Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Vayera
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS VAYERA
TEVILAS KEILIM - IMMERSING NEW UTENSILS
Utensils which are bought from a non-Jew, even if they are brand new,
require immersion in a kosher mikveh. Just as a convert requires immersion,
symbolizing his conversion from non-Jew to Jew, so too, utensils require
immersion when being transferred from non-Jewish to Jewish ownership(1).
Most of the Rishonim hold that this is a Biblical command(2). What follows
is a basic review of which types of utensils require immersion.
Utensils fall into three categories as regards the obligation of immersion:
a) utensils that definitely require immersion and the blessing of Al tevilas
keilim(3); b) utensils which - For one reason or another-may require
immersion and the blessing is not recited; c) utensils which do not require
immersion at all.
The halachos concerning which type of utensils require immersion are based
on two criteria:
1) The material from which the utensil is made;
2) the purpose for which the utensil is made and how it is used.
Let us review each of these criteria individually:
1. THE MATERIAL FROM WHICH THE UTENSIL IS MADE?
There is one basic rule to follow: The Torah itself mentions only six types
of metal utensils(4) as requiring immersion. The Talmud, however, says that
all utensils made out of material which "when broken can be melted down and
reformulated(5)" are considered like metal utensils and require immersion.
The Talmud specifically mentions glass as being the type of dish that can be
"reformulated" after breaking(6).
UTENSILS WHICH DEFINITELY REQUIRE IMMERSION - WITH A BLESSING:
Utensils made from any type of metal, including brass, steel, and aluminum.
Disposable aluminum pans which are used and thrown away do not require
immersion. If they are going to be used more than once, most poskim require
them to be immersed [even before using them the first time](7), while others
allow them to be used two or three times and then discarded(8).
Utensils made from any type of glass(9). Pyrex, duralex and corelle are all
considered forms of glass(10).
UTENSILS WHICH DO NOT REQUIRE IMMERSION AT ALL:
Plastic, melmac, rubber, nylon(14).
Non-glazed earthenware (flowerpot dull finish)(15).
UTENSILS WHICH MAY REQUIRE IMMERSION BUT WITHOUT A BLESSING:
Earthenware which has been lined or coated with lead(16).
Heavily glazed earthenware(17).
Porcelain or porcelain enamel. Most of today's china dishes are included in
this category. There are some poskim who maintain that these dishes do not
require immersion at all(18) and one may follow this authorative view(19).
Other poskim disagree and hold that china should be immersed but without a
blessing(20). In many places, this has become customary(21).
Corningware(22) - follows the same rule as porcelain.
2. THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE UTENSIL IS MADE
The basic rule to follow is this: The Talmud states that only klei seudah,
utensils used for a meal, must be immersed. This includes all utensils which
have direct contact with food - either during preparation(23) or at
mealtime. Since the status of some items as klei seudah may be undetermined
or in dispute, we will list different kinds of utensils - some that
definitely require immersion, others which clearly do not, and those whose
status is questionable and thus require immersion without a blessing.
Bottle or can openers do not need immersion(24).
A stove or oven rack [or a blech] on which pots are normally placed do not
need immersion. If it is common for food to be placed on it directly, like a
grill or a toaster-oven rack, then the rack requires immersion with a
Vegetable bins and refrigerator racks, even if the food touches them
directly, do not need immersion(26).
A serving tray used to bring plates to the table is exempt from immersion.
If food is placed directly on the tray, it requires immersion with a
A nutcracker requires immersion. Some poskim require a blessing as well(28),
while others rule that a blessing should not be made(29).
A fruit and vegetable peeler requires immersion(30). If the peeler is used
exclusively for raw, non-edible food, like a potato peeler which is used for
nothing else, many poskim hold that no immersion is required(31).
An arts and crafts knife does not need immersion, even if the knife is
occasionally utilized for food preparation(32).
Jars, bottles, or metal containers which are used to store food but are
never brought to the table, require immersion without a blessing. If they
are brought to the table, then they require immersion with a blessing(33).
Any utensil which is normally used for wrapped food only, does not require
immersion. If it is a type of utensil which is normally used for unwrapped
foods, then it must be immersed even if it temporarily being used for food
which is wrapped(34).
