Dates, Yeshiva Dinners, and Weddings

By BJLIfe/Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Posted on 12/28/17

From a historical perspective, it is unclear how the custom has developed.  But for some reason, first dates in the frum world usually involve taking the girl out to a lounge and ordering water or a soda.  And there – the problem often happens.

But it could also happen at a Yeshiva dinner with an unimpeachable hechsher.  The shechita is top of the line.  The salads have been checked for bugs by a top mashgiach and have even been double checked using the famed “shmata” method.  Nonetheless, the prohibition has been violated.

It could happen at a wedding as well.  The problem is that people are often unaware of the underlying issue or the halacha.  Or they erroneously assume that since we are talking about glass and cold drinks – there is no kashrus issue.


The Torah (BaMidbar 31:23) tells us of the obligation of immersing metal utensils whose origin was of non-Jewish ownership or manufacture.  The vessels must be immersed in a Mikvah, sea, lake or river.  The Mitzvah is called Tvilas Keilim.  The Mitzvah is discussed in a Mishna in the tractate of AVodah Zarah (page 75b).  Kosher restaurants and Jewish homes all ensure that their vessels are properly immersed.


In regard to the lounges and catering halls, very often, the lounge or the catering hall is owned by someone who is Jewish.  According to most Poskim, the glasses that his establishment owns are required to be immersed.  Some of the lounges that many dates frequent are, in fact, Jewish owned.  The glassware there is generallynot tovelled.  The same is true with catering halls.  This is both a local problem as well as a nationwide one.  It is even a problem in Israel as well.

It is also a fact that lounges and catering halls are constantly reordering their glassware.  If, at one particular dinner or wedding it was arranged to Tovel the dishes, this will not help remedy the situation, because there are so many glasses that are constantly being purchased.

Are there leniencies?  There are, but most Poskim are ruled stringently on the matter, and until some sort of reliable system is worked out – it remains a problem.


There is a question as to whether the requirement, in general, to immerse dishes is Biblical or Rabbinic.  The issue is whether or not the verses quoted in the Talmud are to be understood literally or whether they constitute something called an Asmachta – a Biblical allusion to a future Rabbinic enactment. 

Some Rishonim (such as the Rambam) understand it as a Rabbinic requirement.  Others (the Ritvah) believe that when the Gemorah utilizes the phrase “and we need this verse, because otherwise we might have thought etc..” it cannot be an Asmachta.  The Shulchan Aruch in Yore Deah (120:9 and 14) implies that it is Biblical while in Orech Chaim  (323:7) the implication is that it is Rabbinic.  The Biur Halacha explores the possibility of the author of the Shulchan Aruch having changed his mind and subsequently being of the opinion that it is biblically forbidden.  The practical halachic difference as to whether it is biblical or Rabbinic is when a doubt arises.  Also, in a situation where a child was the one who dipped the vessel – he is believed if the obligation is only Rabbinical but not on one where the obligation is from the Torah.


The Ramah (YD 120:8)  writes that it is forbidden to use a vessel that was not immersed even once.  The Chazon Ish (Teshuvos v’Hanhagos Vol. I 356) also forbids it.  It is also clear from Rav Moshe Feinstein’s responsa (Igros Moshe YD Vol. III #22) that it is forbidden to use such vessels.  Rav Feinstein writes, however, that if the food item is a solid and can technically be eaten even without the plate or bowl – then it would be permitted.  It is reported that Rav Elyashiv (Kuntrus Tvilas Keilim) was of the same view as Rav Feinstein in this matter.


Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Minchas Shlomo Vol. II #68) cites a Shach (YD 120:24) from which he derives that it would be permitted, when faced with no other choice, to use the untovelled vessels.  Dayan Weiss (Minchas Yitzchok Vol. I #44) also is lenient.

Even, according to these views, however, it is unclear whether it is still permitted if plastic cups are available.  In other words, it could be that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s proof from the Shach is only applicable when there is no other choice, but if it can be poured into a plastic cup at the outset – it could be that the leniency does not apply.


There is another leniency that is cited by the Munkatcher Rebbe in his Darchei Teshuvah (YD 120:13, 70).  He writes that it is possible that these vessels, which are not used by the owner himself, are to be considered part of his “business tools” and would not require immersion. 

Most Poskim, however, have rejected this leniency.

And while we are on the subject of immersing dishes, people should remember the following two important points:

All stickers should be removed from what is being immersed.  This is true of rust as well (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 37:10). 

The entire vessel should be immersed simultaneously.

If the vessel also needs to be koshered, the Shulchan Aruch rules that the koshering should happen first and then the immersion (See Shulchan Aruch 121:2).

The reader should also note that the 5TJT has contacted some of the local Kashrus authorities with suggestions as to how this halachic problem can be remedied. Essentially it involves getting glasses with a different color rim and locking these glasses away with the kosher dishes.  Hopefully, this issue can be resolved before the next few Yeshiva dinners and weddings.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com