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My wife and I iyH will be moving into an apartment that we purchased from non-Jews, and we spent a lot of time investigating different renovation options for the countertops (this type of stone, granite, etc). Then it occurred to us - why do they need to be kosher? Why not just leave the kitchen as is, replace the oven, sinks, and dishwasher, and use it exactly like we do now - we cut food on cutting boards, we never put anything hot directly on the counter (because that can crack the countertops)...am I missing something? Is there any reason to switch them?

The only things that I can think of that we would need to be careful from would be:

  • d'var charif coming into contact with the countertops
  • washing dishes with very hot water and creating some sort of "treif splash zone" at the edges of the sinks (not entirely sure how to do avoid that, lmaaseh...but how much "taam" do countertops really have? And anyways it would probably be batul with water and dishwashing soap...)

For us, this is a very big expense - probably in the range of 30-50k shekels, so we want to avoid it if we can. And don't worry, I will be speaking this out with a competent Rav... but it's always worth it to understand things before going in to speak to a Rav, I think.

Thanks for the help.

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  • I believe the only reason to have kosher countertops is if you put hot pots/pans etc. directly on the counter, and obviously if you put hot food directly on. If you never put it directly (always use a trivet or a towel or something) then I see no reason to kasher them. Some have the custom to kasher their countertops for Pesach even though they are covered. This is beyond the letter of the law, but obviously only possible to fulfill if the countertop is kasherable.
    – robev
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 19:44
  • @Shaul - perhaps make this a more generic question rather than a personal scenario as it may be closed as it comes across like you're seeking a personal psak
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 19:46
  • If you leave the countertops as is, and you drop a hot piece of food on it (for example you’re frying schnitzel and a piece drops on the counter) you’d have to throw it out
    – Menachem
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 21:35
  • Also, there are certain things that the rabbis will allow if they are temporary, but not if they are permanent. See for example yorah deah chapter 10, where you are not allowed to shecht with a two sided knife where one of the sides is a sawblade, because you might one time come to use the wrong blade.
    – Menachem
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 21:39
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    If the countertop is stone why don't you just kasher it with hagala with a hot stone. And for your sinks if they are metal you can kasher the same way. And the oven clean it out well and then run a self clean cycle. The dishwasher is more complicated to kasher though.
    – Efraym
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 1:35

2 Answers 2

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As you've said, you'll ask your Rav for a p'sak. The general halacha that I think would apply here is תתאה גבר - the bottom is stronger. So, if you put a hot pot on the unkosher surface, what happens? Given that the surface is cold, it's technically not going to do anything to the top because תתאה גבר, the bottom is what counts, not what's on top.

However, due to the principle of אַדְּמֵיקַר לֵיהּ — אִי אֶפְשָׁר דְּלָא בָּלַע פּוּרְתָּא - until it cools, it's not possible the bottom won't transfer a little taste to the pot (see Pesachim 76a) (see Rashi there). The gemara rules that therefore the pot would be assur k'dei k'lipa and would require hagala (see the Mordechai in Chullin perek Kol Habasar).

It seems the Mechaber and Rama rule like Rabbainu Tam (Tosefos ד"ה תניא - the Tur also brings this in the name of Rabbeinu Yonah) that this is just a chumra. Either way, it is quite a bedi'eved situation. For example, the discussion surrounding the klipa (in the case of meat and milk, not pots), is complicated. In that case, the Pri Megadim (Mishb'tzot Zahav 7) is machmir like the Taz (7), while the Pischei Tshuva (5) is meikel like the Magen Avraham for basar b'chalav, but not sha'ar issurim (unless it is a hefsed merubeh), and the Chachmat Adam (42:10) says even basar b'chalav only in a hefsed merubeh.

So sof kol sof, it's not very simple. Ask your Rav how you should hold by putting hot pots directly on the surface.

Davar Charif shouldn't be an issue as it needs some sort of pressure to draw out the bliot (See SH Yora Deah Siman 96)

Splash zone shouldn't be an issue as it is likely not-bar-not d'heteira, if it even is an issue in the first place. See SH Yora Deah 95:3-7.

As per the rules of the site and common sense, I am not paskening. Just providing you with sources you can look up to prepare your "visit to the Rav". Hatzlacha.

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  • He says he never puts hot pots directly on the surface.
    – robev
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 20:25
  • @robev I'd imagine some Ravs wouldn't let him rely on that, or at least give further advice.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 20:27
  • Some yes, some no. He's going to ask anyways, yet if he never does then there shouldn't be an issue of ta'ta gavar
    – robev
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 20:28
  • Ok, shkoyach. I hope the answer is still of some use
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 20:30
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See the שו״ע יו״ד סימן צא ס׳ ב where this whole topic of making use of a treif kli (countertop) is discussed. There is a Machlokes in the shach and Taz there. Without getting into too much detail, The Shach seems to rule that one could put a dry hot food or a cold wet food on a treif kli. This would seem to indicate that one could use a treif countertop so long as he is careful to never allow anything to touch that could absorb from the countertop (namely hot wet food). However he ends with a caveat: מיהו כל זה בדרך עראי אבל אם בא להשתמש בהן דרך קבע אפילו צונן אסור גזירה שמא ישתמש בהן חמין. “All that he said above was only for temporary use, but to use it on a consistent basis would be forbidden as a decree that he may come to use the kli in a forbidden fashion.”

I would think that this would apply here. If you were renting an Airbnb, perhaps you could use the countertops in the manner you suggest, being very careful. However, to consistently do that in your own home would likely fall under this gzeira.

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  • Thank you for your feedback with this. How could countertops be compared to a kli in the seif you are referencing? We are not actually putting any food on the countertops. At most, the pots and keilim that the food are in will be touching the countertops (and even those will only be touching when they are not hot). It's not at all like putting treif food on a plate or in a bowl - it's an entire degree removed from that,seemingly.
    – Shaul
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 20:35
  • I think people do often put food down directly on the countertop. I agree that the logic is not quite as compelling, however it would seem that consistently using treif countertops does lend oneself to messing up.
    – ASL
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 2:16

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