The gemara in Avodah Zara 75b discusses the case of a Jew who buys utensils from a non-Jew. The mishna there states that those utensils whose use involves immersion in water must be immersed and that those whose use involves heat must be heated (at the temperature of their use). The gemara states that all utensils bought from a non-Jew, regardless of how they are used, must ultimately be immersed in water before they can be used. This law is derived from Numbers 31:21-24. After their war with Midyan, the Jews were commanded to purify the spoils of war that they had amassed. Verse 23 states "That which goes through fire must be passed through fire and it will become purified (v'taheir)...and that which does not go through fire shall be passed through water." The gemara says that the word v'taheir is extra in context, and thus it teaches that even a utensil whose purification comes via fire must still be passed through water afterwards before it can be used.

Until now we have not distinguished between new and old utensils. Old utensils, i.e. those that have actually been used by a non-Jew, require first that one clean out any food particles that have been absorbed into the utensil. Those processes, the ones that require heating, are not the topic of this Chabura. For the rest of this week and next week we will deal specifically with the cases involving vessels newly bought from a non-Jew which require only immersion (tevila) before they may be used.

What is the status of this law? Most opinions say that it is a law from the Torah (d'oraita). Rambam (Hil. Ma'achalot Asurot 17:5) uses an interesting language, saying that it is "mi-divrei soferim," literally that it is an ordinance of the scribes. While this language implies that this is a law instituted by the Rabbis (d'rabbanan), there are those who claim that what this term really means is that the law is d'oraita, except that its details are explained by the Rabbis. This discussion will play itself out over the course of the Chabura. Finally, there is the view of the last lines of the Yerushalmi in Avodah Zara which claim that the law that one must immerse utensils bought from a non-Jew is similar to the law of conversion, as the utensil leaves behind its state of impurity and enters into the pure state of the Jewish people.


What type of immersion is required for utensils? Immersion in general requires water that has not been drawn (mayim she'uvim), but the amount necessary differs in different cases. A woman who immerses for her menstrual period must be in a pool (mikveh) of no less than 40 se'ah. On the other hand, utensils which became ritually impure (through contact with a dead body, etc.) only require the amount of water that is necessary to cover them all around. To which of these models is our law comparable? The easiest answer is that brought by the gemara. Verse 23 makes a reference to "mei niddah," the waters of a menstruating woman, and thus it states that 40 se'ah are required. Tosafot there point out that even though any amount is normally fine for impure vessels, this law is a chiddush (a "new law"), meaning that since we would not have been able to derive this law without a specific verse to teach it to us, therefore all that we know about the law must stem from the verse and not from logic. Several poskim note that while in general a ma'ayan, or running stream, suffices for tevila, even with less than 40 se'ah, here that is not the case, as 40 se'ah are always needed. Thus, they ask how it can be that this law is seemingly stricter than the regular Torah-ordained laws of immersion. Radvaz, taking the view that Rambam believes this law to be a Rabbinic ordination, says that this law is not stricter than any Torah law, but rather that one should not think that since it is only a Rabbinic law that one can thus be lenient with regard to the amount of water being used. The Perisha claims that certain books compare our law to the regular law of impure vessels, and thus any amount of water will suffice as long as the entire utensil comes in contact with water. The Aruch HaShulchan says that if there is no other option (sha'at ha-dechak), then less than 40 se'ah may be used.


What types of utensils require tevila? While we will deal with various materials in further detail next week, the gemara gives us two that definitely do, and these two are codified by the Rambam. The first is any metal utensil, as verse 22 lists a series of metals from which the spoils of war were made. The second material is glass, as it is similar to metal in that it can be fixed (by melting) if broken. This Chabura will deal with glass based on this view of it, while next week we will investigate the various discussions concerning the status of glass in this context. The second condition is that the utensil be one that is used for food (klei se'udah), as those were the types captured from Midyan. Metal utensils, such as scissors or those used for any non-food related activity do not require tevila. What are the parameters of these two conditions? What about a utensil that is made from metal plus wood (which does not require tevila)? What is considered to be a kli se'udah?

With regard to utensils made from metal plus another material that does not require tevila, Tosafot connect the issue to the discussion in Shabbat 60a concerning "ma'amid." A ma'amid is a material in an object that serves as a support for that object. The example in our case is a cup made of wood that has metal only on the outside of the cup. Is this a metal utensil? According to the view that the ma'amid is what is important, the metal takes precedence and the utensil requires immersion. However, Tosafot note that even according to that view, there is still a problem. The requirement of kli se'udah means that the part of the utensil that is important to the serving of food must be made out of metal (or glass). If only the outside of a cup is made out of metal, but the part that holds the liquid is made out of wood, which does not require tevila, then no tevila is required. Rosh mentions a similar case, regarding utensils whose rims were metal but were otherwise made out of wood. He also invokes the requirement of kli se'udah and says that no tevila is needed. By contrast, the Maharam MiRutenberg held that the ma'amid is what is important and required tevila for such utensils. However, since there is a doubt if such is in fact the case, he did not require that a blessing be made on the tevila (as their existed the possibility of a bracha l'vatala - a blessing and use of God's name made for no purpose).

To what extent do we refer to something as being necessary for food to the extent that it requires tevila? The Mordechai states, in the name of Ra'avyah and others, that a pepper mill requires tevila as its inside, where the work is done, is metal. Similarly, Tosefta Keilim claims that whether or not a vessel requires tevila depends on the material of which its receptacle is made (ha-kol holeich achar ha-mekabel). However, the Darchei Moshe claims that the lower part of a mill that receives the ground-up material does not require tevila, as it is not a fundamental part of the workings of the utensil. The Taz says that a drill used to open barrels (perhaps comparable to a metal corkscrew) would not require tevila, as it is not fundamentally a utensil used directly for eating. Finally, the Aruch HaShulchan states that things such as oven racks do not require tevila as they are not carried around to serve the meal and thus are considered to be a part of the oven and not a kli se'udah.


