One may not use Chametz vessels on Pesach since vessels which have been used to cook in or have had hot Chametz placed in them have Chametz flavor absorbed in them. Thus, just as we separate between meat and dairy utensils all year long, we must likewise separate between the utensils we use all year long and our Pesach dishes.
Since the laws of koshering vessels for Pesach are difficult both from a halachic and a practical perspective, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l has arranged these laws for us in a clear and concise manner in his lectures as well as in his works.
Nowadays, when we live in a time where there is much abundance in the world, thank G-d, most people have a special set of Pesach dishes such that they do not actually have to kosher their dishes for Pesach, besides for the countertops, oven, stovetop, and the like which everyone must kosher. We shall begin this discussion by explaining the essence of the koshering process and we shall then focus on some pertinent details of these laws.
It Releases Just as it Absorbs
A vessel is koshered in the same manner in which it is generally used, for we have a rule, “The same way it absorbs is the same way it releases.” Therefore, any vessel which is used for cooking, such as a pot, the method of koshering it is the same way it is used, i.e. a process called “Hag’ala” which is immersing it in a pot of boiling water. The boiling water must be in “Keli Rishon” (meaning that the vessel must be immersed into boiling water which is in the original vessel where the water was boiled and is still on the flame; however, one should not perform Hag’ala in a vessel which the water was not originally boiled in and was merely poured into from the original vessel which was on the fire, for this vessel is not considered a “Keli Rishon” and is merely a “Keli Sheni.” The water in a “Keli Sheni” is not considered boiling enough to cause the vessel immersed into it to release its Chametz flavor).
Thus, knives, spoons, and the like can be koshered by immersing them into water boiled in a pot on the flame or an electric kettle by first immersing one end of the knife followed by the other end. (If the handle of the knife is made of wood, it cannot be koshered through Hag’ala.)
Before performing Hag’ala, one must clean the vessel thoroughly and make sure no residue or rust remains. It is especially preferable not to use a vessel with hot Chametz (or meat or dairy throughout the year) within twenty-four hours before Hag’ala is performed.
Wooden vessels retain the same law as metal and they can be koshered by performing Hag’ala in a pot of boiling water on the fire and so on and so forth, depending on the way it was used. The same applies to vessels made of bone. Nowadays, dishes made of bone are no longer available.
Vessels Which Need Torching
Skewers and spits which are used with fire but without liquids must be torched with fire until sparks emerge, i.e. when the metal turns red. The same applies to a “Wonder Pot” which is used to bake Chametz cakes throughout the year which can only be koshered by torching it with fire until the metal turns red-hot. Usually, this is not practical with regards to pots and one must therefore purchase new pots for Pesach. Nevertheless, a pot which was used only for cooking Chametz throughout the year can be koshered with Hag’ala as we have explained.
In the next Halacha, we shall, G-d-willing, discuss this matter further.