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How to Sell Your Hametz For Passover

There are several ways to sell leavened products that you cannot dispose of before Passover.

One of the central observances of Passover is ridding one’s home of any hametz, defined as the fermented product of one of five grains: wheat, barley, oats, spelt and rye. But in practice, this can be difficult. For one thing, some hametz products, like alcohol, are expensive and kept for a long time. Getting rid of them entirely could entail a significant financial loss. For another, many Jews consider any product not specifically certified for use on Passover to be hametz by default, and getting rid of all such products would mean emptying almost all of one’s pantry. 

For these and other reasons, it is common practice to sell one’s hametz to a non-Jewish person for the duration of the Passover holiday. This transaction is typically completed early in the day prior to the holiday. Once the holiday is complete, the hametz is repurchased and is available for use. There are several ways to do this. 

Delegate It to a Rabbi

By far the most common approach to selling hametz is to delegate a rabbi to do it on your behalf. Most synagogue rabbis perform this service on behalf of their communities. Because there are some particularities about how Jewish law requires the sale to be done, most people find this not only the easiest method, but the most reliable. This typically entails nothing more than filling out a form assigning the power to sell one’s hametz to the rabbi, and normally details what type of hametz is involved and where it’s stored. 

Sell it Online

A number of synagogues and Jewish organizations offer the service of selling hametz, either for free or in exchange for a small fee or donation. In practice, this functions much like selling hametz through a rabbi: A form is filled out online delegating a particular rabbi as your agent, the location and type of hametz are spelled out, and the form and payment submitted. The Chabad hasidic movement and the chief rabbinate of Israel both provide this service over the internet, as do a number of independent synagogues. 

Sell it yourself

It isn’t particularly difficult, and many people actually find it more meaningful, to sell their hametz privately to a friend or neighbor. There are some specific Jewish legal requirements for a sale, so if these are important to you, it may be preferable to use one of the options above. But as long as the sale is real — meaning, money really changes hands and both parties understand the sale is not a legal fiction, but a genuine (if temporary) transfer of ownership — there’s no reason a private sale cannot also be legally valid. More guidance on how to do this is available here.

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