Shabbat Parashat Beshalah| 5767
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Question: I did tevillat keilim for a metal pot with plastic handles. I later noticed a sticker on a handle. Do I have to tovel the pot again?
Answer: The relevant rule of chatzitza (an obstruction between the object or person being immersed and the mikveh’s water) is as follows. If the chatzitza is something that people normally remove, it disqualifies the tevilla rabbinically even if it covers only a minority of the object (Nidda 67b). In all likelihood, the sticker in question fits into that category. However, your question is complicated as we will partially explain.
There are two reasons to suggest that the handle does not need to be tovelled. First, a plastic kli (utensil) does not require tevilla. Additionally, the handle does not come in contact with the food, and only a kli se’uda (a utensil used in connection with a meal- see Avoda Zara 75b) requires tevilla. On the latter point, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 120:12) rules that handles need to be immersed. However, there are different ways to explain this halacha, which can cause different conclusions regarding your question.
One possible explanation is that a kli’s handle is a distinct, albeit connected kli,which needs tevilla.Although it does not come in contact with food, it is attached to and complements a kli that touches food and thus is considered a kli se’udah. If this is the reason, then the plastic handle does not need tevilla, and the chatzitza is not a problem.
A second possibility is that a handle is a secondary part of the kli. Just as one must tovel a kli that is part metal and part plastic in its entirety, so must he tovel the kli’s handle. Therefore, a chatzitza would be a problem on the handle as anywhere else.
A third possibility assumes that the handle itself does not require tevilla. However, if one let it stick out of the mikveh, we would say that the kli was not totally surrounded by water. However, if the handle is immersed, even with a chatzitza, it is encompassed by water. Regarding the chatzitza, realize that the main part of the kli is unaffected by the chatzitza. After all, the water touches the entire surface except the place where the handle is connected to it. (The fact that the handle itself is not a chatzitza even if it is made out of a material that requires tevilla is almost unanimously agreed upon; its rationale is beyond is beyond our present scope.) According to this approach, the sticker would not raise a problem.
On this third point, there may be a machloket among recent poskim. There are appliances that hold and heat up a food or liquid, where the heating element is housed separately from the part that holds the food but is connected to it. Rav Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, YD I, 57-8) rules that one need immerse the appliance only up to the point that the receptacle reaches and can leave the electrical section protruding from the water. Minchat Yitzchak II, 72 argues, saying that this is not considered immersing the kli. Rav Feinstein apparently cannot accept the third possibility, for if the handle were considered a separate appendage, the Shulchan Aruch would not have required tevilla. The Minchat Yitzchak can accept the third approach (whether he does is beyond our scope).
The Darkei Teshuva (120:96) addresses your case explicitly and requires removing the chatzitza before tevilla. Several present-day works accept that opinion (Chelkat Binyamin 120:109; Hechsher Kelim (Edre’i) 7:2; Tevillat Keilim (Cohen) 5:5), and we found no one who argues. This is apparently in line with the second approach that the handle is like any other part of the kli. In truth, the Beit Yosef’s (YD 120) explanation for the need to tovel handles seems to concur. Although he does not discuss the case of a plastic handle, it is likely that he would agree with the Darkei Teshuva. Thus, although one could make the argument that a chatzitza on a plastic handle is not a problem, the consensus is that another tevilla after removing the sticker is needed.
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