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Thought for the Day: When Toveling Doesn't Work

Of course, once I found out how serious the Torah was that I needed to convert, I wanted to do all the mitzvos I could to prove my worth and sincerity.  At some point the mitzvah of t'vilas keilim was revealed to me.  I was all ready to tovel all my keilim when I realized a big problem.  The only time keilim require t'vila is when a Jew acquires them from a goy.  Whoops... my keilim certainly had been acquired from a goy, but they were also owned by a goy (yours truly).

You might ask, though, perhaps the keilim were jointly owned by a goy and a Jew; namely the stunning bas yisroel to whom I am currently married.  Ok.... so what?  "So," you say, "maybe they need to be toveled by the Jewish partner so she and her beautiful children can use them?"  The answer to that is that as long as a goy has partial ownership, the tuma can't be removed.  So now you might be wondering how those Jews are allowed to use tamei keilim.  In fact, the Haga'os Beis Meir is with you on that one.

Minchas Shlomo (Vol 1, 18:9) answers that while the obligation to tovel is arguably d'oraiso, the prohibition against using a keili that has not been toveled is unequivocally d'rabanan.  That is, it is not the tuma that is preventing you from using the keili, it is a legislative enactment of Chazal that is preventing you from using the keili.  That being the case, since you are permitted to own a keili with a goy, clearly Chazal did not extend the decree to cases where it was impossible to remove the tuma.

That was fun!  Let's try another one: Chazal tell us that eating without a bracha is like stealing from HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  Everything belongs to Him, as we say in Shmoneh Esrei when we refer to HaShem as "koneh hakol"; literally, "one who has acquired everything".  (It means, of course, "the Creator of all", but Chazal used "koneh" instead of "borei" to underscore that each and every creation was a choice.)  Suppose you can't remember if you made a bracha on that apple.  On the one hand, the rule is "safei d'rabanan l'kula", brachos are d'rabanan, so you don't make bracha when in doubt.  But now you are probably thinking, "Whoa!  That rule should only apply to birkos ha'mitzvos, because eating without a bracha is like stealing!"  The Maharsha is with you on that one.  This one is not so simple, because stealing is stealing and you can't just decree that away.

The Minchas Shlomo has an answer to that one also, and even in the same volume, chapter, and section.  I bet you can hardly wait!


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