Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi, Los Angeles, CA

Dipping Your Dishes

by | Jun 29, 2009 | 12 comments

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

By Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.


  1. ?

    what about a coffee cup that the top is plastic but the lip of the cup is medal?

  2. TH

    If the metal is drunken from as in your case, or is on the outside but is supporting the plastic then it would require tevilah.
    When in doubt its always best to tovel without a bracha

  3. Sender

    I wonder if Reb Moshe would consider modern day urns as two separate Keilim too. The urn he describes in teshuva is a 1956 model with a separate casing and element at the top.

  4. mtjster

    it is worth noting, that there is a questions as to whether a person should tovel a gift before giving it. You forgot to mention in your blog that one is allowed to tovel someone elses stuff even without there permission, being such the gift question should be a no brainer. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach says that one may not tovel a gift before giving it b/c we are not sure whether they will wind up keeping it or bringing it back to the store. Maybe the halacha would change based on the specific stores return policy….

  5. shlomo

    1st of all your name should be in capitals, after all Tiferes Yerushalayim is the capiital of the Torah world. I wasn’t sure by what gift question you meant, and your quote from Rav Shlomo Zalman contradicts what you say. Maybe you are bothered by what is bothering me, why can’t the storekeeper tovel it? maybe Rabbi Haber can source that?

  6. Shalom

    Elisha, where are you? I am waiting for you to comment on how our religion is racist? But the truth is it isn’t, if we bought from you we would also toviel.

  7. TH

    Sender – How do you know the 1956 urns had elements on top? Maybe he’s talking about a different appliance altogether? I fail to see how an element on top would work in an urn. The sevara he says, that the electric element or wiring is separated from the food part would apply to every appliance I could think of.
    MTJster – the greater issue with a gift would be the same as with a store owner, i.e. that the gift giver has no obligation to tovel, and the recipient has not yet received the gift and is therefore also not obligated. Nowhere in the classical texts does it mention this would be a problem, it was raised by several acharonim in the last 50 years or so.
    Shlomo – I hope I resolved some of your issues.

  8. Dov

    If one is giving a gift to someone who may not tovel it, wouldn’t it be best to make a kinyan first to transfer ownership to the recipient, then tovel on his behalf, then give the gift? Wouldn’t this solve all the issues, including potential lifnei iver that you didn’t relate to?

  9. TH

    One could do that, but if RSZ is worried about the guy returning it that would still be a problem. In any case, its not necessary according to many other poskim.
    Where is there lifnei Iveir? Just tell the recipeint what you did! If you don’t think he’ll tovel it then you should for sure tovel it for him. If he has the ability to tovel it and doesn’t thata not lifnei iver.

  10. Davida

    I recently purchased an electric kettle that is made out of thick plastic, but has a thick piece of metal at the bottom of kettle where you pour the water in. Inside the bottom of the kettle there are some electrical components. Would you say this follows the same psak as the toaster?

  11. Tzvi Haber

    A kettle would be more similar to an urn and should be toveled fully. if the element is in a separate casing you can immerse it top down, including the metal plate at the bottom, up until that casing.

  12. shlomo

    Rabbi Haber
    I hope you get updates when a new question comes in, because I dont know how to reach you. I was wondering would a sandwich maker which you make only grilled cheese require tevilah ? It would seem from the Iggros Moshe that any klei tikun ochel that is used on already edible food would not require tevilah (except for an urn).
    Thank You


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