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When one buys new dishes from a store (e.g. cutlery, plates, bowls), is there any concern that they are not as "new" as they are claimed to be?

For example, someone buys some cutlery and plates, cooks some bacon and subsequently uses the cutlery and plates to eat that piping-hot bacon. Then he decides he doesn't like the cutlery and plates, cleans them really well, repackages them so they look unused and returns them to the store. The store judges that the plates are in "brand new" condition and restocks them as new items, with no indication of being "open box". If a Jew subsequently purchases those plates or that cutlery, why should he not have to kasher it?

Some possibilities:

  1. Stores never actually do this, or at least reputable stores. Once it's sold and returned, it's immediately "open box" and never resold without this being indicated to the next buyer. (I don't know enough about the retail industry to know if this is the case).
  2. There's some sort of rarity thing going on here since the scenario is very unlikely.
  3. Everybody actually does kasher all the new dishes they buy and no one ever bothered telling me. (Seems unlikely as some things are less kasherable than others -- see opinions about Kahering china).

(Related to Hagala for a new pot, however different in that the concern there is the manufacturing process for metal cooking dishes, whereas this question is about when "new" might mean "just barely used".)

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Personally I check the dish. For example: I make sure it has a sticker (if the others do), I look for dust, I try to take one from the back, I check if the box is worn, etc. –  Ariel Nov 4 '12 at 21:19

3 Answers 3

We have a concept of "Rov" ("majority"), which means that we rely on the majority in many instances. In the case of dishes in a store, the majority of the time, if the dishes are being sold as "new", they are, in fact, new. In fact, many manufacturers, especially higher-end ones, place stickers directly on the dish, bowl, cup, etc., even if they are sold in boxes. The reason for this, I believe (no source here, however), is to assure buyers that they are, in fact, receiving new and genuine merchandise, since they are paying for the brand's quality and reputation.

See here for an interesting application of "Rov".

As you can see from the link above, the concept of "Rov" applies even to Torah-based prohibitions. Some people are not aware, but the concept of "Treif" dishes that are not "Ben Yomo" (used within the last 24 hours) is of rabbinic origin. See this answer for a little information on "Ta'am LiFgam" (bad residual taste).

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Moreover, since the dishes are clean and not ben yomo it would usually only be a rabbinic doubt to use them. –  Double AA Nov 2 '12 at 15:15
    
@DoubleAA, Dude! You beat me! I was looking for a (digital) source before I added that. Best one I could find so far. –  Seth J Nov 2 '12 at 15:15
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Good point about the stickers on high-end products. Now I'm also slightly less annoyed at those impossible to remove stickers. –  Ariel Allon Nov 2 '12 at 15:17
    
@ArielAllon, I hate them. Big pain for Toveling. But, they do serve a purpose. –  Seth J Nov 2 '12 at 15:18
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why don't we say it's a davar shebeminyan? –  Shmuel Brin Nov 2 '12 at 16:50

This question is discussed in the Shulchan Aruch in YD 122:11-12. The Rema writes that the general practice is to buy utensils from non-Jews when the seller is selling a lot and the buyer is purchasing one of many items being sold. Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan writes that it is clear that even if some would be stringent in regard to items purchased from a private individual, everyone would agree that one need not be concerned about items purchased from a merchant.

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+1 The Aruch HaShuchan says that? Doesn't the Rama say it first? –  Double AA Nov 3 '12 at 23:24
    
You are right. Will edit. –  Dov F Nov 3 '12 at 23:36

I would assume that it's sufficiently unlikely that we need not worry about it.

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Some source or even a logical basis for this assumption would go a long way towards making this a valuable answer. –  Seth J Nov 2 '12 at 14:49

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