By COLlive staff
A year has passed since the first time Manhattan Beer Distributors sold their chametz for Pesach as required by Halacha, causing a stir throughout the Jewish world.
Manhattan Beer was founded in 1979, in Bronx, New York, by Mr. Simon Bergson, still its current President and CEO. It is the largest single market beer distributor in the country, providing beer to hundreds of kosher stores and restaurants in the metropolitan area.
For years, Rabbanim and many organizations tried continuously to convince Mr. Bergson to sell his chametz, only to be met by a firm refusal.
This caused a kashrus disaster every year after Pesach, as chametz that a Jew owned over Pesach cannot be eaten by a Jew after Pesach.
When Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld, rabbinic coordinator of restaurants, catering, and hotels for the worldwide kashrus organization OK Kosher, heard of this matter at the Shabbos Hagodol speech given by Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, CEO of OK Kosher, he took a different approach.
Based off of a response he received in the Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh, that the way to truly connect Yidden to Hashem is with Ahavas Yisroel and Mishloach Manos – gifts begashmius ubruchnius, he whipped up a batch of the Kokosh cake his mother, Rebbetzin Weinfeld obm, was famous for, and brought it with him for Mr. Bergson and his wife to taste.
With Hashem’s help, and with the guidance of rabbi Nosson Sternberg, a grandson of the Kapishnitzer Rebbe Zat”L that helped Rabbi Weinfeld from day one, he successfully convinced Mr. Bergson to sell his Chametz for the benefit of the Jews of New York State. The sale included all of the company’s locations and the business itself.
Mr. Bergson also had the opportunity to put on tefillin for the second time in his life, 57 years after his Bar Mitzvah. Mr. Bergson was deeply touched.
The story of the Manhattan Beer Chametz sale was published and discussed throughout the Jewish world, with many Pilpulim and Haarois written regarding the case.
This year, Rabbi Weinfeld prepared for weeks before the sale that happened on Tuesday, 19 Adar Beis, consulting with many well-versed Rabbanim, specifically Rabbi Weissmandl, regarding the best way to word the Mechiras Chametz contract so as to comply with all halachic opinions.
The night before the sale, Rabbi Weinfeld visited to the Rebbe’s Ohel to Daven for success and utilized the opportunity to say some Tehillim at the gravesites of Mr. Bergson’s parents as well.
The signing was attended by Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, CEO of OK Kosher, Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld, Rabbi Nosson Sternberg, a businessman from Crown Heights, Rabbi Yakov Teichman from Lakewood, a Rabbi in the OK kosher organization, and Mr. Edward McBrien, the non-Jew who bought the Chometz, and Mr. Simon Bergson.
Once again, Mr. Bergson put on tefillin with much emotion. He spoke about his joy in the fact that he is becoming closer to Judaism.
In addition, he notified the Rabbanim that he will be going on vacation throughout Pesach to prevent any halachic complications. The Rabbanim supported and admired his decision.
VIDEO: Manhattan Beer’s Simon Bergson tells his story
After the sale, Rabbis Weinfeld and Sternberg visited the office of the great Posek Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, the son of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zatzal.
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein supported the sale last year and guided Rabbi Weinfeld with this year’s sale as well. He expressed his pleasure at the sale of the chametz and added his signature with the words:
“יש לסמוך על המכירה לכל הדעות שנעשית על פי מומחים בסידור מכירת חמץ”