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Thought for the Day: A Deep Dive into T'vila

I said that I don't know how some people got the idea they could use keili that requires t'vila once before toveling (Toveling Keilim on Shabbos).  I didn't mean that I had no inkling of how such a preposterous rumor got started, I just meant that I didn't know with certainty.  Several people commented to me that they knew, and all said basically the same idea.  Still, I wasn't completely convinced till one person told me that Facebook had conducted a survey of 100 people, and that's the answer they all gave.  I didn't even know you could run a survey on Facebook and I was shocked to learn that this chaver of mine even knew that much about Facebook.

Still and all... good enough proof for me.  So know I know; it is a misconception about disposable aluminum pans.  Let's get some facts and debunk this myth.

To require t'vila, an object must be:
  1. A halachic keili.  The term "keili" is very broad.  Of course it includes kitchen utensils, tools, and appliances; but it also includes clothing.  It is something that has a function and can be used multiple times to perform that function; that is, it is not consumed by its usage.  That means, for example, that cloth diapers are keilim, but disposable diapers are not.  Handkerchiefs are keilim; facial tissue (oh for goodness sakes, we both know I mean kleenex) are not.  Paper cups are questionable, which is why you don't want to make kiddush or wash for a bread meal using one.
  2. Made of metal (d'oraisa) or glass (d'rabanan).  Metal is learned from the Torah's description of what was done after Klal Yisrael, b'ezras HaShem, whupped the Midianites (Bamidbar 31:21-24).  Glass is a similar material in that it can melted and reformed, so Chazal decreed that glass keilim require t'vila whenever metal would.  Aluminum is of questionable status in halacha; so an aluminum keili that would require t'vila if it were made of metal or glass should preferably be immersed with something else that definitely requires t'vila.
  3. Used for tzorchei s'uda -- meal necessities.  Of course that includes pots, pans, and utensils.  It also includes serving trays and coffee pots.
  4. Was once (while satisfying above three conditions) owned by a goy, and is now owned by a Jew.
Let's start easy.  I have two glasses that used to be jam jars. They happen to be the perfect size for my morning orange juice (with lots of pulp Mrs. C), and I have never toveled them.  Not because I am an avarian (in this matter, anyway), but because they started their life as disposable packaging for jam.  After the jam was used up, I decided that I would keep them and convert them into juice glasses.  That means that when they started their lives, they satisfied neither (1) (not a keili) nor (3) (not for tzorchei s'uda).  I changed their status, so by the time they satisfied (1) and (3) they were already owned by a Jew; hence  they do not satisfy (4)

How about (so-called) disposable aluminum pans?  If I plan to throw them out after the first use, then they don't satisfy (1) and so I may cook with them, serve from them (we're very informal at home), refrigerate what's left in them, rewarm them, serve them again, refrigerate the leftovers again, warm them again, eat them myself (my wife is not touching anything that's been rewarmed twice), and then finally dispose of them in the blue recycle bin; all without toveling them.  If, however, I plan to wash them out and reuse (disposable my eye!  these things are expensive!)  them for cooking, or additional storage in the fridge, or as serving dishes; then I must tovel them before even the first use.

Just to be absolutely clear: either I never have to tovel them, or I must tovel them before even the first use.

Regarding aluminum pans in my house.  I am a cheapskate and always plan to reuse them.  My  wife is practical and always plans to throw them out.  So I tovel them (lots at one time) with a new shot glass or knife.


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