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Toveling electric mug


Rabbi David Sperling

Iyyar 4, 5772
My wife bought me a very useful present. It is a travel coffee mug with a steel interior that heats up. There’s a socket on the mug’s exterior from which you plug a cable that goes into the lighter socket of your car or computer. This connection keeps the coffee constantly heated. The instruction manuals notes in the Maintenance section: Do not immerse the mug in the water. How then can I tovel the mug and start using it? Since it’s double-insulated, the inside of the mug doesn’t show electrical equipment. It’s only the socket that seems at risk. Should I just cover the socket hole as best as I can and then do tevila? With a bracha? Do you have any recommendations for a valuable kli rishon that would damage after toveling? Thank you and shalom.
Shalom, Thank you, and your wife, for your question. In relation to tovelling electrical appliances. there are opinions that say they are exempt, because they are only used when plugged in, which connects them to the ground, and as such perhaps are not considered vessels requiring immersion in a mikvah. Apart from the fact that most Rabbis do not hold by this view, it certainly does not help in your case, as the mug is attached to a car or computer, which are not connected to the ground. So it does in fact need tovelling. You have several options. One is to first wet your hand in the mikvah until it is moist, then place it over the socket - not with too much pressure, but semi-loosely. Then quickly dip the vessel once. Because your hand is wet, it is not considered as a "hatzizah" (seperation) between the mikvah water and the mug. (This advise is found in the work Tevilat Kelim 11,51). You should then leave the mug to dry out for several days before use. [I would like to point out that I am not an electrician, and take no responsibility for this working!]. If the mug is metal it requires a blessing on tovelling. Another option is to take the mug to a (Jewish) electrician who can alter the mug in such a fashion that it needs a professional to return it to the status of a working vessel. Then by having him mend it - it then is considered as having been made by a Jew, and is exempt from tovelling. [Again, I take no responsibility for how your good wife might react to you getting electrical work carried out on your new gift from her!] A last option is to give the mug to a non-Jew and then borrow it back to use it. As the mug now belongs to a non-Jew it does not require tovelling, even when a Jew borrows it to use. This option is allowed, but frowned upon by many authorities. Blessings.
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