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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Dipping Your Dishes

By Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

The right way to Tovel your dishes and pots

We are obligated to immerse all metal, lead or glass dishes that were purchased or received from a non-Jew. This is inferred from Bamidbar 31:23 where the Jewish people were instructed to dip the dishes they had taken from the spoils of the war with Midyan in a Mikvah.

The Mikvah that is to be used for keilim (vessels) has to be a fully kosher Mikvah. An ocean, or any body of water that is spring fed, may also be used. If it is rain fed then it must be still (calm) waters.

The tevilah can be performed by any Jewish adult or a Jewish child being watched by a Jewish Adult. A non Jew may assist the Jew in Toveling, provided that a Jew is supervising him and is toveling simultaneously and made the blessing for both of them.

The blessing (Asher Kidshonu B’mitzvosav Vtzivanu Al Tvilas Keli) should be made prior to the immersion. If one is Toveling several items he says Al Tevilas Keilim.

The Tevilah may be done anytime other than Shabbos and Yom Tov.

The dish must be fully immersed, both inside and out, including the handles and any permanently attached parts. Therefore one should let go of the item while it is underwater for a moment, hold it very loosely, or wet ones hands before immersing the vessel. Many Mikvaos provide an appropriate basket that one can put the utensils into and they will get fully covered.

Electric appliances (such as an urn) should be immersed up to the beginning of the electric housing, provided that the entire portion of the appliance that comes into contact with the food is under water. (Igros Moshe YD 1:57).

One is only obligated to immerse utensils that the owner is planning on using for food. Therefore a shopkeeper does not have to Tovel his inventory, indeed, even if he does so it won’t help for the customer. So if one is purchasing items in a store with a Mikvah, they should first purchase the item and then Tovel it.

Dishes that are rented or borrowed from a non Jew do not require Tevilah.

One who reuses bottles that were specifically designed for the product that they were sold with such as Snapple or whiskey bottles does not need to Tovel them. With metal containers, it’s recommended to immerse them without a Bracha. (Igros Moshe YD 2:40,137)

A utensil that exclusively does a preliminary act with the food, and even after being used the food will require more processing should be immersed without a Bracha. Therefore a coffee grinder should be Toveled without a bracha because the grounds need to be cooked before they become edible.

A meat thermometer does not need Tevilah

China, even when glazed does not need Tevilah. Pyrex, Duralex and the like do.

Non metallic utensils that can not be identified as having glass as a composite material do not need Tevilah. Some say that Corelle and Corning are included in this. Many recommend Toveling them without a Bracha.

Stickers labels and the like must be removed. If there is a very small amount of residue, and he wouldn’t ordinarily mind it being there, he need not be concerned.

Disposable dishes such as aluminum pans that are intended for one time use are not considered keilim and do not require Tevilah even if they are reused several times. If they are of such durability that they could be used on a permanent basis, they would require Tevilah before the first use. This would apply even if your intention is to dispose of the pan after one use because of its low cost.

A Toaster (that is used exclusively to toast bread) does not require Tevilah.  (Igros Moshe YD 3:24)

When selling one’s Chametz one should be careful not to sell their actual dishes rather they should sell the Chametz absorbed in the dishes. If he sold the actual dishes he would have to Tovel them according to many Poskim.

Many are of the opinion that a convert to Judaism must Tovel all their dishes without a blessing. 

Utensils that require koshering and Tevilah should be koshered first. 

In extenuating circumstances such as on Shabbos one may gift the utensils to a non Jew and then borrow them back to avoid the obligation to Tovel.  This should only be done with rabbinic guidance.

UPDATE 7/1/2009 See the comments for more about stores and gifts

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