Tevillas Keilim: Questions and Answers
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
Question: Do small electric appliances that come into contact with food,
such as a hot-water urn or a small grill, require tevilah?
Discussion: Yes, they require tevilah and a blessing before the immersion.
Rav M. Feinstein1 was of the opinion that the part of the appliance which
houses the electrical element and does not come into contact with food, is
considered a separate “vessel” and does not required immersion. Other
contemporary poskim, however, do not agree with this approach and require
that the entire appliance be immersed at one time2. [In order not to damage
the appliance, it should be thoroughly dried (a blow drier is most effective
for getting rid of any moisture) and not used for seventy-two hours after
immersion. Our experience has been that if these instructions are followed,
the immersion will not damage the appliances mentioned above.3 ]
Although some poskim have suggested that no electrical appliances need to
be immersed because they can operate only if plugged in, rendering them
“attached to the wall” and no longer in the category of “movable utensils4,
” this approach was not accepted by the vast majority of poskim and one
should not rely on this leniency alone5.
Question: May a customer at a Jewish-owned store [which features a mikveh on
the premises] immerse dishes that he has selected before he pays for them?
Discussion: Some poskim rule that he may not do so. This is because until
the dishes are legally his, they are not yet considered keilei seudah, meal
utensils. As long as they remain the property of the store, these dishes are
keilei sechorah, utensils designated for commerce, not meal utensils.
Therefore, neither the store owner nor the customer may immerse the dishes
until the purchase is completed6. B’diavad, if the dishes were already
immersed, the tevilah should be repeated without a blessing7.
Rav M. Feinstein, however, is quoted8 as ruling that once the customer has
agreed to the purchase, the utensil may be immersed even it has not yet been
paid for. Although legally the dishes are not his, still we consider them
keilei seudah based on his intention and decision to buy them.
Question: When giving a gift, may the giver immerse the utensil before
presenting it or must it be immersed by the recipient?
Discussion: Although this issue is not directly discussed in Shulchan Aruch
or its commentators, Rav S.Z. Auerbach9 and Rav Y.S. Elyashiv10 derive
from the halachah stated in yesterday’s Discussion that a gift-giver may not
immerse a utensil that he plans to give as a gift. They explain that a
utensil which is designated as a gift is not considered a keili seudah,
since its primary purpose is to be given as a gift, not to be used as an
eating utensil. It is thus exempt from tevilah at this time. B’diavad, if
the tevilah was made by the gift-giver, the recipient should repeat the
tevilah without a blessing11.
Question: Is it permitted (for a private person or a kosher establishment)
to send food to another person in a utensil which has not been immersed?
Discussion: It is not recommended. As soon as the utensil starts being
filled with food by the giver, it becomes a keili seudah and the requirement
of tevilah applies. When the recipient receives the utensil, it is
questionable whether or not he may partake of the food which it contains
since he will then be eating from a utensil which was not immersed. He
should transfer the food to another utensil before eating it.
Question: Does lining a utensil with aluminum foil or saran wrap, etc., so
that the food does not touch the utensil at all, exempt the utensil from
Discussion: Lining a utensil with aluminum foil or any other lining does not
exempt it from tevilah, even if the lining completely blocks the food from
touching the utensil.12
Question: If, mistakenly, a utensil was immersed on Shabbos or Yom Tov, may
it be used?
Discussion: Yes, it may. The prohibition to immerse utensils on Shabbos and
Yom Tov is not unilateral; there are many Rishonim who permit one to do so.
Although l’chatchilah we rule stringently, b’diavad, utensils which were
immersed on Shabbos or Yom Tov may be used.13
Question: Some people have a custom of immersing utensils three times. Does
this custom have a valid source?
Question: If a utensil is too large to fit into the mikveh, may it be
immersed part by part?
Discussion: Absolutely not. The entire utensil, inside and outside, must be
underwater at the same time.14 This includes:
• the handle which is connected to the utensil.15
• parts of the utensil that do not touch food.
• parts of the utensil or handles that are made from material which is
exempt from tevilah.16
While the cover of a pot or frying pan requires tevilah even though it does
not come into direct contact with food,17 it does not need to be immersed
together with the pot itself, since it is considered as a separate utensil.
Covers or lids of utensils which do not come into contact with food and are
used for storage only, e.g., cookie jar lids or cake plate domes, are exempt
from tevilah altogether.28
Question: If the entire utensil must be submerged underwater at the same
time, how, practically speaking, can water reach an area of the utensil
which is being tightly gripped during the immersion?
