Ask the Rov: Must I toivel electric toaster or similar appliance before use?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah
Many electric food appliances fit the criteria to be obligated in tevila. While some poskim consider them “attached to the ground” via the plug and therefore exempt (like a faucet),1 the mainstream view is that since they are easily detached they aren’t considered attached to the ground.2
Though many appliances have warnings against immersion in water, typically no harm is done if it is dried with a blow dryer and left to thoroughly dry for a few days after the tevila. One may wet his hand in the mikva and then during the tevila, cover the holes where water could enter the electrical part. One need not immerse the entire plug wire; only the small portion that exits the utensil.3
When a pot is too large to be toiveled, Halacha permits its use by puncturing it, removing its status as a “utensil,” and then having a Jewish craftsman patch the hole, rendering it a “Jewish-made” utensil.4
Based on this, some suggest that if a Jewish technician disassembles part of the appliance and then reassembles it, it is considered to have been made by a Jew and does not require tevila.5 Some hold that taking apart the electronic infrastructure is sufficient (merely taking apart the plug and reattaching it does not suffice), while others require a hole in the actual utensil (which is more challenging). Others question the whole idea and argue that the Jew isn’t considered to have made it.6
Another solution brought in halacha for cases when tevila is temporarily not possible (e.g. on Shabbos, when tevila isn’t permitted) is to gift the utensil to a non-Jew and borrow it back. 7 Some hold this idea only works on a short-term basis (up to 30 days), or otherwise it appears like it is owned by the Jew.8 The Alter Rebbe mentions that even if this was done for Shabbos only, one should toivel it after Shabbos without a bracha (if one does not take ownership of it).9 Some suggest renting it annually from the non-Jew to keep this agreement relevant and known.10
A similar solution suggested by poskim is to have in mind at the initial purchase not to “acquire” the utensil, so that it should be considered to still be owned halachically by the seller.11
In practice, when one cannot toivel an electric appliance, one may rely on one of the latter heterim (i.e. gifting to non-Jew or having a Jew reassemble it), in combination with the minority view that plug-in utensils are exempt to begin with.
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From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash