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Vessels in Mikveh

I am starting to keep kosher and somebody mentioned that all my pots and dishes need to be dunked in a mikveh. I’ve never heard about that. Why is that and what are the rules?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Torah (Numbers 31:23) describes how the Jewish people, upon acquiring vessels, immersed them in a mikveh. The purpose of the immersion in the mikveh is in order to purify and elevate it in holiness. (Y.D. 120, Taz 1)

Metal or glass utensils must be immersed in a mikveh. However, wood and plastic utensils do not require immersion. Regarding porcelain, china and Corningware, some have the custom to immerse these without a blessing.

Disposable utensils (even metal and glass) do not require immersion. ("Igrot Moshe" Y.D. 3:23)

This obligation only applies to utensils that come into contact with food during normal use, either in preparation of the food or in its consumption. (Y.D. 120:1) That means a toaster does require immersion, but a trivet does not.

If the vessel was manufactured by a Jew, then it does not require dunking. (This is one advantage of buying Israeli products!)

Regarding utensils with electric components, only the part that comes into contact with the food needs to be immersed. ("Igrot Moshe" by R' M. Feinstein, Y.D. 1:57)

Here is the actual procedure:

The vessels can be dunked in any bona fide mikveh, or in a large body of natural water such as a lake or river. A swimming pool, bathtub, etc. do not qualify.

The utensil should be cleaned before immersion – i.e. rust, labels, price tags and anything which does not allow the waters of the mikveh to come into contact with all the parts of the utensil must be removed. (Y.D. 120:13, 202:1, 2)

Before immersing utensils, recite the blessing, "Boruch Ata Ado-noy, Elohenu Melech Ha'Olam, asher kideshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al tevilat keilim." (Y.D. 120:3)

The entire utensil must be immersed at one time, including the handles. The lid of a pot must also be immersed but not necessarily at the same time as the pot. (Y.D. 120 Pitchei Teshuvah 3, 120:5 Rema, 120:12)

The utensil should be lightly held and should also be immersed so that water enters the inside of the utensil. (Y.D. 120:2, 202:6,7,8)

It is a misconception that one may use a utensil which was not immersed on a one-time basis. If one cannot immerse a utensil, he may give it to a non-Jew, then borrow it back and use it temporarily. (Y.D. 120:8, 16)

Finally, since this is technically not an issue of “kosher,” food that was cooked in an “non-immersed vessel” is permitted. (Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 120:17) Of course, before eating, it should be transferred to a utensil that was properly immersed.

Bon appetite!

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