Discussion: The best way to avoid this problem is not to grip the utensil at
all; instead, it may be placed into another, larger utensil, a wire mesh
basket or a mesh garment bag and dipped into the water.19 Once in the
water, it should be shifted around to ensure that the water covers every
part of the utensil. [Another method is to loosely tie a string to the
handle of the utensil and lower it into the water.20 ]
If neither option is practical or workable, Shulchan Aruch21 recommends
that the utensil be held “loosely” — loosely enough to allow water to touch
all areas of the utensil.22 Sometimes, however, this solution is not
practical, as a loose grip may result in the utensil being lost or broken.
In addition, the Shach23 seems to reject this solution on halachic grounds
For a utensil that needs to be held tightly, Shulchan Aruch mentions
another solution: Before immersing the utensil, one should first “wet his
hand.” There are a number of ways in which this suggestion can be understood:
• Wet your hands with sink (or mikveh) water before the immersion. Then pick
up the utensil, hold it tightly, and dip it into the water25.
• Wet your hands with mikveh water only, then pick up the utensil and, while
holding it tightly, immerse it in the water.26 (According to this view, if
sink water is used to wet the hands, the utensil may not be held tightly
when being immersed.)
• Dip one of your hands in the mikveh water, and while leaving that hand in,
use your free hand to transfer the utensil into the hand that is in the
mikveh water. The utensil may then be held tightly during the immersion27.
This solution seems to satisfy the opinion of most of the poskim.
1. Igros Moshe, Y.D. 1:57-58.
2. See Tevilas Keilim, pg. 206 and Chelkas Binyamin, Tziyunim 120:300
quoting several sources.
3. Concerning a toaster, however, some people claim that immersion ruins it
even when it is thoroughly dried. Note, however, that Rav M. Feinstein
(Igros Moshe, Y.D. 3:24) maintained that a toaster is exempt from tevilah
altogether. He explained that a toaster is not a utensil which is used to
prepare (or serve) food; rather it is a utensil which enhances already
prepared food. Thus it is not a keili seudah. Other poskim, however, do not
agree with this leniency; see Tevilas Keilim, pg. 208.
4. See Chelkas Yaakov 1:126 and 2:61, who relies on this approach
concerning immersion heaters but not for electric pots. See also She’arim
Metzuyanim b’Halachah 37:7.
5. Igros Moshe, Y.D. 1:57; Minchas Yitzchak 2:72; Minchas Shlomo 2:66-4;
Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (Koveitz Teshuvos 1:3); Shevet ha-Levi 1:57-3, among others.
6. Rav Y.Y. Weiss and Rav S. Wosner (quoted in Tevilas Keilim, pg. 164),
based on the Beis Yosef and Taz, Y.D. 120:10.
7. Based on Chochmas Adam 73:8, quoted by Elef ha-Magen on Mateh Efrayim
8. Oholei Yeshurun, Tevilas Keilim 10:12.
9. Minchas Shlomo 2:66-20. See also a similar ruling in Tevilas Keilim, pg.
164, quoting Mekor Chayim, and in Teshuvos v’Hanhagos 1:452.
10. Quoted in Halichos Chayim, vol. 2, pg. 116.
11. Rav Elyashiv (ibid.) rules that glass utensils (whose obligation in
tevilah is only mi-deRabanan) do not need to be re-immersed.
12. Minchas Shlomo 2:66-5. See Chelkas Binyamin 120:34 for an explanation.
[Although not directly addressed by the poskim, it seems that one would not
be required to immerse a utensil which is used exclusively for wrapped foods
— such as candies or cupcakes in holders.]
13. Mishnah Berurah 323:33.
14. Chochmas Adam 73:15.
15. Y.D. 120:12. But it is permitted to unscrew the handle before immersion
and screw it back on afterwards without immersing it.
16. Darchei Teshuvah 120:96.
17. Rama, Y.D. 120:5.
18. Aruch ha-Shulchan, Y.D. 120:32.
19. Y.D. 201:9.
20. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 37:10.
21. Y.D. 120:2.
22. Another solution is to rotate the utensil while holding it under the
water, so that the water comes into contact with every part of the utensil
as it is being rotated; see Darchei Teshuvah 120:30, quoting Da’as Kedoshim.
23. See Shach, Y.D. 120:6 and 198:35.
24. Nevertheless, many poskim disagree with the Shach and permit this
method; see Pri Chadash 120:8; Beiur ha-Gra 120:6; Pischei Teshuvah 120:3;
Aruch ha-Shulchan 120:21 and others.
25. Beiur ha-Gra 120:7.
26. Taz, Y.D. 120:4, and agreed to by Peri Chadash and Peri To’ar, quoted
by Darchei Teshuvah 120:33.
27. Rama, Y.D. 120:2, as explained by Levush and Mateh Yonasan, quoted by
Darchei Teshuvah 120:33. See also Sidrei Taharah, Y.D. 198:56-57.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at email@example.com