Toiveling a Frozen Yogurt Machine

I was recently asked the following question:

I am opening a yogurt shop without a hechsher but would like to keep my product kosher. Do the frozen yogurt machines need to be toiveled or even any of the pieces that can be removed need to be toiveled?

 

Hatzlacha on your new venture.

This is a fascinating and difficult question. On one hand, assuming there are metal pieces coming in direct contact with the food being prepared, there should be an obligation to toivel it miD’Oraisa. Furthermore, unlike kashering where the primary concern relates to the impact of the utensil on the food, which would not be an issue when it is anyways not being sold as Kosher, tevila is different. Since the primary obligation of tevila is incumbent upon the user prior to his usage of the object, it should be irrelevant who the customers are. In this case, since a Jew, you, are intending to utilize this equipment, it should require tevila.

However, the Shulchan AruchYoreh Deah 120:8 provides that only usage for preparing or serving food obligates tevila, but a knife designated for cutting paper is exempt. The main question would be if we can classify preparing food exclusively for non-Jews as an exempt usage. I had the opportunity to present this question to HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg (HaRav Shlomo Zalamn Auerbach zatzal’s son-in-law and the former Av Beis Din of the Rabbanut’s Beis Din HaGadol) last week, and he found this logic a likely possibility. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in locating any source for such a distinction, and he was unwilling to commit to accepting the classification of solely gentile consumption as a non-food usage that would exempt it from tevila. He repeated a number of times “It sounds good, but…” Even when I pressed him to take into account the Poskim who consider an electrical appliance an exempt item due to its connection to the ground, he remained noncommittal.

In conclusion, it seems that you must toivel whatever parts of the machinery are obligated in tevila, but certainly without a bracha. Certainly, if you expect to occasionally eat the frozen yogurt yourself relying on your personal knowledge that it is truly Kosher, you are absolutely required to toivel it. If you wish to know which specific parts require tevila, you will have to send me a diagram or photo of the machine.

 

Addendum

 

I sent this question to a number of acquaintances who work for various Kashrus organization to hear their policies. I received the following response from Rabbi Eli Gersten of the OU:

The OU arranges a mechira of 2% of the machine to a non-Jew. And it is then borrowed/rented back from the non-Jew.

We write up a shtar and do various other kinyanim as well (Kesef, suddar, agav, chatzer, and situmta (handshake).

The 2% is enough to create a shutfos but yet not enough that the non-Jew will decide to walk off the machine. It also makes for a manageable price.

In restaurants there are many machines that require this eitza, because they are too heavy or they will break if toiveled.

 

My Shver, Rabbi Reuven Drucker, the Rav of Agudath Israel of Edison/Highland Park, NJ and Rabbinical Board member of the Vaad HaKashrus of Raritan Valley related to me that their policy is to require Tevilla even for large equipment. Only as a last resort will they rely upon a sale similar to the OU.

 

Rabbi Mordechai Frankel of the Star-K responded:

As you mentioned, there are a number of sevoros to be lenient. The ערוך השלחן סי’ קכ סעי’ לט writes –

ודע דלא ראינו מעולם שיטבילו היורות של ברזל או של נחשת הקבועים בהתנורים שמחממין בהם הרבה חמין, ואין לומר מטעם דהמחוברים לתנור והתנור מחובר לקרקע ודינם כקרקע ולא ככלי שהרי קיי”ל דתלוש ולבסוף חיברו הוה כתלוש לענין הכשר זרעים ועכו”ם וגם לענין שחיטה דעת הרי”ף והרמב”ם דהוה כתלוש כמ”ש בסי’ ו’ סעיף ד’ ע”ש, ומ”מ י”ל דמ”מ אינם בכלל כלי סעודה, דכלי סעודה לא מקרי אלא כשמטלטלין אותם ממקום למקום. עוד אפשר לומר דכל כלי שהיא גדולה יותר מדאי והיא עשויה שממנה ישפכו לכלים קטנים ג”כ אינה נקראת כלי סעודה והיא כלי אוצר ולא כלי סעודה, ולכן לא ראינו מעולם שיטבילו חביות גדולות של מתכות האצורים בהם מים או שארי משקין דכיון שהיא גדולה יותר מדאי אינה נקראת כלי סעודה דכלי סעודה הוי מה שמשמשין בהם אצל התנור ובבית המבשלות ובשלחן האכילה ולא הכלים הגדולים שלהם מיוחד מקום בפ”ע.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach שו”ת מנחת שלמה מהדורה הישנה ח”ב סי’ סו (ונשמט במהדורה החדשה) writes –

מגירות ומדפים ממתכת של מקרר חשיבי כחלק מהמקרר וכמו שאין נוהגים לטבול מקרר וחשובני דהוא מפני שהוא כלי העומד לנחת ואין רגילין כלל לטלטל אותו ממקום למקום ולכן אינו חשוב ככלי סעודה ה”ה גם במגירות ומדפים.

