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Beit Midrash

Chapter Ten-Part Four

Hagala in Practice

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12. Hagala in Practice
The hagala water must actually be boiling, and this is a sine qua non with regard to utensils that have absorbed ĥametz as a kli rishon on the fire. As we have learned, the practice, le-khatĥila, is to perform hagala on all utensils in a kli rishon over fire.
The entire utensil must be submerged in the water for a few seconds. 15 Sometimes the immersion of utensils cools the water to the point that it stops boiling. In this case, the utensils should be left in the water until it returns to a boil.
If a utensil cannot be immersed in its entirety into the water, it can be immersed one half at a time (SA 451:11).
Furthermore, when immersing two utensils into the boiling water at one time, one should shake the utensils to ensure that the boiling water circulates between them (based on SA 452:3-4).
Common practice, le-khatĥila, is to rinse the utensils with cold water after hagala, so that the hot water does not remain on them and cause them to reabsorb the taste released during hagala. This is not essential, however, since hagala is normally performed when the utensil is not ben yomo or in water that has a foul taste, so that even if the utensil reabsorbs the taste of the water, it will not be rendered un-kosher (SA 452:7; MB ad loc. 34). Therefore, one should not rinse utensils with cold water if this is liable to damage them. Likewise, if for some reason it is difficult to rinse a utensil with cold water, one need not make an effort to do so.
Though some people have reservations about performing hagala on their utensils, the procedure is actually quite simple. In brief: First, one cleans the utensil and waits twenty-four hours after it absorbed forbidden food. Next, one immerses the utensil in boiling water. If it is possible to take it out and rinse it immediately in cold water, this should be done, but if it is difficult, one may extinguish the fire under the pot of boiling water, wait for the pot to cool down somewhat, and then pour out the hot water, and rinse the utensil a bit in cold water. One may use any pot in the kitchen for hagala, provided that it has not been used for cooking in the previous twenty-four hours. 16
13.Koshering Pots via Hagala
We have seen that in order to kosher a pot used to cook ĥametz (barley soup, for instance), it must be immersed in boiling water. When the boiling water inundates the vessel on all sides, it extracts the taste of the ĥametz from it. Based on the principle of ke-bole’o kakh polto, it ought to be possible to kosher such a pot by simply boiling water in it, and the pot will expel the taste just as it absorbed it. However, during the course of the year some cooked foods certainly boiled over the sides of the pot, causing the absorption of taste along the pot’s rim. The taste would not be released by water boiled inside the pot. Thus, in order to kosher such a pot for Pesaĥ, it must be completely immersed in a large vat of boiling water.
If one cannot find a vat large enough for immersing the pot one wishes to kosher, the poskim suggest the following: fill the pot you wish to kosher with water and bring it to a boil. At the same time, heat a stone so that it becomes scorching hot. When the water boils, insert the scorching hot stone into the pot. This will cause a lot of water to spill over the sides of the pot, koshering its rim and its outer walls.
This method is effective where a vessel has absorbed ĥametz through overflow, but if a pot was inserted into another pot and absorbed taste, it has absorbed in a kli rishon, and hagala by the overflow method is not effective. Instead, it must be koshered through complete immersion in boiling water (SA 452:6; MB ad loc. 31).
It is difficult, however, to heat stones in this manner in domestic kitchens. Therefore, a possible alternative is to boil water in a small vessel, and when the water in the large vessel begins to boil, insert the small vessel into the center of the larger vessel. This will cause the water in the larger vessel to overflow and kosher its rim and outer walls.
If the pots have removable handles, it is proper to remove them and perform hagala on them. However, if the handles were not removed, and one cleaned around them with plenty of soap and then performed hagala on them, the pot is kosher.
Another problem is that many pots have a lip along the rim and on the edges of the cover where food sometimes gets stuck. The preferred practice is to heat these areas with a blowtorch in order to incinerate the residue found there. However, one need not be meticulous about this, because the pot goes through enough rinsing and cleaning with detergents to render the taste of any residual food foul and unfit for a dog’s consumption, so that it does not even have the status of ĥametz. Therefore, if a blowtorch is used, its flame should not be directed at one place for too long, because doing so might damage the pot’s nice appearance. When necessary, one who cannot perform light libun on this lip may suffice with hagala. 17
14.Absorption through Pickling ("Kvisha") and Its Koshering
Utensils into which cold ĥametz has been placed do not require hagala in boiling water; a thorough washing is sufficient to kosher them for Pesaĥ. For example, beer mugs become kosher for Pesaĥ by means of a thorough washing, even though beer is ĥametz gamur, because as long as the ĥametz in a utensil has not reached the temperature of yad soledet, the utensil does not absorb the taste of its contents. Certainly, then, a cake plate used for ĥametz can be koshered for Pesaĥ with a thorough washing, because in addition to the fact that cookies never reach yad soledet, they are dry, and taste does not transfer to a utensil without a liquid medium.
But if beer is left in a mug for more than twenty-four hours, kvisha ("pickling," or the absorption of taste through prolonged soaking) occurs, and the taste of the ĥametz gets absorbed into the glass based on the Sages’ rule: "kavush ke-mevushal" (pickling is akin to cooking). Therefore, it is forbidden to use such a utensil on Pesaĥ unless it has been koshered.
Utensils that have absorbed taste via kvisha can certainly be koshered through hagala in boiling water; if hagala is effective on utensils that absorbed via cooking, it certainly works on utensils that absorbed via kvisha. Moreover, since kvisha is a milder form of absorption, one may kosher such a utensil by soaking it in water for three twenty-four hour periods: First, one places the utensil in water and leaves it there for twenty-four hours. Second, the water is changed and the utensil is left there for another twenty-four hours. Then the water is changed once again, and the utensil soaks for a final twenty-four-hour period. Nevertheless, this method of koshering is generally not helpful because it is faster and easier to perform hagala with boiling water. But when dealing with utensils that are liable to be damaged by boiling water, soaking in water for three twenty-four-hour periods can be a very useful solution.
It is also worth mentioning that when it comes to alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, some poskim are of the opinion that the taste of the ĥametz is absorbed by the glass in a mere eighteen minutes. Thus, if one wishes to use such a glass on Pesaĥ, it must first be koshered using one of the aforementioned methods. 18




