By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan
What is the halacha regarding immersing electronic appliances that come in direct contact with food, such as a kettle, toaster, George Forman grill, etc? Must one immerse them?
The Torah requires all food utensils bought from non-Jews to be immersed in a proper mikvah prior to use. Devices which do not come in direct contact with the food (i.e. a hotplate, or the bottom part of a two piece Crockpot) need not be immersed.
Concerning an electric device which comes in direct contact with the food, we find a dispute amongst the halachic decisors. Some say that since the device is used while attached to the outlet in the wall, it acquires the status of a mechubar lekarka (“attached to the ground”) and therefore not susceptible to become impure and does not need to be immersed.
However the vast majority of halachic decisors do not accept this leniency and require immersion notwithstanding the concern of damage to the device, since:
The assumption that a utensil not susceptible to impurity is exempt regarding vessels is not agreed upon by all halachic decisors.
Not necessarily does a plug constitute a sufficient affixation to be considered mechubar lekarka (“attached to the ground“).
Normative practice follows the stringent view. In addition, even the lenient opinions require tevilah for those utensils that can be used for food without connection to electricity (i.e. an electric kettle), unlike a one-piece hand blender that serves no purpose without electricity.
Poskim are divided whether it is sufficient to immerse the non-electric side or is it considered one utensil requiring the entire device to be immersed.
In order to protect the device from damage one can wet one’s hand and hold it over the electric part while toiveling it (alternatively, one can place a wet cloth over the opening). After immersion an electronic device it should be left to dry for a few days before use.
When immersion is impossible, one can take the device to a Jewish electrician who can dismantle the device to the extent that it would require a professional to repair and then have him rebuild it. Then it is considered as if the Jewish electrician constructed the device and it does not require tevilah.
ראה שו”ת אג”מ יו”ד ח”א סי’ נז -נח, ח”ג כד, מנח”י ח”ב עב, ח”ג עז, ח”ה קכו-ב, ח”ח ע-ב בסופו, ח”ט פג, קז, באר משה ח”ד ק, ח”ז ב, חלק”י יו”ד מא, מג, שבט הלוי ח”ב נז, משנה הלכות ח”ט קסב, קסו.
Reprinted with permission from Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com