12. Hagala in Practice

The hagala water must actually be boiling, and this is a sine qua non with regard to utensils that have absorbed ĥametz as a kli rishon on the fire. As we have learned, the practice, le-khatĥila, is to perform hagala on all utensils in a kli rishon over fire.

The entire utensil must be submerged in the water for a few seconds.[15] Sometimes the immersion of utensils cools the water to the point that it stops boiling. In this case, the utensils should be left in the water until it returns to a boil.

If a utensil cannot be immersed in its entirety into the water, it can be immersed one half at a time (SA 451:11).

Furthermore, when immersing two utensils into the boiling water at one time, one should shake the utensils to ensure that the boiling water circulates between them (based on SA 452:3-4).

Common practice, le-khatĥila, is to rinse the utensils with cold water after hagala, so that the hot water does not remain on them and cause them to reabsorb the taste released during hagala. This is not essential, however, since hagala is normally performed when the utensil is not ben yomo or in water that has a foul taste, so that even if the utensil reabsorbs the taste of the water, it will not be rendered un-kosher (SA 452:7; MB ad loc. 34). Therefore, one should not rinse utensils with cold water if this is liable to damage them. Likewise, if for some reason it is difficult to rinse a utensil with cold water, one need not make an effort to do so.

Though some people have reservations about performing hagala on their utensils, the procedure is actually quite simple. In brief: First, one cleans the utensil and waits twenty-four hours after it absorbed forbidden food. Next, one immerses the utensil in boiling water. If it is possible to take it out and rinse it immediately in cold water, this should be done, but if it is difficult, one may extinguish the fire under the pot of boiling water, wait for the pot to cool down somewhat, and then pour out the hot water, and rinse the utensil a bit in cold water. One may use any pot in the kitchen for hagala, provided that it has not been used for cooking in the previous twenty-four hours.[16]

[15]. See SA 452:1 and MB ad loc. 4, which state that one should not leave the utensils in the water for too long, so that they do not reabsorb what they released. On the other hand, too short a time in the water will not give the utensils enough time to release. MB states that it is difficult to ascertain the precise amount of time that is neither too quick nor too long. However, it states: “If one performs hagala before the time that [ĥametz] becomes forbidden, there is no need to be so precise, and one may leave [the utensils] in the water longer,” since at that point noten ta’am li-fgam is permitted and the ĥametz is batel be-shishim. See Kaf Ha-ĥayim 452:2 which states that some Rishonim maintain that one should leave the utensils in the water until they have released what they absorbed, while other Rishonim maintain that one should insert the utensils in the water and then remove them immediately. Common practice follows the latter opinion, and Pri Ĥadash states, regarding this practice, that Jewish custom has attained the status of law (see Sidur Pesaĥ Ke-hilkhato 7:17 and n. 67). The prevalent custom is to leave the utensils in the boiling water for about three seconds.

[16]. The custom of Ashkenazic communities and some Sephardic communities is to avoid using hagala to switch utensils from meat to dairy and vice versa, so that one does not forget which utensils are meat and which are dairy. However, if a utensil became non-kosher and one koshered it through hagala, he may use it for whatever he wants (if it was meat before, he may use it for dairy and vice versa). Similarly, Ĥatam Sofer §101 states that following the hagala for Pesaĥ, one may change the status of his utensils. One who receives a utensil as a gift may change its status through hagala (Darkhei Teshuva YD 121:59). One may also sell the utensil to a friend, reacquire it, and then change its status through hagala. (Pri Megadim [Eshel Avraham] 452:13, states that in extenuating circumstances one may change the status of his utensils through hagala.)
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