It goes without saying that any adult Jew, male or female, can do tevila with the appropriate bracha. What is the law with regard to tevila done by a child? The Beit Yoseif cites the Terumat HaDeshen who says that a child (boy under the age of 13 and girl under 12) should not do so because he believes that the commandment of tevila is a law from the Torah and thus a child is not deemed trustworthy to carry it out (as by other commandments). However, if an adult is standing over the child to ensure that the tevila is done properly, then there is no problem. The Taz says that even according to the view that tevila requires specific intention to carry out the commandment (kavanah), which a child is not assumed to have, nevertheless the presence of an adult will solve this problem, as he will teach the child how to do the commandment and what he should be thinking while carrying it out.

On that note, we come to the question of whether or not tevila needs kavanah at all. This issue, taken up by the Bach, depends on a discussion in the gemara in Niddah 31a. The topic there concerns the tevila of a woman during her menstrual cycle and whether or not her tevila counts if she is forced into the water against her will. According to the view there that holds that her intent is irrelevant and we look only at the fact that she did, in fact, engage in an act of tevila and thus does not have to immerse herself again, we can say here that if utensils are dropped accidentally into water that would be valid for tevila that they do not require a second immersion. However, according to the view that the woman does have to do tevila again, such utensils would need another tevila, albeit without a bracha.

Finally, there is the responsa of Ramban, cited by many poskim, that states that a non-Jew may perform the act of tevila on behalf of a Jew, as he is deemed trustworthy to carry out the act properly.


We have dealt until now with the premise that only metal and glass utensils require tevila. Is this a complete list of all materials that require tevila? Furthermore, is it so clear what exactly is meant by metal and glass? The answers to both are obviously no (there would be no need to ask them otherwise), and this section will deal with these two issues.

In addition to metal and glass, our initial gemara on Avodah Zara 75b mentions a third material - "kunya," which is translated as glazed utensils (i.e. made out of pottery but covered with metal or glass). The gemara presents an argument as to whether we consider the utensil from its beginnings, which was pottery and thus free from the obligation of tevila, or if we look instead at the current state of the utensil, where it is covered by a material that does require tevila. The gemara itself opts for the second option, saying that tevila is required. Ran claims that this is true only if the utensil is covered both inside and outside. However, he states, if it is covered only on the outside then tevila is done but no bracha is made. The Mordechai cites a Rabbeinu Peretz who claims that in all cases glazed utensils require tevila without a bracha.

What about glass? Why is this even a question? As we noted, the verse in Numbers that serves as our source for all of these laws mentions only metals, but the Rabbis saw fit to include glass as it is similar to metal insofar as it can be repaired. However, the gemara in Shabbat 15b, in discussing the laws of vessels that can become ritually impure, states that glass vessels are likened to pottery vessels, as both come initially from sand, and thus it can become impure. Which analog is the correct one for glass - metal or pottery? What aspect of glass do we care about more? The Meiri on the gemara in Shabbat answers this seeming contradiction by stating that both models are correct. If so, what is going on? He claims that the gemara uses whichever model will result in a stricter law. Thus, glass is compared to pottery so as to make it susceptible to impurity, and it is compared to metal so as to require that it be immersed. This point is highlighted by the Orchot Chayim quoted by the Shach who claims that vessels covered with glass have the exact same laws as those covered with metal, without differentiating at all between the two. (This topic becomes much more complicated when the issue is glass utensils that have already been used. The model used will determine whether or not we view glass as porous or not and what type of kashering it needs. While this is not our topic, a fine overview of the issue is presented by Rabbi Howard Jachter in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Number 26, p. 77)

Even metal is not such a simple issue, a point brought to the fore by the case of aluminum. The GR"A states that only the six metals mentioned in Number 31 (gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead) require immersion, but not any other metal. Thus, aluminum would seemingly not require immersion. However, there are several reasons why aluminum utensils would need tevila. One possibility is that while six specific metals are mentioned in the verse, all metals are included. Further, many aluminum products actually contain alloys and thus it is likely that they contain one of the six metals and would require tevila even according to the GR"A. Finally, from a logical standpoint, if glass needs tevila because it is similar to metal in that it can be repaired, aluminum should certainly not be any worse.


