By Rabbi Menachem Wolf.
The Torah describes that on the festival of Pesach, not only should we not eat chametz (leaven/fermented grain product), we shouldn’t have any chametz in our possession. Besides bread, cakes and biscuits, many liquors, processed foods, drinks and sauces contain ingredients that are in fact chametz.
The Talmud explores the issues of owning chametz over Pesach and concludes that even if it wasn’t actually eaten or benefited from over the festival, it still remains forbidden for use after Pesach. For practical purposes, the sages created a loophole to assist in the practicalities of observing this tradition without having to throw out one’s pantry or dishes (which too are considered chametz due to their absorption of flavour), their solution: Sell your chametz.
In towns around the world, individual householders give community leaders and rabbis the authority to sell the chametz on their behalf to a person not of the Jewish faith (and therefore not bound by the traditions restriction), after Pesach, that person sells it back to the rabbis and leaders who then return the ownership of the chametz to the original owners.
This creativity is driven by a pragmatic attitude. We can debate what the intention of the Torah is when it says to not have chametz, and that debate is advisable and pretty much how the Talmud and much of Jewish literature came about. But as the great rationalist, Maimonides demonstrates, the debate should not overshadow the instruction- we are told not to own chametz and by selling it we aren’t.
Since the mid-1990s, Chabad.org has offered an online method of sale through which you can authorize a rabbi to sell your chametz to a non-Jew on your behalf.
Click on this link and it will take you to the Chabad.org sale of chametz form