Food Laws: Utensils
There is no such thing in Torah law as Kosher, or Kasher.
Vessels and utensils, such as plates, pots and pans are tahor or tame'
[loosely translated "pure" or "impure"], and as such may transmit
tum'ah ["impurity"] if they become tame' and are not properly treated.
of objects is not limited to those items used for the preparation of food,
however. The status of tahor or tame' may be imparted to any object.
A classic example of this is a couch that a woman in her period or a man
with a discharge sits on. Anything, in fact, that she/he sits on will
A given object may
become tame' in any one of the following ways: 1) It comes in contact
with an tame' substance - for example the carcass of a tame'
and, by implication a piece of a carcass of a tame' animal (in other
words, by saying the carcass of an tame' animal the Torah is not limiting
the ability to transmit tumah to a whole carcass alone - a slice
of ham is just as damaging as a dead pig), 2) It is touched by a metame'
person, 3) It comes in contact with a dead person, 4) It is in the same
room with a person who dies.
Given the different
ways in which an item may become tame', there are different ways in
which that item is to be cleansed. If an object (anything from a strip
of leather to a pot) comes in contact with the carcass of an tame'
animal it must be thoroughly cleansed to insure that no remnants of the
animal remain on the item, then it must be washed in water. It must
remain unused until evening - then it becomes tahor. If the item in question
became tame' in the evening, it must remain tame' until the following
This does not apply to earthen vessels, pottery or earthen stoves.
Any such article that is porous and can absorb liquids, in the manner
of an earthen vessel, must be smashed (this would include sponges that
should be burned or thrown away); and, its contents must be disposed of.
As for planting-seed or food - if it is dry, then it remains tahor. If
the tame' animal touches it and the planting-seed or food is wet,
then it is tame'. It must be disposed of (Wayyiqra' 11.32-38). For an
object that has become tame' through a person who is metame'
touched it: if it is an earthen vessel, or any item like an earthen vessel,
it must be broken; and if it is any other item, it must be cleansed with
water (Wayyiqra' 15.12). If a vessel is in the same room with a person who
dies, it must be cleansed with the ashes of the red heifer (Bemidbar 19.14-18).
If an object is a spoil from war, it must both be cleansed by the waters
of the red heifer and passed through fire - or, if it will be consumed
or ruined by the fire, it must be cleansed by water (Bemidbar 31.19).
||Method of Purification
||Time to Purify
||Washing in water (may need sanding to remove remnants of tum'ah)
||Washing in running water
||Water and potentially fire (if it can withstand fire).
||Water and fire (if it can withstand fire).
||Must be destroyed.
||Water (if it has absorbed traces of the tame' substance it
cannot be purified - this is most common with soft plastic - look for
*All vessels used
for cooking and all implements used for eating must be thoroughly cleansed
of hames, se'or and mahmeset for Hagh HaMassot. Any earthen vessel that cannot be appropriately cleansed
for Hagh HaMassot must be broken - such as an earthen vessel, or any object like
an earthen vessel. This may be a case where an item could be considered tame'; however, it is more correct to term it forbidden (as
hames, se'or and mahmeset
is not tame' merely forbidden during Hagh HaMassot).