Some poskim do not require immersion for a toaster(35). Many others require
immersion with a blessing(36).
Important Note: Many people mistakenly believe that utensils may be used one
time before being immersed. This is wrong, and it has absolutely no basis in
1 Ritva ibid. quoting the Ramban, based on Yerushalmi.
2 See Tevilas Keilim, pg. 34, for a complete list.
3 Our custom is to recite this text whether immersing one utensil or many;
Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 120:22; Taharas Yisrael 9; Kochavei Yitzchak 1:10-6;
mi-Beis Levi (Nissan 5753, pg. 49).
4 Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, and lead.
5 Based on the interpretation of Rashi.
6 For a more detailed explanation, see Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 120:25 and
Emes l'Ya'akov al ha-Torah and to Shabbos 15b.
7 Chelkas Yaakov 3:115; Minchas Yitzchak 5:32; mi-beis Levi (Nissan 5753,
8 Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:23.
9 Y.D. 120:1. The poskim agree that glass utensils are only Rabbinically
obligated. A blessing is nevertheless recited, as in all Rabbinical mitzvos;
see Chochmas Adam 73:1.
10 Harav M. Heinemann (Kashrus Kurrents vol. XV #3). There is also some
metal mixed in them; Tzitz Eliezer 8:26.
11 Y.D. 120:6.
12 Rambam, Hilchos Ma'achalas Asuros 17:6.
13 Several poskim quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 232. A minority opinion
requires them to be immersed; see Darkei Teshuvah 14.
14 This is the view of most poskim, see Chelkas Yaakov 2:163; Kisvei Harav
Henkin 2:60; Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in l'Torah v'Hora'ah, vol. 1, pg.
11; vol. 2, pg. 20 and pg. 42); Tzitz Eliezer 7:37; Be'er Moshe 2:52; Yabia
Omer 4:8. A minority opinion holds that plastic dishes should be immersed
without a blessing; see Minchas Yitzchak 3:76-78; Shearim Metzuyanim
b'Halachah 37:4 This is the custom in German congregations. See (Kol
ha-Torah, vol. 42, pg. 14) where Harav Y.Y. Weiss rules that a yeshivah may
be lenient with this stringency.
15 Chochmas Adam 73:1.
16 Rama Y.D. 120:1. See Darkei Teshuvah 28 who rules that even if they are
lined with lead on both the outside and inside, no blessing is said.
17 See Darkei Teshuvah 19 who quotes several views on this issue.
18 Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 120:2; Shalmas Chayim 1:13; Harav M. Feinstein
(quoted in l'Torah v'Hora'ah, vol. 2, pg. 20).
19 Yabia Omer 4:8.
20 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 37:3 and Misgeres ha-Shulchan.
21 Melamed leho'il Y.D. 47; Aruch ha-Shulchan 120:29; Darkei Teshuvah 12.
22 Harav M. Heinemann (Kashrus Kurrents vol. XV #3).
23 Some poskim hold that only utensils which are used in the final stage of
food preparation require immersion, e.g., a pot, but not utensils which are
used in the preliminary stages, e.g., a cookie cutter.
24 Shach Y.D. 120:11. Even if the can opener touches the food it does not
require immersion; Harav S. Wosner (quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 233).
25 Y.D. 120:4 and Pri Chadash 12.
26 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 196). See also Be'er
27 Tevilas Keilim, pg. 213.
28 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 220).
29 Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in Ohalei Yeshurun, pg. 46). Shevet ha-Levi
6:245-4 questions if a nutcracker requires immersion altogether.
30 Tevilas Keilim, pg. 221.
31 Avnei Yashfei 1:146 based on Aruch ha-Shulchan 35-36. The same halachah
applies to a pocketknife, etc.
32 Darkei Teshuvah 45, quoting Pri Chadash; Aruch ha-Shulchan 40-45. See
Tevilas Keilim, pg. 52.
33 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 197); Harav M.
Feinstein (quoted in Ohalei Yeshurun, pg. 45).
34 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 55).
35 Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:24.
36 See Tevilas Keilim, pg. 208.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.
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