Immersing/Toiveling many vessels together in a basket or bag in a Mikveh Keilim

1. Question: [Wednesday, 16th Shevat 5783]

I bought a large amount of cutlery that needs to be immersed in the Keilim Mikveh I would like to know if I can just put them all in a bag or basket or pitcher or cup and immerse it all at once, or if I need to immerse every piece individually which would of course take much more time?

While the details of this matter is complex and depends on different scenarios, the following method is valid in all cases and therefore is the suggestive approach: You may enter the cutlery into a perforated basket or bag, or cup or pitcher [with at least 5 centimeter circumference opening], and immerse the entire basket, bag, cup, pitcher, in the mikvah water, hence accomplishing the Tevila for all the vessel simultaneously. This is valid even if the cutlery will be touching each other while in the water. However, in order to make sure that the water reaches all areas of the cutlery, you should shake the basket or cup in a way that the vessels that are inside it will also shake, hence making them float in the water even momentarily. Those who are particular to immerse vessels three times [despite it not being required from the letter of the law] are to remove the basket from the water and reenter it for a total of three times.

Explanation: The question of whether one may immerse a vessel within a vessel in a mikvah touches upon two halachic issues: 1) Is the immersion valid in such a method when it is immersed within another vessel, and can the water in the vessel become the status of Mayim Sheuvim? 2) Must the water touch every area of the vessel, and must one worry that this will not be accomplished if one is immersing many vessels together within another vessel, and hence make the immersion invalid.

Regarding the first question, we have an explicit Mishneh which rules that it is permitted to immerse one vessel within another, although doing so carries certain regulations which limit its validity. For example, if the outer vessel likewise needs to be immersed in its own right, such as if one places cutlery in a metal cup that also needs to be immersed, then the immersion is always valid irrelevant of the size of the hole of the cup, so long as water was able to fully penetrate into the cup, and it was immersed with the opening of the vessel facing upwards. If, however, one immerses the vessel in a way that it’s opening is tilted to the side, then the immersion is only valid for the vessels that are within it, if the hole of the vessel is the size of “Kishifoferes Hanod,” which is approximately a 5 cm circumference.

In the event that the outer vessel does not need to be immersed, such as if one uses a cup that was already immersed to hold the cutlery inside of it [or it is a glass cup which is holding metal cutlery], then in all cases the immersion is only valid if the hole of the vessel is the size of “Kishifoferes Hanod,” irrelevant of the direction of the immersion, whether facing upwards or tilted to the side. The reason behind these restrictions is because ideally when water enters into a vessel the water in the vessel becomes the status of “Mayim Sheuvim/drawn water” which is invalid for Mikveh immersion. If, however, the hole of the vessel is the size of “Kishifoferes Hanod,” then the water that enters into it is not considered Mayim Sheuvim, as it remains connected with the Mikveh water that is outside the vessel. This indeed is the size of the hole that needs to be made between the two pools of water by all our Mikvaos today in order to validate the pool that contains a city water, by having it being considered attached with the pool that contains the rainwater. The one exception to this rule is if the outer vessel also needs to be immersed, and it is immersed with its opening facing up, in which case even the tiniest hole suffices to attach the water that enters the vessel with water that floats above it and negates it from being the status of Mayim Sheuvim.

Now, all the above is regarding immersing one vessel within another vessel which only contains one opening, such as the top of a cup. However, when immersing vessels within a perforated vessel, such as a basket strainer, then the Rama rules that the immersion is always valid in all cases being that the vessel is not able to hold any water due to its perforations, and hence is even better than the opening of “Kishifoferes Hanod.” However, some limit this only to a case in which all the perforations together which are immersed inside the Mikveh make up the size of “Kishifoferes Hanod.” Accordingly, one should enter the basket somewhat into the water in order so all the perforations together make up “Kishifoferes Hanod.” Furthermore, some write that if the basket is made of metal or plastic, or does not contain any perforations on its bottom, then the rule of the Rama does not apply and one is to thus immerse the entire basket into the water having the water float above the opening of the basket, and making sure that the opening contains a circumference of “Kishifoferes Hanod.”

