Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Pesach 2024 – Special Edition: The Chometz Fraud

Raboyseyee and Ladies,


The Chometz Fraud:

Let us talk inyoney diyomo (something topical).

What’s pressing today? What’s pressing is that time is running out for the sale of chometz to the unsuspecting goy who thinks he’s taking ownership and possible possession of your chometz. The deadline is sometime tomorrow morning -depending of course where you live but at some point in the morning for all- your chometz must be sold lest you violate the serious prohibition of owning chometz over Pesach. The consequences are dire.

The good news:  myriad email blasts have been hitting your Inbox daily from your shuls and other enterprising organizations reminding us that our rabbis -your local rabbi-  will be available to represent you in one of the most fascinating transactions you will ever enter into. In this business arrangement, you will be the seller, some unsuspecting goy will be the buyer, and your local rabbi will be your agent.

Shoin! Unfortunately, no matter how large your chometz estate may be and no matter how many bottles of expensive scotch or wine you have collected over the years, you won’t be seeing much in the form of net proceeds; in fact, you won’t see any at all. The rabbi will avada make out like a bandit.  It’s not all bad because come 45 minutes after Pesach is over, in Houdini style fashion, the entire sale will be reversed. The sham contract -according to at least some, you entered into will be nullified, the chometz you sold but did not deliver, will be yours again and life will be back to normal. All back to normal except that the money you paid your rabbi to be your agent, is not refundable or reversible. Nu, rabbis too, need to supplement their parnosa (livelihood).  Do you think it’s easy for a rabbi to make ends meet on few hundred thousand dollars of salary and other perks?

And by this time next week, a handful of lucky and handpicked goyim who are either friendly with the rabbi or live near the shul or are perhaps the shul’s custodians – some without a green card and working papers -will take control of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of chometz and even real estate. For eight plus day these lucky few will be the proud owners of your liquor collection, your freezer, and maybe even of your entire apartment, house, co-op and even cars. The unsuspecting goyim will be taking on financial obligations they cannot possibly meet by the contract deadline (30-45 minutes after Pesach is over) and taka, come deadline time, they will taka be relinquishing control of the acquired assets and shoin, everything will revert back to normal.

The great chometz sale for 2024 which began in earnest about two weeks ago is coming to an end.  Yiddin en masse, eager not to violate the prohibition of owning or seeing any chometz and in anticipation of Pesach at home or on the road, have been flocking to their favorite rabbi who gets to act as their chometz sale agent.

And the question on the Ois’s mind this year? What happens when one -the seller- belongs to several different shuls and has relationships with several different rabbis? Let’s get real: Many Yiddin belong to more than one shul! Many need a back-up shul for when they get pissed off at their first shul. Which of one’s rabbis should be appointed as the chometz agent? And what happens when one decides to sell one’s chometz to all his rabbis? Has one committed chometz fraud?

How can he possibly make good on his chometz sale to more than one person? Let’s get real: we don’t hand deliver, nor allow our chometz out of our possession when we sell to even one goy; two or more? Four?  What pshat?

While researching this topic, the heylige Ois came across this sheylo (question) which he quotes verbatim from a most reliable source (the heylige Internet):

“What crime does one commit when secretly selling the same physical item (a unique car) to several different people? It seems to me that this must be against the law somehow, but I don’t know exactly how it’s handled.” And the example cited? I own a valuable physical object.

  1. I make a contract to sell this object to each of several different people, in exchange for money. To avoid detection, the deal is that they send me the money now, and then they pick up the item from an agreed-upon location on a specific date in the future.
  2. On the specified date, all of the buyers arrive at the specified location and discover that the object is present and nobody’s stopping them from taking it … except each other.
  3. I have pocketed the money and left town.

What is the name of the crime and/or tort I have committed? Who gets to keep the object? How have the courts handled this type of scam in the past? Is it handled differently if the “valuable physical object” is real estate? (It seems to me that this scam might be easier to execute with land, since nobody expects land to be delivered to them.)

Among the answers proffered is this one:  How is it not obvious that at the moment you sold it to the first person, you ceased to own it and thus could not sell it to even a second person, let alone more?

The bottom line: one is guilty of the crime of fraud.   You have breached your contract of sale.  And the question: May one than sell one’s chometz to more than one rabbi even when well intentioned?

The good news: relax and exhale because unlike the example given where one collects monies from the sale of one item to more than one person and collects monies from each sale, in the case of the chometz transaction, one who sells his chometz to four different rabbi/agents has not committed a crime. One has not pocketed monies; instead, one has gone out of pocket to each buyer. Not to worry: the rabbis have your back! The sale of chometz is unique in that way: one pays to make the sale! And instead of fraud, it’s farkert (the opposite may be true). One has seemingly gained a mitzvah by supporting one’s rabbi charity fund or in some cases, the rabbi himself who avada needs some extra spending money.

Wishing all my readers a givaldige zissin Pesach wherever you find yourselves this special Yom Tov when we celebrate our freedom from slavery. Slavery comes in many forms and whichever plagues you; may you see freedom soon.

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman




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