By Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
A little over a year ago, an ad appeared in many newspapers in Eretz Yisrael, stating that the Badat”z Eidah Chareidis of Yerushalayim has halted its kashrus supervision on a certain brand of pots. Therefore, this Rabbinic supervising agency proclaimed, that those purchasing the pots should be aware that haga’ala (kosherizing the new pots via boiling hot water) and tevilla (dipping them into a Mikva) are required. This announcement left many puzzled, as this “requirement” to kasher new pots is not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch! What is required, is kashering pots that have become non-kosher, or pots formerly owned/used by a non-Jew, or in order to render used pots fit for Pesach use. Is this issue of doing the same kosherization for brand new pots a halacha? Chumra? Why do some people do it and others seem not have even heard of it?
To address these issues, and to hopefully shed some light on the halachic issues involved, I previously wrote a short overview posted on the Jerusalem Kosher News website. This article is a much expanded version, including source notes and the various halachic rationales involved.
The Biblical source for requiring the kosherization of used pots from a non-Jew is after the War with Midian, when Klal Yisrael were commanded to kasher their spoils of war that were used for food preparation. “This is the rule that God commanded Moshe: As far as the gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead are concerned, whatever was used over fire must be made to go through fire and purged…” The principle underlying the methodology of kashering is found in the phrase, ‘whatever was used over fire must be made to go through fire…’; that is to say, the manner in which a utensil was being used when the forbidden food entered it determines how it will be kashered: Utensils which came into direct contact with fire are kashered by direct contact with fire; utensils which were placed on the fire with liquids in them are kashered by boiling liquid.
O.K., one might ask, but that passage was describing utensils used by non-Jews; we are referring to brand new pots, never used! In fact the Mishna Berura explicitly says that such pots do not need kashering, only dipping in a Mikva (tevilla). If so, where would such a notion come from?
The answer is that nowadays many pot manufacturers add a “sheen” to the finished pot in order to increase consumer appeal, as people seem to prefer a shiny look for their pot, over a dull one. However, this might unwittingly cause a kashrus concern. The problem arises when the compound used to lubricate and facilitate this buffing in to achieve this “sheen” contains a non-kosher oil or fat (grease). The Eidah Chareidis and different kashrus organizations give hashgachos on various utensils (ex. aluminum disposable pans) in order to make sure that any oil used in manufacturing is vegetable or petroleum based and so would not have this problem at all.
However, even without a hashgacha, it is far from a forgone conclusion that haga’alah is required, due to various reasons:
1. It is not certain that these pots have this sheen (maybe a majority, but by no means all).
2. It is entirely possible that even with a “sheen”, nonetheless kosher oils (grease) are used in the makeup of the compound.
3. Even if one wants to assume that the oils and grease used are indeed non-kosher, and therefore problematic, and require the pots to be kashered [like the opinions of the Chazon Ish and Har Tzvi who say haga’alah (kosherizing via boiling water) is required and not the more stringent libun (actually placing the utensil into a direct fire until red hot)], it must be noted that they were referring to a situation where the new pots were purposely buffed with actual non-kosher oils while being heated, which is fairly uncertain here.
4. Many contemporary authorities, including the Minchas Yitzchak (Ga’avad of the Eidah Chareidis), the Tzitz Eliezer, Rav Menashe Klein, the Rivevos Efraim, Rav Ovadia Yosef, the Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa, Rav Yisrael Belsky, and Rav Avrohom Blumenkrantz all maintain that even if the pot was buffed with actual non-kosher grease, nowadays it is clear that the oils used are rendered completely unfit for consumption and are utterly inedible (Pagum) to the extent that even a dog would not eat it, and consequentially do not present a kashrus concern. Some add that the amount of non-kosher substance in the makeup of the buffing compound is unquestionably nullified, as it only present in negligible amounts. These decisors maintain that even for Pesach one does not have to be stringent due to the above-mentioned reasons.
5. Rav Moshe Feinstein, (heard from Rav Shmuel Feurst of Chicago) was lenient as well, but for an entirely different reason: The reason why we hold a pot that has absorbed taste more than 24 hours prior still remains prohibited – is because gezaira atu ben yomo – one might make a mistake and use a pot that was used for non-kosher within 24 hours prior and transgress a Biblical prohibition. But with these pots, it is not physically possible for someone to buy a new pot within 24 hours of its actual manufacture, and therefore in this instance Chazal would not have made such a decree, and as a result the pot does not require any kashering.