Even though the Chachmas Odom and Reb Akiva Eiger don’t seem to hold of this sevara, the Oruch Hashulchan and Minchas Shlomo are saying that this is the minhag.

Furthermore, Rav Shlomo Zalman writes there –

כלי חשמל, יש לצרף דעת האומרים דבלא”ה אינו טעון טבילה הואיל ועיקר תשמישו של הכלי הוא בשעה שמחובר ע”י תקע עם הקרקע מיקרי מחובר לקרקע.

He is ready to use the sevara that it needs to be plugged in as a tziruf.

You mentioned that it a large kli which is more than 40 se’ah may not require tevilah, but the beis kibbul of this kli does not hold that amount. Those who are meikel do so because a kli which is 40 se’ah big is tofeis reshus le’atzmo, so I don’t think that the size of the bies kibul matters. See Rav Shlom Kluger שו”ת טוב טעם ודעת מהדו”ג ח”ב סי’ כב.

Therefore, there are clearly sevaros lehakel.

 

In response to my question what they would do l’Maaseh, I forwarded him the link from Shimon Rottenberg and he showed a picture of the machine to Rav Heinemann. His reply was:

I showed it to Rabbi Heinemann, and he said that it is large and is not a kli seudah and does not need tevilah.

 

 

28 thoughts on “Toiveling a Frozen Yogurt Machine

  1. The concluding remarks regarding toiveling a frozen yogurt machine
    stipulate the necessity of doing so “but certainly without a bracha”.
    This is not the first time I have read of such exclusion.
    Would it not be better if people were encouraged to recite and even compose a beracha for any event in which they wished to connect with the Divine Source and elevate their life?
    I look forward to a response.
    Thank you!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful question.
      A bracha is not a simple matter and its recital is not to be taken lightly. In fact, the Gemara Berachos determines, and it is codified in the Shulchan Aruch, that when a doubt exists regarding the existence of an obligation to recite a bracha, one must abstain. Consequently, it is accepted that today we are not capable of the lofty spiritual heights that the Sages of the Talmud were; and we cannot initiate our own original berachos.
      Certainly, one is welcome to express his feeling towards Hashem at every occasion in his life, but when it does not meet the specific criteria delineated in the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch, a bracha is NOT the proper method to do so.

    • Two excellent points.
      If the machine can be disassembled and reassembled by a Jew, it would not require Tevila. However, the disassembly must render it unusable. Furthermore, this repair must be a type that requires a professional, and could not usually be performed by an amateur.
      The issue of size is an interesting point. While a Kli larger than 40 se’ah does not become Tamei, a number of Poskim disassociate the rules of Tumah in general with those of Tevilas Keilim. Certainly, the implication of Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Binas Adam’s struggles to justify the practice of not Toiveling huge beer fermenters would imply they did not consider the size a significant factor.

  2. Ed Osdoba • I can tell you as a chef, anyone who operates a frozen yogurt machine will be tempted to sample (eat) the product themselves. Your last few sentences to them validate your kashrus. Thank you for steering them straight. And I hope they do not find themselves in their yogurt shop on shabbos.

  3. a possible solution would be to dismantle the machine in order to render it no longer a keli and have it put back together. Dismantling parts of the machine and toivelling them is not usually acceptable even though plastic itself doesnt need tevilah but if it is part of the machine one needs to toivel a complete keli. a case in question is the old thermos flasks where the actual flask is glass but the outer casing is plastic one needs to toivel the whole keli and not dismantle the glass from the outer casing.

      • once the keli belongs to a yid and is then disassembled rendering it no longer a keli is it not sufficient to be reassembled on the yids instruction is it necessary that the act of reassembling must be done by a jewish technician if all the parts belong to a yid and are reassembled on a yids instruction?

