New York – Anonymous Man Becomes The Owner Of Thousands Of Closets In Brooklyn Full Of Bread

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    New York – Forget the Lottery. The biggest windfall in the country this Passover season might well be coming to an otherwise anonymous man named Glade who works at a Jewish funeral monument company in St. Louis.

    Last Passover, Glade became the proud owner of tens of thousands of closets and cabinets full of bread, fancy pasta and alcohol from Jews around North America. He was the gentile who took official ownership of the leavened bread products that those Jews sold for the holiday via Chabad.org, the Web site run by the Brooklyn-based Lubavitcher branch of Hasidic Judiasm.

    Jews can put all the chametz they own in a closet, cabinet or room, and assign a rabbi power of attorney over the space and its contents. The rabbi then sells the chametz to a gentile, and leases the gentile the space in which it is stored. At the end of the eight-day holiday, the rabbi buys it all back for the original owners.

    Traditionally, a local rabbi would make the sale, but since Chabad started an online version of the service out of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, about a decade ago, an ever growing number of Jews– 56,843 last year– have pointed and clicked to give power of attorney over their chametz to Rabbi Yosef Landa, a Chabad rabbi in St. Louis.

    “Suddenly this has become the hub for the world’s chametz sales,” Rabbi Landa said on Tuesday. “It’s an interesting thing for everybody. It’s unifying.”

    Rabbi Landa’s main job is to find a gentile willing to take ownership over the virtual world’s chametz, and sell it by the morning of the first Passover Seder meal. Often, he says, he has turned to Glade.

    He does not know much about Glade personally. He first said that Glade was a handyman at a synagogue, then after speaking with him, said he worked at a Jewish monument company. He told City Room that Glade was not interested in being interviewed about his role as perhaps the largest owner of Jewish chametz in the world.

    But Glade’s personal status — beyond the fact that he is not a Jew and is willing to participate — is not that critical, Rabbi Landa said. The transaction itself is simple. Glade signs a document, makes a down payment of, say $50, and the chametz is legally transferred to him. After the holiday, Rabbi Landa buys the chametz back for $100. “He is very happy to have me buy it back from him, especially for the profit,” Rabbi Landa said.

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    21 COMMENTS

    1. Now, I don’t want to appear as either a Nitpick, Spoilsport or Killjoy. But I’m wondering if online transactions involving Chametz on Passover are valid. Especially. In view of the fact that the rabbi (In St. Louis) doesn’t know very much about the background of “Glade”. He might possibly have Jewish ancestry (Where he is Halachically considered to be Jewish) and selling the chametz to him did not accomplish anything.

    2. Please note, there is NO kinyan necessary. The Rov is NOT buying the Chametz from you, he is only an agent (shaliach) to sell it for you. To designate someone a shaliach NO KINYAN is necessary. However, to STRENGTHEN the appointment of the shaliach the Rov makes a “kinyan” (though it really isn’t one).

    3. To Number 8:
      The halacha is that you can bideved sell over the phone. I had an incident where I went out of town and forgot to sell the chometz. My Rov took my info over the phone. I believe Rav Moshe paskens like this too. Many poskim hold like this too. So I speak from fact and actual cases.It is always preferable to do it in person however, but the halacha allows it.

      • “1 not all the halachik details have to be printed in the new york times …”

        Why not? What “secrets” should we protect?

        Are we proud Jews, or secretive and paranoid Freemasons!

    4. I don’t know. I have been selling chometz via the Rav for years. I do it because that is how we do it. But I am not convinced this is a valid sale because EVERYONE knows that after Pesach, all the chometz returns to me. No matter how many times I have heard it explained why this is a real sale, I just can’t buy it. It is a legal fiction.

    5. This is great for those without a rabbi or a community, but for those who use this and take parnassah away from their own rov, it is a big problem. Rabbi Landa should write on his website that if you have your own rabbi, you should go to him.

    6. To No. 16
      There is no chiyuv to sell your chometz with your Rov and give him parnosoh. It might be a nice thing but I can sell it with whomever I desire. Just like I can shop in any store, I can sell my chometz with whom ever. The Rov gets a salaray and this is extra for which there is no chiyuv.

    7. I love the fact that they call it “closets of bread…” makes it sound like we stockpile it, along with ‘fancy’ pasta (whatever that is) & alcohol!

    8. I used Rav Landa online this morning and it took about ten seconds and I did not have to go throght the useless ritual of detailing my alcohol, cereal and pasta.

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