6. And, most tellingly, due to the above reasons, the Eidah Chareidis themselves, in their annual Madrich HaKashrus [Pesach 5770, pg. 25 – 26] – state that after buying new pots that have this issue, ‘the “custom” is to be “stringent” to Kasher it. It does not state that this “oil” used renders the pot forbidden until it is kashered, rather that the minhag is to be machmir to do so because of this concern. In other words, the Badat”z themselves hold that issue falls under the category of chumra and not practical halacha, most assuredly due to the halachic rationales involved as well as the lenient ruling of the Gedolim, including their own Av Beis Din. In fact, Rav Yaakov Blau shlit”a, a senior member of the Badat”z Eidah Chareidis and one of the heads of their hashgacha, told this author explicitly (on Chol Hamoed Pesach 5771) that the need to kasher new pots is “stam a chumra b’alma“, a mere stringency, but qualified that with saying “aval yesh makom l’chumrah zu“, that there is still halachic room for this stringency.
In conclusion, it seems that if one would like to be stringent and kasher his new pot in order to remove any possible doubt, he is within his rights to do so, as it has become “customary” among many in Eretz Yisrael, and especially for Pesach. But the halachic bottom line is that with or without the hashgacha, the new pots most definitely do not require kashering before use, as Rav Menashe Klein writes “Puk Chazi Mah Ama davar”, that the common custom is to be lenient and not to require kashering for these pots at all.
This article originally appeared on the Ohr Somayach website: www.ohr.edu.
For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author:firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Yehuda Spitz serves as the Shaul U’ Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim. He also currently writes a contemporary halacha column for the Ohr Somayach website titled “Insights Into Halacha“. http://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/.
Mishna Avodah Zarah 75b, Rambam (Hilchos Maachalos Asuros Ch. 17, 3), Tur/Shulchan Aruch Y”D 121.
This paragraph was paraphrased from the introduction to the English version of Rabbi Tzvi Cohen’s “Tevillath Keilim”. This halachic rule is known as ‘k’bolo kach polto’, meaning in the same method that it absorbed (cooked in) the taste or flavor of the non-kosher food, determines the process needed to purge the utensil of it, and thus rendering the utensil fit for kosher use.
Chazon Ish (Y”D 44, 4), Shu”t Har Tzvi (Y”D 110). It is important to note that it is also possible that at the time of this buffing, the temperature may not actually be Yad Soledes, and therefore may not truly assur the pot at all. Furthermore, the Tzitz Eliezer (ibid, 5) adds that it is not completely clear that these Gedolim actually maintain that haga’alah is required, as they are trying to disprove others who assert that the more stringent libun is necessary and haga’alah would not be sufficient; the Har Tzvi and Chazon Ish merely state that haga’alah would definitely work.
The Mishna Halachos adds several more reasons to be lenient: 1. It’s possible that due to the intense heat used in forming the pot (annealing process), the actual issur might get burned off. 2. A sheen is not considered a real issur [See Shu”t Tuv Ta’am V’Da’as – Mahadura Kama 182] – since it’s only a mashehu (miniscule amount) and not genuine mammashos of issur, and can not actually impart a taste [The Rivevos Efraim and Shulchan HaLevi (below) also bring this sevara]. Furthermore, the fact that it is absorbed in the metal for so long will likely render it Pagum. (See also Y”D 99, 7, that according to all opinions, by a bleeya of issur mu’at which is pagum, the pot does not need to be kashered.)
Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak (vol. 4, 112), Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 12, 55), Shu”t Mishna Halachos (vol. 7, 112), Shu”t Rivevos Efraim (vol. 6, end 212), Shu”t Yabia Omer (vol. 6, Y”D 10), Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa cited in Kovetz Moriah (vol. 96, Nisan 5750, pg. 98, s.v. elah), Shu”t Shulchan HaLevi (vol. 1, Ch. 24, 20) and Rav Avrohom Blumenkrantz’s Kovetz Hilchos Pesach (5769, p. 66)
Even though Halacha normally dictates that something that becomes Pagum is only muttar bedieved, nevertheless, in our scenario, still, many Poskim [including the Rema (Toras Chata’as 85, 23), Minchas Yaakov (ad loc 73), Pri Toar (Y”D 103, 7), and Pri Megadim (Y”D 103, S.D. end 11, M.Z. 6 end s.v. Da)] differentiate that something that starts out Pagum, is muttar even l’chatchila. The contemporary Poskim apply this to our case as well, that since the issur involved would be rendered pagum long before the pot’s initial use, one may therefore rely on this even l’chatchila.