        • Regarding a non-Jew fixing the Jew’s disassembled machine, the Pri Megadim OC 452 Eshel Avraham 13 at the end compares the Halacha to that of a non-Jewish craftsman manufacturing a vessel on behalf of a Jewish customer. In the Shulchan Aruch YD 120:10, the Mechaber paskens that when the Jewish client provides the material for the gentile worker, no Tevila is required. However, the Rama cites opposing opinions, and rules that Tevila should be done without a bracha. However, the primary reason cited there is אומן קונה בשבח כלי. The Aruch HaShulchan qualifies that a salried or hourly worker is not an אומן in this regard and the Chazon Ish suggests that when Dina d’Malchusa does not provide the worker with any ownership, no Tevila is required. Both of these Sevaros would presumably be applicable to our situation. Furthermore, the Shibalei HaLeket suggests that paying the gentile worker in advance would also prevent application of אומן קונה בשבח כלי.
          The Shach §21 concurs with the Rema that a non-Jewish worker obligates Tevila, and also extends it to fixing a broken utensil like the Pri Megadim did. However he adds a second motive, that the non-Jew was מעמיד the Kli by rendering it functional. This motive should supersede the absence of אומן קונה בשבח כלי and obligate Tevila in any circumstance. See also Taz §12.

  4. I have been selling these and other commercial food machines for over 15 years.
    As a pretext, there are 2 types of machines, 1) gravity fed, 2) pressurized
    The gravity fed machines have a built-in stainless vat on top that holds the pre-mix contents, and cannot be separated from the machine itself for toivling purposes, if one wants to toivel that part, they would have to immerse the whole machine in water, which is probably impossible if you have seen those machines.
    The pressurized machine has removable plastic bins in the base to keep the pre-mix and a pump takes the pre-mix thru various plastic tubing to the dispenser.
    Both machines primarily have only plastic parts where the mix passes thru, which are easy and inexpensive to change.
    I’m no Rabbi, but from my previous experiences working with Kosher clientele, I found that most Dayonim don’t require plastic to be toiveled, in addition, I remember something, that when something is very large, it’s no longer considered a Kaile for Toivling purposes, correct me if I’m wrong.
    In all those years I have never had an instance that a Mashgiach or Dayen should require Tvillah on an Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt machine.

    • Shimon: Thank you for your professional evaluation and explanation.
      From your description of the gravity fed machines, I don’t see any Heter to use it without Tevila. Have you had experience with a Mashgiach or Dayan who permitted these models without Tevila? I would be very curious to know why.
      The pressurized version has no metal parts that come into contact with the product? There are no mixing blades, etc.?
      There is certainly sufficient ground to be lenient on plastic, although some Poskim do suggest Toiveling it without a bracha.
      A very large vessel, over 40 se’ah, is not Mekabel Tumah. However, most Poskim do not accept this as grounds to exempt it from Tevila. It is possible that in conjunction with other factors, a Posek may be Meikel.

      • I’m not 100% sure, but I think that the vat is welded to the frame of the machine, which makes it impossible to remove. I once hade an instance with a used pressurized machine that the Rav Hamachshir said to Kasher and Toivel only the easily accessible metal parts, and change the plastic parts for new. I never mix halocho with my sales. I always advise my customers to ask their Rav.
        This link shows a top view of a gravity machine http://www.hommy.com/uploadfile/20120717214455278.jpg
        The pressurized version has no metal parts that come into contact with the product? There are no mixing blades, etc.?
        The only metal parts in ths machine, are easily removable for cleaning. see the owners manual with pictures here: http://www.taylor-company.com/service/resources/op_man/8752_8756_8757op0.pdf

        • Shimon: Thank you so much. It is essential to have accurate and precise technical information to arrive at a clear and authoritative Psak.
          It seems to me from the diagrams that beater is the most problematic component, as I presume it is made out of metal. And since it cannot function without the casing housing it, even if this casing is plastic it is all considered a single Kli which is obligated in Tevila. So, it would be insufficient to simple remove the beater and Toivel it alone, the entire machine should require Tevila intact, which I gather is impractical if not impossible.

