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IMMERSING TO BRING IT HIGHER

Just as a convert emerges from the waters of the mikveh as a new person, so too our vessels are transformed through their immersion. * On Rambam's Laws of Forbidden Foods 17:5.

by Bing AI

The Jewish table is likened to an altar, its holiness compared to that of he Holy Temple. Before dishes and utensils can be used in the kosher kitchen, they must acquire an additional measure of holiness which is conferred through the ritual immersion in a pool of naturally gathered water, or mikveh.


The Rambam writes in his Mishneh Torah, Ma'achalot Assurot - Chapter 17: "When a person purchases metal or glass dinnerware from a gentile, utensils that [the gentile] did not use at all should be immersed in the waters of a mikveh. Afterwards, it is permitted to eat and drink with them." This immersion is not associated with ritual purity and impurity, but rather it is a Rabbinic decree. There is an allusion to this in Numbers 31:23 that describes Moses' instructions with regard to the spoils taken from Midian: "Everything that can be passed through fire, you shall pass through fire and it will become pure." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that the verse is speaking only about purifying the utensils from gentile cooking, not from ritual impurity.


A mikveh is a specially constructed ritual pool connected to a source of pure rainwater. Vessels may also be immersed in certain natural bodies of water such as the ocean. The procedure is known as tevilah, or toveling (derived from the Hebrew tovel, to immerse).


The act of immersing our utensils in a mikveh serves as a reminder that everything we do, even something as mundane as eating and drinking, can be elevated and imbued with holiness. By taking this extra step to ensure that our utensils are fit for use in a kosher kitchen, we demonstrate our commitment to following the laws of kashrut and our desire to infuse every aspect of our lives with sanctity. This small act can serve as a powerful reminder of our connection to Hashem and our dedication to serving Him in all that we do.


The Talmud states in Tractate Yevamot 47b: "Just as one's converts are not deemed converts until they have immersed themselves in the mikveh, so too one's vessels are not deemed vessels until they have been immersed in the mikveh." This comparison between converts and vessels highlights the transformative power of immersion in a mikveh. Just as a convert emerges from the waters of the mikveh as a new person, so too our vessels are transformed through their immersion.

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