An important element of tevila is that the object being immersed come into complete contact with the water. Any object or material which is stuck onto the object being immersed in such a way that water cannot reach part of the object is considered to be a chatzitza (barrier) and renders the entire tevila void. What is considered to be a chatzitza with regard to vessels?

The mishna is Mikva'ot 9:5 states that tar and myrrh are considered to be chatzitzot on glass utensils. Both Rash and Rambam comment on this by saying that the main issue is one of what people care about (b'hakpada talya milta). In other words, anything stuck to a vessel that a person would normally want to get rid of is considered to be a chatzitza. The Aruch HaShulchan notes on this that the law is strict in two directions. If there is something on the vessel that most people care about, then it is considered a chatzitza even if a particular individual does not care about its presence. Conversely, if a person cares about a particular object stuck onto his vessel, it is considered to be a chatzitza even if most people do not care about it. The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 120) claims that something that a person does not care about is only considered to be a chatzitza if it covers a majority of the vessel. The Beit Yoseif distinguishes between two types of chatzitzot. He rules that tar and the like that were on the utensil since they left the factory is not considered to be a chatzitza, although any such elements that adhered to the vessel once bought are considered as such and must be removed before tevila. The Shach adds in that sap or any other material used to plug up a hole in a utensil would not be considered to be a chatzitza so long as that material is firmly a part of the utensil.

With regard to rust, the Hagahot Ashri in the name of the Or Zarua claims that it must be removed before tevila and is otherwise considered to be a chatzitza. The Mordechai disagrees and states that if there is rust that will not come off, the utensil may nevertheless be immersed without worry that the rust is a chatzitza.

Handles of utensils also present a problem. If a handle is loose and thus not considered to be a part of the utensil it can potentially be a chatzitza if it is blocking the water from reaching any part of the utensil (a very strong likelihood). If a handle is very long and will soon be shorted, then tevila is needed only up to the point that will remain as part of the utensil, as we invoke the rule that anything that is intended to be cut off is as if it is already cut off (kol ha-omeid l'katzetz k'katzutz dami).

The key to all the laws of chatzitza is that every part of the utensil must be touched by water. Thus, things such as bottles, which have narrow openings, require great care to ensure that enough water enters them to touch every part. The Rokeiach points out that a bottle cannot simply be filled part way and then be moved around so that the water goes all over. As we pointed out last week, drawn water may not be used for tevila, and thus he advises that bottles and things similar to them should be held underwater until they are full and then raised from the water with the open side down so as to completely avoid any possible problem of having used drawn water. Also, one utensil may be within another during the tevila so long as it is possible that the water can move around both of them and touch every part. Finally, if one is holding the utensil in his hand, he must be sure to loosen his hand enough to allow the water to come into contact with the entire vessel.


Finally, I want to briefly touch on two specific issues that have developed over the past few decades. The first is the question of disposable utensils, such as aluminum cooking pans. The main reasons why such utensils would not require tevila is that due to their flimsy nature they are seen as a mere shell of the food and not as a real vessel. As such, Rav Moshe Feinstein states that even if they are used two or three times, they still do not require tevila.

A thornier issue is that of toaster ovens. Tevila is obviously a problem, as it requires getting the electrical elements wet, yet there seems to be no halachic reason to exempt toasters from this law. What is to be done? Rav Moshe Feinstein (Y.D. 1:67) rules that only the part that the food is placed on needs tevila, but the electrical part may remain out of the water. At a later date, he ruled that, in fact, a toaster is not considered to be a kli se'udah at all and thus does not require any tevila. Rav Menashe Klein argues on this, stating that since the verses in Numbers discuss both kashering and tevila, the two laws are compared to each other and anything that would require kashering requires tevila. As a toaster fits the first category, it should thus need tevila. Rav Moshe Stern presents a creative solution to the problem. He advises that a person who buys a toaster from a non-Jew should make a hole in the appliance or somehow damage it in such a way that it can only be repaired by a craftsman. If the craftsman who repairs it is Jewish then it is considered to have been made by a Jew and no tevila is required. Further, he cites the advice of electricians who claim that tevila presents no problems if the toaster goes unused for two days to allow for evaporation to occur completely.

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