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Elul 21, 5775

Parve can opener and hot milk


Rabbi David Sperling

Question:
Hello,

We have a parve can opener which I recently used it to open a hot can of condensed milk. I was hoping that no milk would actually get on the can opener and it would not become dairy, but after I used it to open the can, I realized that there was milk residue on it. I washed if off with cold water and some soap. However, the can was hot while I was opening it - too hot for me to hold. I am not sure how hot the actual milk was. Now I am wondering if the can opener became dairy and, if so, how can I kasher it back to being parve since this was a rare situation and we want to continue to use it just for parve cans.

Thank you very much for your answer!

Answer:
Shalom,
Thank you for your question. It is quite possible that your can opener is now dairy, as the can was hot, and you attest to the fact that some milk did in fact get on it. (Although it is not completely certain that it is now dairy, due to a number of factors to do with whether the can opener actually went into the milk, or the milk splashed on it, and the heat of the milk, etc). Even if it is now "milky", as you have cleaned it, even if it would be used to open a cold can of meat, it would not transfer any taste.
In any case, it would be correct to kosher it, which is quite a simple thing. All you need to do is immerse it in water that is boiling hard (and leave it in the water until the water returns to a hard boil generally just a few moments).
The issue you refer to of koshering something in order to change its status is by no means accepted by all opinions. There are Rabbinic sources that allow such koshering with no restrictions at all. Even those opinions that advise against koshering a kosher utensil in order to change it from milk to meat or parve etc, would agree that where a mistake was made, and one needs a parve can opener, it would be permissible.
So, in your case, you should kosher the can opener in boiling water and thereby return it to its parve status.

Blessings.


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