^ 15.. See SA 452:1 and MB ad loc. 4, which state that one should not leave the utensils in the water for too long, so that they do not reabsorb what they released. On the other hand, too short a time in the water will not give the utensils enough time to release. MB states that it is difficult to ascertain the precise amount of time that is neither too quick nor too long. However, it states: "If one performs hagala before the time that [ĥametz] becomes forbidden, there is no need to be so precise, and one may leave [the utensils] in the water longer," since at that point noten ta’am li-fgam is permitted and the ĥametz is batel be-shishim. See Kaf Ha-ĥayim 452:2 which states that some Rishonim maintain that one should leave the utensils in the water until they have released what they absorbed, while other Rishonim maintain that one should insert the utensils in the water and then remove them immediately. Common practice follows the latter opinion, and Pri Ĥadash states, regarding this practice, that Jewish custom has attained the status of law (see Sidur Pesaĥ Ke-hilkhato 7:17 and n. 67). The prevalent custom is to leave the utensils in the boiling water for about three seconds.
^ 16.. The custom of Ashkenazic communities and some Sephardic communities is to avoid using hagala to switch utensils from meat to dairy and vice versa, so that one does not forget which utensils are meat and which are dairy. However, if a utensil became non-kosher and one koshered it through hagala, he may use it for whatever he wants (if it was meat before, he may use it for dairy and vice versa). Similarly, Ĥatam Sofer §101 states that following the hagala for Pesaĥ, one may change the status of his utensils. One who receives a utensil as a gift may change its status through hagala (Darkhei Teshuva YD 121:59). One may also sell the utensil to a friend, reacquire it, and then change its status through hagala. (Pri Megadim [Eshel Avraham] 452:13, states that in extenuating circumstances one may change the status of his utensils through hagala.)
^ 17.. We once examined the lip of a pot, and the substance contained in it was black, ugly, and extremely foul-tasting. Therefore, even without libun it is not forbidden. Similarly, whatever builds up around the pot handles is exceedingly foul, so even if one did not remove the handles, the hagala is valid. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, one should rinse that area with a lot of soap. Regarding hagala on a large pot that does not fit inside an even larger pot, I have seen it suggested that one cause the water to overflow by pouring boiling water into it from an electric kettle that is still connected to a power source. My solution is better, though, since with the pouring method, the water cools down slightly, whereas in my method, the whole pot boils and becomes a kli rishon without cooling down at all.
Regarding milk and meat: Sometimes some liquid from a boiling dairy pot splashes onto a cold meat pot, and we consider the outer layer of the meat pot to have absorbed some dairy taste at the spot that was hit by the liquid. The way to kosher the meat pot is by pouring boiling water on it, and since we are dealing with a very small absorption, one need not even wait twenty-four hours, since it is possible to pour sixty times the amount absorbed on the spot. If one is concerned that there is not sixty times the absorbed amount, he may mix soap into the boiling water, which will befoul the absorbed taste. On the other hand, if the meat pot contained hot food when it was splashed by the dairy liquid, the pot needs to be koshered in boiling water. One should consult with a halakhic authority about the status of the food in the meat pot, since sometimes it is sufficient to have sixty times the amount of dairy liquid, while other times there needs to be 3,600 (sixty times sixty) times the amount of splashed liquid.
^ 18.. See Kaf Ha-ĥayim YD 105:1 on the dispute among the poskim regarding the degree to which, vis-à-vis prohibitions other than ĥametz, utensils absorb taste via the pickling process. Some poskim maintain that utensils absorb taste via pickling to the same degree that they do via cooking, while others maintain that pickling causes utensils to absorb taste only in their outermost layers. Kaf Ha-ĥayim concludes that one may rely on the lenient opinions to prevent a significant financial loss. For example, if one cooked in a pot that had previously contained prohibited liquids for a period of twenty-four hours, one may rely on the lenient opinions that permit the food, since the amount absorbed in the outermost layer of the pot is not sufficient to prohibit the food. On the other hand, when not dealing with a significant loss, one should be stringent, following the many authorities that consider the food forbidden. It is clear that one preferably should not use utensils that have had prohibited liquid in them for more than twenty-four hours. Regarding the pickling time for a sharp food, Darkhei Teshuva 105:42 states that there is a dispute: some say it takes ten minutes (Yad Yehuda) and others say eighteen minutes (Tiferet Yisrael). It is also uncertain whether these times apply to absorption into a utensil as well. Nishmat Adam 57:10 and Binat Adam §59 state that, according to Shakh, even the taste of a sharp food is only absorbed into a utensil after twenty-four hours, while according to MA the taste of sharp foods is absorbed more quickly. Preferably, one should be stringent. See Sidur Pesaĥ Ke-hilkhato 6:5.
Even though an earthenware utensil that absorbed ĥametz during the cooking process cannot be koshered through hagala, if such a utensil absorbed the taste through the pickling process, it can be koshered through hagala or through soaking for three days, as per SA 451:21. See also MB ad loc. 118 and Kaf Ha-ĥayim 242, which state in the name of Shakh YD 135:33 that the leniency of permitting one to kosher an earthenware vessel that absorbed forbidden taste via pickling applies only to ĥametz and not to other forbidden foods.



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