Categorized | Cohen_Joel_H., Lighter Side

‘Just Kidding’: He won’t return my chametz

By Joel H. Cohen

Joel H. Cohen

NEW YORK — A complicated legal matter dating back to Pesach a year ago, and stemming from a non-Jewish man’s refusal to return a Jewish man’s chametz he bought through a rabbi, is making its way through various appeal courts.  it could reach the U.S. Supreme Court, legal experts say.

Known in legal circles simply as  Moe v Donald, the case involves suits and counter-suits that invoke contract law, the U.S. Constitution’s first amendment on religious freedom and historical Jewish precedents. The Anti-Defamation League has  filed a suit as a “friend of the court,” alleging anti-Semitism, and several “name” attorneys have offered their services to the various parties free of charge.
The controversy  began in 2016 when, just before Pesach, the plaintiff in the matter, a Jewish resident of Brooklyn, NY, known simply as Moe, asked his spiritual leader — identified only as Rabbi X — to sell the non-kosher-for-Passover items still in his possession to a non-Jew, for one dollar, in accordance with custom.
His understanding was that, at the end of the holiday, the items would be sold back to him for a dollar. But on the last  of the intermediate days of the holiday, a young man, who identified himself as Jared, a relative of Donald’s, came to Moe’s door and said his crew would be back the day after the holiday to gather up the items Donald had bought. Jared ;pointed to the pickup truck, which had golden hub caps and a capital letter T on its cab.
Moe and his wife were thunderstruck, and immediately sought legal redress. Observers of  rules regarding Passover food, they wanted out of their possession any food made of grain and water that had been allowed to ferment and rise — especially but not limited to bread, cereal, cake, cookies,  pasta, and beer. Moe also  prided himself on bottles of expensive Scotch, included in the chametz sale.
In  depositions, Moe said he was invoking generations of Jewish tradition to support his contention that the items sold should revert to him after the holiday. Members of a beth din(rabbinical court), convened for their input on the matter, were split as to whose stance was legally more sustainable. Secular courts also could not reach a clear-cut decision.
In a series of tweets, Donald explained his position:  “Made my unbelievable fortune with great deals; This one’s incredible. Not passing it up.”
In another, he wrote,”Don’t drink booze, but Moe’s scotch should get excellent resale price.”
And in a third,”Can’t beat that one-dollar purchase tab. Watch this incredible deal-maker do his incredible thing.”
Often, the rabbi told reporters, the chametz sales contract includes a clause specifying that the one-dollar fee is only a down-payment and, say, an additional $2,999  would be due at the end of Passover. if the purchaser wanted to keep the chametz. But, Rabbi X acknowledged, he had neglected to include such a clause. Nevertheless, he added, he’s done “countless chametz exchanges before,without a single incident like this.”
Moe wasn’t satisfied and has filed suit, contending that Rabbi X is “unfit to handle chametz transactions, and may well be unfit for other rabbinical duties, as well.” Rabbi X immediately sued Moe for defamation of character, and considered a similar suit against Donald for labeling him a “so-called rabbi.”
When Neil Gorsuch, just last week sworn in as justice of the U.S.Supreme Court, heard about the matter, he reportedly told a friend: “If I’d known we were going to get this complex a case to rule on, I might have re-thought accepting the position.”

Stay tuned.


San Diego Jewish World reminds readers who are new to this column that it is all in fun, and nothing above should be taken seriously.  Cohen is a freelance writer based in New York.


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One Response to “‘Just Kidding’: He won’t return my chametz”


  1. […] For background on this fanciful case, please see […]

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