  5. I discussed this with my chavrusa this morning and he agrees with you. I havent learnt hilchos tevilas kelim in depth (as yet). I am really grateful for your response.
    There is a certain Rav in NY who gives a hechsher to shabos urn that does not need toivelling, and I recall that my brother Dayan Usher Eckstein queried this and I seem to remember that the response was that the utensils are purchased dismantled and then reassembled by a company who has this rovs hechsher, I do not recall if the workers are Jewish I seem to remember this was not the case.

  6. 1. If you are dealing with a commercial machine then it would be classified as a kli mischar.
    2. The parts that come apart are the only part of the machine that are in contact with the food. Only that should require tevilah.
    3. It is inconceivable that a commercial frozen yogurt machine should not come apart due to health and bacteria concerns. No health dept would allow the use of such machines

    • Defining Kli Sechora as anything used in the commercial production of food is controversial at best.
      The Beis Yosef YD 120, in explaining the Halacha I cited in the body of my article, writes that included in the Halacha of a knife purchased to cut papers which is exempt from Tevila due to it usage for non-food purposes, is also a store keeper who sells utensils. If a Jewish merchant owns a business that deals in household items, he is exempt from Toiveling them, since in his perspective they are merely a commodity and not a vessel for food. Consequently, if someone would borrow some objects from him, they need not immerse them prior to use.
      However, to extend this interpretation to exempt a hotel or restaurant from Toivelling their plates and silverware is not by any means a universally accepted Psak. While the Darkei Teshuva does suggest as much, as does Reb Shlomo Kluger; the Maharil Diskin and others disagree. Reb Moshe Feinstein, Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and yblct Rav Ovadia Yosef all follow the stringent opinion. This is accepted by all Mehadrin Hechsherim here in EY.
      The question would remain if we can classify this usage of a machine that creates the frozen yogurt as less of an intrinsic Kli Seuda than plates and flatware; and instead compare it to a bottle or can used to store manufactured foods for sale, which is more accepted in the Poskim to be considered a lenient Kli Sechora. It seems to me that a vessel for producing a food is more similar to one for serving and eating it, which requires Tevila, and not to one used solely for storage which is in general more lenient.
      Consequently, it seems to me that while there are lenient opinions, and if it is impossible to Toivel the equipment we may be forced to rely upon them, the Gedolei HaPoskim would not accept this Kula and would forbid their usage without Tevila.

    • 1. It is inconceivable that a commercial frozen yogurt machine should not come apart due to health and bacteria concerns. No health dept would allow the use of such machines

      Let me explain, ALL parts can come apart on every machine! The question is, by what method. Some parts are welded to the frame of the machine, and are meant to stay there forever, i.e. the round housing for the Auger (link to picture: http://tiny.cc/eg52iw) which is part of the freezing cylinder, and the manufacturer doesn’t even offer a part number for that, in case it needs to be replaced.
      You can argue that since it’s welded on, its removable, but realistically you can’t remove it.
      In terms of cleaning, the manufacturer expects the user to clean the machine by running water thru the entire machine instead of the ice cream mix, therefore rinsing all parts with water. And the health dept’s have no objection to that method.

  7. You are obviously missing the metzius of an yogurt machine. It definitely serves as a recepticle for holding and frezzing the yogurt until it is dispensed in a cup or cone.
    Although there are those that are machmir regarding tevilah for a hotel or caterer that would only apply to something that is toivable.
    You are also conveniently ignoring the other points that I made

  8. What about commercial juicing machines and coffee machines where the drink or juice etc is prepared from raw materials doesn’t all the same questions apply?
    I was actually asked with regards to a hot drinks machine but without actually knowing the exact model and precisely how it operates I suggested the same to have it professionally dismantled and reassembled to obviate the requirement for tevilla

    • The hot drink machine, I assume is the one you press the button in the front, and the product is dispensed into a cup.
      If so, than the powder is kept in a plastic hopper, and is dispensed directly into the cup thru plastic tubing, at the same time that water is dispensed directly into the cup.
      The water is heated by transferring thru a heat exchanger, and is not kept within the machine in a reserve tank.

      • Not necessarily there are machines that grind and brew coffee beans there are other machines like Flavia that have a unique delivery system they operate by inserting a pouch with the ground coffee and the machine simply forces boiling water through the pouch there is no storage of ingredients however just as one would need to toivel an urn why would this be any different? There are many different systems

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