When is a utensil considered to be the property of a non-Jew and when does it pass into being that of a Jew? Several cases deal with this issue. The first is a case of a non-Jew who gives a Jew a utensil as a collateral (mashkon). If the Jew wants to use the utensil while he has it, does he need to immerse it or not (whether or not such usage is allowed at all or if it constitutes an act of geneivat da'at - "stealing one's knowledge" - is dealt with by the various poskim; the issue is an interesting one but would take us too far afield)? The gemara presents a case of one person who did immerse a collateral taken from a non-Jew, but is unsure as to why he did so, and thus leaves the issue open. The underlying issue here is the fact that a Jew makes a valid acquisition on a collateral taken from a non-Jew, and thus perhaps this case is tantamount to a regular case of a Jew buying a vessel from a non-Jew. However, when does that acquisition occur? Perhaps it occurs from the moment that the Jew takes the collateral, but perhaps it does not take effect until it becomes clear that the non-Jew has no intention of taking his collateral back. Tosafot say that since the question remains, one should do tevila in such a case without making a bracha on the act. Rosh and others also say that no bracha is needed, although he offers a second possibility, advocated by a responsa of Rashi, that one should buy another vessel that certainly requires a bracha and immerse the two together, thus obviating the possibility of making a bracha l'vatala.

This issue raises the argument concerning Rambam that we raised earlier. Rambam himself has a lenient view of this matter, which Radvaz attributes to the fact that divrei soferim means that this law is only a Rabbinic one. Contrarily, Rashba (with whom the Bach agrees) says that tevila is certainly required in this case (the Tur says that nevertheless one should not make the bracha), and the Lechem Mishne explains that this is so because Rashba interprets divrei soferim to mean a law that was passed down through the generations all the way back to Moshe (halacha l'Moshe miSinai), and such a law has the status of a Torah-ordained law. The Hagahot Maimoniyot quotes Ra'avyah who says that in this case we can be lenient for two reasons. The first is that there is nothing forbidden in a new vessel - we do not have the problem of non-kosher food embedded in the walls of the vessel, rather we have a straight commandment to immerse all vessels bought from non-Jews. The second reason is that this commandment is not an absolute one (chiyuvit). No one has to buy vessels just so that he may fulfill the obligation of tevila. Rather, this commandment is on a level lower - one has no obligation to use the particular utensil in question, but may opt to use another utensil that has already been immersed (kiyumit).

The reverse gets much less mention. The Karnei Re'eym cites the gemara in Pesachim 31b that states that a non-Jew does not make an acquisition on a collateral taken from a Jew. Thus, a Jew does not have to immerse any vessels that he gave to a non-Jew as collateral once he takes the utensils back.

The next level is the case of a non-Jewish artisan who fixes or makes a utensil for a Jew. Rosh focuses this issue around the gemara in Bava Kama 99a, which discusses whether or not an artisan makes on acquisition on the increased value of the utensil that he brings about. According to the view that he does, tevila is required, while according to the view that he does not, no tevila is required, as the vessel here belongs to the Jew and because such a case is not comparable to the case of the vessels of Midyan. Even if a Jew merely gives a non-Jew materials with which to make a utensil, no tevila is required as it's owner is recognized as being the Jew. However, if the non-Jew used some of his own materials, tevila is needed Shach). Finally, if a Jew brings a broken vessel to a non-Jew, no tevila is required once it is fixed unless it had been broken beyond the point of use and thus the non-Jew effectively created in anew (Ritzba).

What about a case when the Jew is the artisan? If a Jew makes a vessel for a non-Jew using the materials of a non-Jew, do we say that no tevila is needed if a Jew then buys it, as it was made by a Jew, or do we say that tevila is needed since the materials belonged to the non-Jew and he is known as its owner? The Aruch HaShulchan says that in such a case we are left in doubt (due to the argument in Bava Kama 99a cited above), and thus tevila without a bracha is required.

The last level that we will deal with here is the case of a Jew and a non-Jew who buy a vessel as partners. The Aruch HaShulchan states that the Jew does not have to do tevila both because the situation is not similar to that of Midyan (where the Jews took the spoils outright), and because the vessel is still not leaving behind the state of impurity that it would be in while under the ownership of a non-Jew.


The final issue that we will deal with this week is the text of the blessing that is made on the tevila. The Hagahot Ashri cites the Or Zarua who claims that the proper blessing to be made is "al tevilat kli matechet" - on the immersion of metal vessels. The Mordechai offers three possible versions - "al hatevila" (on immersion), "al tevilat keilim" (on the immersion of vessels), and "al tevilat kli matechet." The Bach sides with the Or Zarua, reasoning that all blessings made on commandments (birchot ha-mitzva) specify exactly what the commandment is, and thus one would substitute the word glass for the word metal if immersing glass vessels, and so on. On this point the Taz asks why we also don't include the fact that the utensils are klei se'udah as that is also a requirement? He answers that it seems that we do not have to include every detail. He sharpens this by distinguishing it from Chanukah candles where we do specify that the candles are for Chanukah. In that case, the mitzva is the candle itself, and thus we specify what type of candles they are. Here, however, the mitzva is not in the utensil itself and thus so many details are not necessary. In light of that, he quotes a view cited by the Orchot Chaim that says that one need only say "lehatbil" - to immerse, with no mention at all of utensils. Finally, there is the view of the Aruch HaShulchan, who states that one need not be so exacting in the exact text of the blessing, although in general, and even with only one vessel, the custom is to say "al tevilat keilim."


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