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Ask the rabbi Halacha Immersing in the Mikve

Kashering a hot water machine

Rabbi David SperlingNisan 10, 5775
Question
Dear Rabbi I am thinking of buying a machine that heats up water and keeps it hot for Yom Tov, How do I tovel it if it has an electric cord, or things that might be ruined by immersing in water? Also, if most or all of it is plastic, should I still tovel it, and how? Thank you Rabbi for your kindness and help to me
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. An electric urn that keeps water hot all Shabbat and Yom Tov is a great enhancer to the Shabbat and Festivals – may your house be blessed with the true joy and holiness of those times! You are correct that a kettle, or urn, manufactured by a non-Jew needs to be immersed in a mikvah. This is only true if the urn is metal, or has a metal part that comes into contact with the water (which is the case in all the urns I have seen). [Although there are opinions that exempt a plastic urn if only the heating element is metal – Rav David Chai HaCohen]. That of course creates a problem with an electric appliance – how can they be immersed without ruining them? 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. Most Rabbis do not hold by this view. Another option is to in fact immerse the urn into the mikvah. You should then leave the urn to dry out for several days before use. [I would like to point out that although this opinion is sited by many Rabbis who claim that it will not harm the urn, I am not an electrician, and take no responsibility for this working!]. If the urn is metal it requires a blessing on tovelling. Another option is to take the urn to a (Jewish) electrician who can alter the urn 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. Some opinions hold that it is enough to remove the electrical plug and attach a new plug. If you (or any other Jew) does this, it is considered as having being an urn that was made by a Jew and as such exempt from needing to be toveled in a mikvah. A last option is to permanently give the urn to a non-Jew and then borrow it back to use it. As the urn 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. So, in summary, you see that there is a wide range of options. If the urn is plastic, with only a metal heating element, one can rely more readily on the lenient opinions that do not require tovelling electrical appliances (as above). If the urn is totally metal – it would be better, if possible, to use one of the other options listed above. Blessings.
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