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I am trying to improve the kashrut level in my kitchen. The food itself has been kosher for years as best I know (ingredients, separation of meat and milk), but I didn't always know all the other things I needed to do to get this right. Specifically, tevila.

I have some new dishes now and I want to start off right with them. I've found this page that explains what does and doesn't require tevila, but my question is more basic: what exactly do I do? Do I just show up at the mikvah with my box of dishes? Am I supposed to make an appointment? I know that mikvaot for people are time-restricted; how does that interact with me and my dishes? Is there a customary donation or fee?

Assume I've never done this before: what do I need to know?

(In case you're wondering, knowing that my kashrut is deficient I do use disposable utensils when cooking for other Jews. But I'd prefer that my kashrut just not be deficient in the first place.)

  • star-k.org/cons-appr-tvilaskelim.htm – MTL Dec 28 '14 at 18:06
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    A phone call to the local Mikva would be the best way to clarify their hours. Some places do require appointments, some have regular hours, and some are open to the public 24/7 via a combination lock. – Double AA Dec 28 '14 at 18:08
  • At least the kelim mikvah near us in Chicago is open during the day, but closes around the time that women start coming for their personal tevila for reasons of tzniut. You just have to put in the combination that is written on the door in gematria. There is a box for optional donations. – Daniel Dec 28 '14 at 19:13
  • FYI - Tevila status does not impact kashrut of the food prepared on it. It's a whole different halakha that only affects the owner of the implements. – Charles Koppelman Dec 28 '14 at 19:37
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    MonicaCellio Note that even according to the stringent opinions in @CharlesKoppelman 's link, it is not a Kashrut concern but a "use the dishes" concern. Undipped dishes will never render food non-kosher such that it couldn't be transferred to a different dippied dish and then eaten. – Double AA Dec 28 '14 at 21:40
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In terms of the dipping itself:

You should make sure that the entire vessel, as it is intended to be used, is immersed. That means that if pieces are meant to come apart, you should separate them, and you should make sure that the water gets into everywhere that it needs to get. This sometimes involves turning things upside down to release air-bubble pockets.

Also, if you pick something up and hold it while you dip it, the spot where your fingers are creates an interruption between the water and the object. One option is to hold one hand below the object, and then drop it from one hand to the other, so it is in free-fall for an instant. An easier option is the advice of the Rema, to dip your hand in the mikvah water first, so that your hand is wet with mikvah water and the point of contact is not an interruption. You can also dip a basket into the water, and then drop things one by one into the basket.

If you have objects that require being dipped Biblically and others that require being dipped Rabbinically, you should dip a Biblically-required object first so that the blessing can be made on a Biblically-required dipping. (I'd have to search for a source for that, but that's what I recall being told.)

I recommend bringing some rags with you to dry things off with - mikvahs do not always have the cleanest water, and you probably don't want your car to smell like mikvah when you put everything back into it.

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Having lived in several places, i've been to my share of mikvaot.

The first thing to do is contact the rabbi or someone else to get some basic information, such as when it's open, and how to get in. Some charge, others don't. Many (most?) places have a separate mikvah keilim besides for the people-mikvah.

Once you've gotten in, it's simple enough. Bring your dishes. If you're tovelling something that needs a bracha, say the bracha (watch out for the difference between one and more items -- כלי vs כלים).
Dunk one thing at a time. Move your hand around so that the entire thing gets immersed.
Don't talk while you do this, unless it's necessary for the tvila.

Silverware is a little harder than plates and cups, because it's small. If you just dunk each one separately, it'll take a long time, and there's a risk of dropping it. My advice is to bring a mesh bag, put all the silverware in there, and dunk it. Shake the bag around so that water can get between each fork, etc.

Advice: Bring a towel to dry the stuff when you're done. Also, make sure to wash it before using it -- most mikvah water isn't too clean.
Not serious: wait until summer. The water is warmer them.

Also, you don't need a set mikvah -- just a kosher one. We use a river a block away, for free.

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    re your last point, many communities have "men's mikvaot" which don't live up to the necessary standards for a woman's mikvah even though they are kosher for men. The mikvah for tevilat kelim must be of the same mikvah standards as a women's mikvah – Daniel Dec 28 '14 at 19:11
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    In some communities (such as Baltimore) there will be a separate "keilim mikvah" that is available at all times. Similarly, I have seen stores in New York which have a mikvah for the keilim that they sell. Other communities will have a keilim mikvah to the side of the regular mikvah. Check your local mikvah. – sabbahillel Dec 28 '14 at 19:51
  • A mesh bag is a good idea. Many kelim mikvaos that I've been to have something like this at the mikvah for that purpose (and one or two have this as well) – MTL Jan 11 '15 at 13:17

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