Ask the Rov: Does a coffee grinder require tevila?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah
Utensils made from metal or glass that touch the food and are used for preparing, serving, or eating the food require tevila.
The Mechaber writes that a knife used for shechita or to skin an animal does not require tevila, because at that point the animal is not yet ready to be eaten; it still needs to be cooked.1 According to this, any utensils used with not-ready-to-eat food — e.g. coffee grinder, cookie cutter, kneading bowl, fish scale remover — would be exempt.
However, the Rama quotes a dissenting opinion and rules that it is preferable to toivel such utensils without a bracha.2 But then he adds that the instrument used to perforate holes in the matzah dough before baking does not require tevila.
Acharonim debate how to reconcile these two rulings. Some explain that if the utensil can be used for other things as well — such as a shechita knife, which can also be used to cut ready food — it is preferable to toivel it. The perforating instrument, on the other hand, isn’t used for other food purposes. The same would be the case for needles used to sew raw chicken with stuffing.3
Others hold that these are two different views quoted by the Rama, and his personal ruling is that all these utensils should be toiveled, including the perforating instrument.4 A third interpretation is that if the utensil serves a prominent purpose in food preparation, albeit a preliminary one, it should be toiveled.5
Contemporary poskim write that there is no decisive ruling in this regard. L’chatchila one should toivel all of them, yet in tricky situations, especially ones of need, one can rely on the lenient views.
Peelers used for vegetables that are eaten raw — e.g. cucumbers, tomatoes — require tevila with a bracha, yet those used for vegetables that need cooking — e.g. potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini — fall under the above debates and should be toiveled without a bracha. If a utensil is used for both purposes, we follow the majority of its usage.6
Utensils like meat thermometers come in contact with the food but don’t change the food in any way and aren’t directly involved in its preparation, thus some exempt them from tevila.7 Others hold they should be toiveled without a bracha.8
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From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash