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I understand that the sink, the dishwasher, and sponges, etc. all need to be kashered, presumably because they touch things (plates, utensils) that also touch food.

But how many degrees of separate objects/surfaces need to be kept kosher in such a way? For example, if I am using hot rocks to kasher my counter or dishwasher, do the rocks first need to be kashered? If not, why not?

Supposedly, tabletops and counters need to be kashered and/or covered. Do placemats? Trivets? Vases that sit on the table? If not, wouldn't they treyf up the table and thus the food?

Related: Knife sharpening - can it be done anywhere?

Does a kosher pot become non-kosher after you kasher utensils in it?

Transfer of taste to/from non-food items

  • From where did the understanding in your first paragraph derive? It seems inaccurate to me. – Double AA Aug 23 '15 at 6:11
  • @DoubleAA Pretty much based on my experience using kosher kitchens, in which I am always told which sponge is meat and which dairy, and the sinks have separate racks that must be used. This has been so far corroborated by what I've found online, though if I'm wrong, I'd love to know it! – SAH Aug 23 '15 at 16:58
  • @DoubleAA On second thought, though I've found online sources which instruct to kasher or cover the counters and tabletops (and I usually see separate table covers used for meals in frum homes), one kitchen I've been in didn't establish counter designations (although I guess there was the assumption that one would clean it after using it) – SAH Aug 23 '15 at 17:00
  • Which part of any of that suggests that the reason they need to be kashered is "because they touch things (plates, utensils) that also touch food"? – Double AA Aug 24 '15 at 1:08
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    @SAH (with all due respect) we do not err, we go by chazoko, I understand that the hazoko is that the goy used all the parts of his kitchen with not kosher food the may most of the time it is used, (so we do not need to do libun kal (torch it until 451f) on the sink (if it is kasherable) since the chazoko is that he did not used it as a pan) – hazoriz Aug 25 '15 at 16:41
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There isn't any real halakhic requirement to kasher items that are any degrees of separation from food. You only need to kasher items that are directly being used to cook food.

The only time we are required to apply the Koshering Process is on items that are normally used directly on the fire, or are in contact with hot foods that are directly on the fire. These are called Keli Rishon and Iruy Keli Rishon respectively.

Sinks, refrigerators, trash cans, counters, dishwashers, stovetops, tables, cutting boards, mixmasters, silver kiddush cups, and anything not used with hot foods from the fire do not need any koshering.

Silverware are typically kashered because on occasion one uses them in the cooking process, therefore it's easier to kasher them along with anything else. But nothing else "needs" to be kashered, or even covered since:

1) it's not being used in the cooking process

2) the temperature of its involvement is diminished to the point it can't absorb, or it can't transfer what it has absorbed back into any of your vessels

So there aren't any degrees of separation to worry about, one only needs to kasher the item directly involved with cooking food.

Source: http://kashrut.org/halacha/?law=kashering

  • Some require Kashering from Kli Sheni as well if possible (RAE to YD 105:2). Some require Kashering knives which cut Charif foods that had been previously cut with gendered knives (MA 451:31). (There are also varying opinions about piping hot food, particularly solids, in its original container but not directly on the fire anymore.) Note as well that even things which don't need a special "kashering" may indeed need to be thoroughly cleaned of any crumbs/residue. – Double AA May 6 '16 at 20:04
  • @DoubleAA RAE? What is that? – Aaron May 6 '16 at 20:06
  • A reference to [the commentary of] Rabbi Akiva Eiger. – Double AA May 6 '16 at 20:14
  • @Aaron Thanks for this answer. Are you saying one could use the silverware from a non-kosher restaurant to eat warm kosher food? – SAH Sep 18 '16 at 15:36
  • @SAH I believe the answer is yes because in general we consider vessels from non jews to be eino ben yomo which means that their flavor is older than a day and therefore disgusting. I am not giving you permission to do this. But i know if you are at a non Jews House you can use their cookware to prepare food for yourself based on eino ben yomo – Aaron Oct 30 '17 at 9:32
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I found a relevant comment here:

Some have the custom to kasher in a dedicated “kashering pot” which is not used for anything else, but most kasher in any pot which is clean and has not been used for 24 hours.

It seems, therefore, that there is not a legal stringency to keep items used in the kashering process kosher. This would answer the "hot rocks" part of my question above, and goes partway toward answering the general question of "degrees of separation."

Generally, I will add that last time I kashered my kitchen I asked the rabbi about my dining room table, and he said I didn't have to worry about it. He was aware it would be used uncovered. He certainly didn't mention the kashrus of placemats, trivets, or vases.

Finally, I am assuming the sink/dishwasher/sponges only need to be kashered because of the hot and wet conditions and, possibly, the potential for contact with davar charifs etc. This raises the question of why a dishwasher would need to be kashered, but not the items used for koshering, which I can't answer.

  • Dishwashers are used for items which have food on them, IME. – Double AA May 6 '16 at 17:21
  • @DoubleAA Do you think it comes down to the fact that items put in the kashering pot are clean and eino ben yomo? – SAH May 6 '16 at 17:29
  • That seems quite reasonable. – Double AA May 6 '16 at 17:29
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One --at least as far as bosor b'cholov is concerned. This page answers the question in its own terms:

[...] [The mixture] is 100% permissible to eat, for there was no direct contact between the meat and the cheese, only a weak secondary contact. This is known as Nat Bar Nat. In order for this hetter to occur, the meat and milk must be at least twice removed from each other: (Think of the branches on a family tree – Uncle Earl might be directly related to you, but that does not really make him related to Cousin Edna.)

[...] [I]t is not considered bassar b’chalav, since there are (at least) two degrees of separation in-between them. Please note that this leniency only applies to bassar b’chalav; it does not apply by bleeyos of issur or treif1.

The page goes on to discuss the halachos of nat bar nat and--to some extent--how they relate to issues of kashering in the kitchen. However, it neglects to discuss the roles that issur and treyf (and potentially other non-bosor b'cholov considerations) might play in this discussion, so its answer "one" is only provisional.

  • Do you want to summarize the linked page? I mean, technically the first sentence answers the question, but it would still be good to expand a bit. – Scimonster Sep 18 '16 at 15:42

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