Shu”t Shulchan HaLevi ibid. Rav Belsky adds several more reasons to be lenient, including the fact that the amount of non-kosher oils used in the buffing compound (which weighs 3.5 oz.) is not more than 12%, and comes out that there is only .42 oz. of said oil buffed in. This means that there is always 200 times the amount of treif oil buffed in, and is definitely battel.
This psak was related to me by my former Chavrusa and Co-Rosh Chabura in Yeshivas Mir, Rabbi Aver Jacobs, currently a Rosh Kollel in Denver, Colorado. It is also brought in Ohalei Yeshurun (vol. 1, Ch. 4 note 23).
There is a similar case in Y”D 108, 3 of the pala, that where it was not possible to do Chazal were not gozer. See also Kovetz Yagdil Torah (5640, vol. 4, 19, brought in the aforementioned Tzitz Eliezer ibid. 3) – which states a similar sevara, that Chazal were not gozer on something completely non-common, and therefore since it’s not possible to use the pot on the same day that it absorbed the issur, one does not have to be choshesh for gezeiras Chazal. Rav Y.Y. Neuwirth (author of Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa, in Kovetz Moriah cited above) expresses a similar sevara. However, the Seridei Aish (Shu”t vol.2, end 35) does not accept this comparison, as the case in Y”D 108 is where one has no other options; in our case, he maintains that one has alternative solutions available: to buy from a fellow Jew or at least kasher the pot if bought from a non-Jew. [Yet, it must be noted that from the way the Seridei Aish addressed the issue, it seems that he understood the problem to be referring to mammashos on the pot, as he compares our case to one of an oven that’s coated in grease and almost impossible to clean properly, and not a problem of absorbed taste, which is the actual issue.]
I spoke with the Badatz mashgiach in charge of overseeing pot production, who clarified their shitta. He explained that sometimes treif oils are used in the process, even though generally kosher is used, and this oil is definitely “aino rau’i l’achilah” – not fit to be eaten. However, they are choshesh that it is not truly Pagum, and therefore maintain that based on this chashash one should definitely kasher a new pot. [He added that it’s possible the process of manufacturing pots may have changed from the time the Minchas Yitzchak wrote his teshuva.] In the Badatz’s most recent Madrich HaKashrus (Pesach 5771, bottom of page 38) it is written explicitly in the name of Rav Moshe Aryeh Freund that the need for kashering new pots is only a chumra, based on a chashash that the ta’am of shuman issur was possibly not rendered pagum, and b’makom hatzorech one does not have to be choshesh for this. See also Kovetz M’Bais Levi (vol 1, page 32, footnote 1; as well as Kovetz Moriah vol. 99, Iyar 5751 page 88), where Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner writes similarly: That even though he maintains that one should kasher a new pot, he explains that it is only m’taam chumrah, based on a slight chashash that indeed the oil used was possibly not kosher and also not pagum; however, he acknowledges that m’din there is no obligation to kasher it. See also Shu”t Avnei Yashpei (vol. 2, 58) who rules similarly in the name of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Shu”t Teshuvos v’Hanhagos vol.1, 442 and Shu”t Moadim U’Zmanim vol. 4, 282, 1) writes likewise, that it’s kdai l’ha’agel v’lo l’hakel. For an opposing view to all shitos mentioned above, see Shu”t Kinyan Torah B’Halacha (vol. 4, 92 s.k. 5) who asserts that nowadays the oil used (cheilev) is vaday not Pagum, and maintains that one is obligated to do haga’alah on all new pots. However, renowned kashrus expert Rabbi Mordechai Kuber pointed out to me that Kinyan Torah was probably referring to cast iron pots (as opposed to the ubiquitous stainless steel pots), which come with an oil coating to prevent rust; but they use lard, not cheilev in the manufacturing process.
Even among those Poskim who are of the opinion that one should kasher a new pot, many feel that the usual requirements of haga’alah are relaxed in our case. For example, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Wosner and Rav Feinhandler (quoted in last footnote) all maintain that since the kashering in our case is only m’taam chumrah, therefore in order to kasher, all that is required is to do haga’alah on the inside – let the pot fill up and heat it until a rolling boil where it will splash. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo on Moadim vol. 2, Hilchos Pesach, Ch. 3, Dvar Halacha end 4, footnote 12, based on Shu”t Minchas Shlomo Tinyana end 51) was even more lenient. He held that since the whole problem is a “chashash b’almah“, all one has to do is add a little water to the pot and heat it until it’s Yad Soledes; by doing so, the walls also heat up and are considered kashered. The Tzitz Eliezer (quoted above) who holds that there is no reason to do haga’alah, adds that if one wants to be machmir, he can rely on kashering through Iruy (pouring), even though normally that would not be sufficient.