Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Toveling Keilim on Shabbos

When you've been married as long as I have, there is a lot of non-verbal communication going on; must of which is lost on passers-by.  Take this morning, for example; I could just tell that my wife was hankering for a little halacha pop quiz.  (Sometimes I am so sensitive to her aura that I get these feeling about what she wants even before she does; and even afterward she may still not realize that that was her ratzon.  She is very lucky to have me, let me tell you.)  So I asked her, "How many strips of bacon are you allowed to eat?"  "Uh... zero...", she answered.  So far so good.  "Ok; how many bites of cheeseburger are you allowed to take?"  "I am going to still go with zero."  She's amazing, eh?  "Ok... here's a hard one, now: how many times are you allowed to use a keili before toveling it?"  "Zero, of course."

This came up in discussion of what do to about a new keili that you need to Shabbos but didn't have time to tovel before Shabbos.  For argument's sake, you do not have the option to not use the keili.  (Trust me, I can cook up a case, no matter how strict you want to be.)  What's the problem?  I'm glad you asked.  It is forbidden for a Jew to use a keili for tzorchei s'uda (cooking, serving food, eating with, etc)  that is owned by a Jew and was acquired from a goy.  Like any other halachic topic, there are lots of details, but that's the basic.  Therefore toveling a keili allows you to use something that was previously unusable.  That smacks of "tikun maneh"/fixing a utensil, which falls under the malacha of maka b'patish.  It only smacks of that because there has been no physical change.  Tikun maneh mi'di'oraisah, therefore, it is not; mi'd'rabanan, however, it is considered a tikun and so toveling keilim on Shabbos is assur.

[Off topic: There is no issur on the food that is prepared in an un-toveled utensil, however.  That means that you may, for example, drink coffee that was made in an un-toveled coffee maker.  This can happen if  you have non-frum relatives and/or friends; they of course have not toveled their coffee maker but also of course know that you can drink coffee; they usually even proudly show you the hechsher on the bag.  You shouldn't make the coffee yourself, since the issur is not only on the owner.  You also shouldn't ask your mother-in-law to make the coffee, as that is asking her to transgress.  It seems that it's ok to pour yourself the coffee, but best to consult with your own posek for any more details.]

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 323:7) gives a single eitza: give the keili to a goy as a present and then borrow it back from him.  I know, I know... you are wondering what happened to the issur d'rabanan of giving a gift on Shabbos; I know, because I was wondering that myself.  It seems the Shulchan Aruch is suggesting you avoid transgressing one issur d'rabanan by transgressing another!  Upon further investigation, however, I found that the rabinic injunction against giving gifts on Shabbos is a branch of the the issur against doing business on Shabbos, which in turn (besides preventing one from coming to write) is to prevent us from performing mundane activities on the Holy Sabbath.  The Sha'arei T'shuva explains that the hedge provided by the g'zeira around business activities does not extend to activities that are for sabbatical needs.  Hence there is not prohibition against giving a gift to a goy on Shabbos when that act it to permit to borrow that utensil back and use it to increase and/or enable oneg Shabbos.

Another eitza (not suggested by the Shulchan Aruch) would be to mafkir (make ownerless) the keili.  Once it is ownerless, of course, it is not owned by a Jew and so it may be used without being first toveled.  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was not thrilled with that plan (it looks pretty suspicious to mafkir your own utensil, then pick it up and use it -- all the while claiming that you are sincerely making it ownerless).  None the less, he does permit it if there are no other options (can't find a goy, eh?), and R' Elyashiv thinks it is just fine, even l'chatchila.

As to why people think they can use a keili once before toveling it... I don't know; and even my wife didn't know that one!


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…