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Thought for the Day: Kashering Vessels from Absorption of Kosher (or Not) Food

Besides the normal issues that need to be addressed when getting coffee from a coffee shop, here's one you don't have: their keilim don't require t'vila.  What about when having coffee with non-frum Jews in their house?  Let's say they bought coffee cake from the kosher bakery and also are providing paper/plastic plates and forks.  One issue remains: they usually aren't going to buy a bucket o' coffee; they'll just make it.  After all, what could be wrong with a coffee maker that never has anything in it but kosher coffee?  Of course, we know the problem: they didn't tovel that carafe (probably didn't even know there is such a thing).  So how do you drink coffee there?

There's a simple (and fundamental) answer: A Jew is required to tovel his keilim and it is forbidden for him to use them until they have been properly immersed in a kosher mikvah.  (Not even once!)  None the less, if they made food in those keilim -- even though they were not allowed to do so -- the food itself is as kosher as it ever was.  There is not even a rabbinic injunction against using such food.  Hold that thought.

There are two basic ways to kasher vessels: הגעלה/boiling the heck out of it and ליבון/burning it out.  The general rule is: however it went it, that's how it comes out.  There is an interesting exception.  If you are kashering a vessel from something permitted, then it only needs הגעלה, even though it was done on a flame.  Why would you need to kasher something that absorbed kosher food?  Two cases come to mind (because R' Dovid Cohen of the CRC mentioned them), both involving a frying pan:

  • You used your pareve pan (ok, ok, your husband used your pareve pan) for a cheese omelette or a eggs with salami.
  • You cooked (yes... of course I mean your husband cooked) a cheese omelette in a fleishig pan that hadn't been used for more than 24 hours.  Since it has been more than 24 hours, the absorbed meat is נותן טעם לפגם/gives a bad taste, so there is no issur of cooking meat with milk.
    • Note: You are not allowed to do this לכתחילה because Chazal were afraid you'd make a mistake and use that pan less than 24 hours since the meat was cooked.  However, even if you did cook in that pan לכתחילה, there is still nothing wrong with the food.  Hold that thought also.
In both cases, you can kasher the pan with הגעלה; saving both the pan and your shalom bayis.

Now here's an interesting case for the kosher supervision agencies.  Suppose you have a facility in America makes both dairy and pareve foods in the same vessel.  They use regular milk (that is, not חלב ישראל), which the agency dutifully certifies as "Kosher - Dairy".  Now they want to kasher the keilim for the pareve run.  Hang on, though.  True enough, many people rely on R' Moshe that regular milk in America is in the category of חלב ישראל, so for them we need to kasher only with הגעלה.  Others rely on R' Moshe, but still want חלב ישראל as a stringency; for them the absorbed milk is also permissible and so the keilim only require הגעלה.  However, there are those who do not rely on that and they hold that regular milk in America is really, really forbidden.  According to them, ליבון is required to kasher the vessel; so if only הגעלה is performed, the vessel is still michig.  How can the agency certify the product as pareve without doing ליבון?

So this brilliant: just wait 24 hours between runs.  According to the kosher agency, who holds that regular milk in America is חלב ישראל, the keilim can be 100% kashered with just הגעלה.  According to those who hold that regular milk in America is forbidden, once it has been more than 24 hours, then that absorbed (forbidden) milk is נותן טעם לפגם!  There is nothing wrong with eating the food cooked in there and it is certainly 100% pareve.

Your only problem would be if you are a vegan; which itself is a problem.

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