even an inflated figure), but actually only pays a down payment, with the declared intent to settle the balance at a later opportunity.

The latter method, although safe financially, raises a halachic concern:

Let’s say someone purchased a piece of furniture for £1,000, gave an initial down payment, and committed himself to pay the remainder in installments. Legally, upon taking delivery, the piece of furniture is totally owned by the buyer. But if the buyer will fail to pay the installments, the vendor will feel entitled to take back the piece of furniture. Indeed, the sale would be invalidated from a halachic perspective. Since the vendor is returning persistently to receive payment, he did not relinquish ownership of the item.2

So, if the gentile who bought the chametz isn’t able to pay for the goods, the vendor retains a claim on the chametz [i.e. potential ownership], even though he has sold it to the gentile. This would present a major problem for Jews selling chametz to non-Jews without taking full payment before Passover.

To address this concern, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyadi (the first Chabad rebbe) instituted to augment the sale by incorporating the services of a guarantor, an areiv kablan. Effectively, the gentile buyer will pay a down-payment, but all remaining payments are not to be collected from the gentile buyer, but from the guarantor.


Recently, I read an article written by an insurance broker, raising concerns about insurance for the sold chametz. Legally, the insurance covers only for goods owned by the person named in the policy. So, chametz sold to a gentile for the duration of Pesach remains uninsured. This, the writer alleges, is not only a commercial concern, but also a worry from a halachic perspective: Should the gentile realize the financial implications of their having purchased the chametz, he may well plead that he had no real intention to buy, and believed that he was merely obliging to facilitate some Jewish religious procedure.

The writer therefore has been pursuing methods to extend the regular year-round insurance so that it should cover for the Pesach period too.

Whilst the abovementioned endeavor is certainly laudable, I would suggest that where an arev kablan has been involved, the halachic concern is allayed, because if the chametz gets ruined, the financial liability does not fall upon the gentile buyer, but on the Jewish guarantor.

While numerous rabbis and rabbinical courts enact their sale of chametz with the inclusion of an areiv kablan, this is by no means the standard procedure. As a possible result, many shy away from selling real chometz, due to lack of total faith in the validity of the sale.

The Procedure

In the days leading up to Erev Pesach, householders meet with their rabbi, to register their chometz to be included in the sale on Erev Pesach. The addresses of where the chometz will be located are recorded, and many will provide a detailed list of which items are to be included in the sale, plus their approximate value. Other rabbis don’t require all the details, because the master Document stipulates that the specific prices will be confirmed once the goods have been weighed and measured, when they will be priced according to local market value.

The rabbi then hands the householder a piece of cloth to lift. This is known as kinyan sudar. Think of acquisition by means of exchange: I own a horse; you own an ox, and we decided to switch. As soon as you acquire my horse, your ox becomes mine – wherever it is situated, and even if I’ve never seen it.

Similarly here: you wish to empower the rabbi to sell your chometz. So, the rabbi hands you his cloth; in exchange, you have entrusted him the power to sell your chametz.

When to Sell

Before Pesach, the rabbi makes an appointment with the gentile who has agreed to buy the chametz. The sale should be effected after the latest time for eating chametz, but before the time when we may no longer benefit from chametz.

For those traveling eastwards, the above time may be too late. The time difference between Israel and the UK, for example, is two hours. If the chametz is sold in the UK at 11 a.m., it is then 1 p.m. in Israel, by when the owner is forbidden to own chametz.

Because this is a common problem, some rabbis make an earlier sale of chometz – as in the previous day – to cover for those traveling eastwards.

Those selling their chametz online via must similarly select the location where they will be on the morning before Passover to ensure that their chametz is sold by the appropriate time.