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Thought for the Day: A Leniency for Pesach! Kashering Knives and Switching Meat with Dairy Vessels

When I was but a wee lad, my grandfather taught me an essential life lesson... that's wrong; while I was but a wee lad, one of the essential life lessons that my grandfather taught me was how to flatten a rolled sheet of paper.  Just laying it flat, of course, doesn't do the trick.  He taught me that to flatten something that has been rolled, you need to roll it the other way.  That essential "trick" works on a much broader venue than just sheets of paper, of course.  The most explicit example in the Jewish year is the עשרת ימי תשובה, the ten days from Rosh HaShanah through Yom Kippur, inclusive.  The Shulchan Aruch says that one should take extra stringencies on oneself during that time as part of the whole repentance package.  We are extra scrupulous for 10 days a year -- doing things that are beyond our normal capability to sustain -- in order to straighten out our twisted souls.

Pesach, of course, is also known for its stringencies regarding חמץ.  We not only buy specially prepared and checked food, we cover every counter and its brother in aluminum foil, we kasher our ovens on blast furnace mode, and even use completely separate pots, pans, utensils, and dishes.  In case of great need, though, one may kasher his utensils.
NOTE: All the modern poskim urge acquiring pots, pans, utensils, and dishes that are only for use on Pesach.  Especially now-a-days that such things are relatively cheap and even cheaper disposable is readily available.
If you do, however, need to kasher vessels for Pesach, there is a whole siman 451 to guide you; not for the faint of heart.  The basic idea is, however it went in, that's how it comes out.  It a spoon was only used to stir coffee in your mug, which is a  כלי שני, then you only need to kasher it in a כלי שני.  Of course, though, we are super stringent, so we will require kashering in a כלי ראשון על גבי האש/a pot of boiling water that is still sitting on the flame.  If it is a roasting pan, where the חמץ went in with dry heat, we will require something like a blow torch to kasher it; or put it in the oven on self-cleaning mode.

Knives are different, for some reason.  The Mishna Brura doesn't really say why they are different, just that the are treated differently.  Even though a knife might be occasionally used straight over the fire (cutting into that juicy steak on the barbecue, for example), since most of the use of a knife is with hot liquids (at worst), we are allowed to kasher it in a כלי ראשון על גבי האש.

As long as we are talking leniences on Pesach, here's another one:  Usually you are not allowed to kasher a meat utensil to use for dairy nor vice versa.  The concern is that if we were allowed to do that, we'd rely on that all the time, and we'd forget sometime and accidentally use a dairy utensil with meat and end up eating really milk/meat food; חס ושלום.  However, once you are kashering a utensil for Pesach, you can even kasher a yearly dairy vessel to be used for meat during (and after, now) Pesach.

Amazing, right?  I mean... it is Pesach... how much leniency were you really expecting?!


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