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Hagala Rules and Restrictions
by Rabbi Dovid Bendory, II Adar 5765 (April 2005)
Previously, we learned how to use hagala to
kasher a kitchen utensil, even for a large
utensil that is too big to immerse. What are the rules and guidelines to
follow when doing hagala?
The same hagala procedure can be followed whether the utensil needs
to be koshered due to an accidental mixture of milk and meat, treif
(non-kosher) or issur (forbidden foods), or chametz (leavened
bread product) prior to Pesach (Passover).
The custom is not to kosher dairy kitchen vessels for meat use or vice
versa, in order to avoid confusion. However, one may kasher a vessel (kli) to render it pareve. For example,
one may change a meat knife into a pareve knife and use it to cut food that
will be used with dairy.
Any material that will be able to withstand the heat of the hagala
procedure, may be kashered using hagala.
If the kli cannot withstand these
processes — perhaps it is made of plastic and would melt, or perhaps
it is glass and would break — it cannot be kashered by hagala
and may not be kasherable at all. Consult with your rabbi in such a case.
No kli made from earthenware (cheres) can be kashered.
Earthenware includes what we commonly call "China" or "Stoneware." It
certainly includes anything made of pottery or clay.
Plastic may be kashered by hagala according to some poskim
(arbiteurs of Jewish Law) if it can withstand the temperatures involved.
Others disagree. If a kli has plastic handles that cannot withstand
hagala, the handles must be removed. If they can withstand the heat
of hagala, the kli may be kashered in a case where the primary
use of the kli is the main part of it and not the handles. This is
commonly the case with a metal knife with plastic handles or a metal pot
with plastic handles. Many modern pots have plastic handles that can
tolerate hagala and need not be removed. Such pots can be kashered
with their handles still attached provided that there are no cracks or
spaces between the pot and the handle. Food could be stuck inside such a
crack and it must be removed before kashering.
Questions to ponder:
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