I shall now paraphrase Professor Alan Nadler in class today. The following is a tangent regarding the halachic loophole of “selling” your chametz to a goy and then buying it back at the end of Pesach.
This was a big thing in Poland back then because Jews were not only the vast majority of the producers of alcohol, but they were also tavern-owners so they distributed all the booze too. So they would sell their entire factory to some goy and buy it back at the end of Pesach.
I know this still happens because I actually helped the Bronfmans out with this for a few years. Seagram’s, which is based in Montreal, where I was Rabbi, is owned by the Bronfmans and the Bronfmans were members of my synagogue.
Every year, a day or so before Pesach, Mr. Bronfman himself would come to my office, I’d write out a little legal document, hold out a handkerchief. Bronfman would accept the handkerchied and that was that. Then I’d take this document that he’d signed and give it to my building’s superintendent.
He was some Quebecois goy and he couldn’t read the damn thing. Nice guy. He’d just hold onto it till Pesach was over and then I’d take it back. Little did he know that owned Segram’s for a few days every Spring.