Based on all this we have suggested above to always immerse the entire vessel into the water and that the opening always have a 5 cm circumference, as is only in such a case is it valid according to all opinions and in all scenarios, as even if the outer vessel is a non-perforated vessel, or is perforated but has the status of a nonperforated vessel [as discussed above], immersing it simultaneously is always valid if the entrance hole of the main vessel is “Kishifoferes Hanod.”

Regarding the second question, it is a clear ruling that the water must reach every part of the vessel for the immersion to be valid, and due to this we have an entire chapter in the Shulchan Aruch dedicated to the laws of Chatzitza invalidations when immersing vessels. Now, regarding if we suspect that perhaps the water will not reach to every area of the vessel when immersing them simultaneously together, such as in a basket or bag or cup, so in the Mishneh, Talmud, and Poskim we find an explicit ruling that in contrast to the laws of Hagalah, by the laws of Tevilas Keilim there is no issue with immersing many vessels together even if they touch each other, as certainly the water gets between the vessels and touches all the areas of the vessels, hence making it a valid immersion. This is in contrast to Hagalas Keilim in which we rule that one may not Kasher many vessels together simultaneously in a sack or bag if the vessels touch each other, as the Hagala water must reach all areas of the vessels, and the boiling heat of the water is unable to penetrate in the areas that the vessels are touching each other. Despite this ruling, however, we find in Yoreh Deah a number of caveats to this general allowance, such as that the vessel must be loose within the second vessel, and that if the inner vessel is heavy then it is an invalid immersion being that the water will not penetrate between the bottom of the inner vessel and outer vessel due to the weight. It is based on an explicit ruling elsewhere in Yoreh Deah that one must hold onto the vessel loosely upon immersing it, otherwise the area of the grasp is considered a Chatzitza. Due to this, the suggestive practice is that whenever one immerses many vessels within a basket or other vessel, that they shake the vessels while inside the water in order to separate them from each other and allow the water to reach every area of every vessel.

So to summarize: It is permitted for one to enter vessels into a basket or bag or vessel and immerse it in the mikvah water, hence accomplishing the Tevila for all the vessel simultaneously. This applies even if the vessel will be touching each other. However, in order to cover one’s bases according to all opinions and in all scenarios, one should be particular to a) immerse the entire basket or bag or vessel within the water hence having the water float above the opening to the vessel, b) Make sure the vessel has an opening of 5 centimeters in circumference, and c) shake the vessel in a way that the vessels that are inside it will also shake, hence allowing the water to reach all areas of the inner vessels.

Sources: See Pesakim Uteshuvos 120:10; Madrich Kashrus Eida Hachareidis; Pamei Yaakov 197 p. 203; See regarding the general allowance to immerse vessels within another vessel and its caveats regarding the size of the hole of the outer vessel as well as the position of the immersion: Michaber and Rama Y.D. 201:9; Rama 202:6; Shach 201:28; 202:4 Taz 201:18; Chagiga 22a; Mishneh Mikvaos 6:2; Lecehm Usimla 201:54; Meiy HaShiloach 6:11 See regarding immersing many vessels together simultaneously in a perforated basket: Rama Y.D. 201:9; Admur 452:25; Beis Yosef Y.D. 201; Mishneh Mikvaos 6:5 and Rav Shimshon there; Chagiga 22a; Kesef Mishneh Mikvaos 6:8; Chcham Tzevi 40; Levushei Serud Y.D. 206; Chazon Ish Y.D. 136:4; Shevet Halevi 8:205; Chiba Litahara 3:2; Mikveh Taharah 201:136; Koveitz Teshuvos 4:117;  See regarding that there is no issue with the vessels touching each other when it comes to Tevilas Keilim, in contrast to Hagalas Keilim: Admur 452:25 “Regarding Tevila, this touching is not considered an obstruction/Chatzitza”; Taz 452:9; Levush 452:2; Chok Yaakov 452:15; Rokeiach 252; Chagiga 22a; Mishneh Mikvaos 6:2; Mordechai Pesachim 580; See regarding that the vessel must be held loosely while in the water for it to be valid, as otherwise it is considered a Chatzitza: Michaber 120:2; See regarding that the inner vessel must be loose within the outer vessel and cannot be too heavy: Rama 202:6; Shach 202:6 in name of Issur Viheter