New vessels used for eating and serving which are bought from a non-Jew (such as most utensils produced outside of Israel) must be immersed in a Mikveh before being used. The Torah states (Bamidbar 31) that after the Jewish nation fought against the nation of Midyan and they returned from the war with the spoils, Hashem commanded them to immerse the vessels from the spoils in a Mikveh (Chullin 75b). Nevertheless, although immersing metal vessels is a Torah commandment, immersing glass vessels is only a rabbinic enactment, which results in several halachic ramifications (for instance, a minor, i.e. a boy under the age of thirteen or a girl under the age of twelve, may not be sent to immerse vessels in a Mikveh which are required to be immersed by Torah law, such a metal vessels; however, a child may be sent to immerse vessels which require immersing by rabbinic law and the child is likewise believed that he has carried out his mission.)
Before one immerses a vessel in the Mikveh, one must recite a blessing on this Mitzvah. If one is only immersing one vessel, one recites the blessing of “Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Tevilat Keli.” If one is immersing two or more vessels, one recites, “Al Tevilat Kelim.” If one has recited the “Al Tevilat Kelim” blessing for one vessel or the “Al Tevilat Keli” for several vessels, one has fulfilled his obligation and one need not repeat the blessing.
When one immerses the vessel, it must be immersed all at once and must be completely submerged in the waters of the Mikveh. Even if the vessel is large or long, one may not immerse half of it and then immerse the other half, for this kind of immersion is invalid.
In most communities where there is a Torah-observant Jewish population and a Mikveh for people, there is usually a separate Mikveh designated for immersing vessels. One must be careful that all of the vessels in one’s home have been immersed in a valid Mikveh, for as long as they have not been, the vessels may not be used for eating or drinking. Nevertheless, if one mistakenly transgresses this law and uses the dishes or vessels, the food does not become forbidden for consumption.
In the next Halacha, we shall, G-d-willing, discuss which vessels must be immersed and which need not be.