Shabbat Parashat Eikev| 5767
Ask The Rabbi
Question: I have a full set of Corelle dishes that I used to use for dairy, but I haven’t used them at all in 10 years. May I use them for meat now?
Answer: We can confidently permit you to convert the dishes from dairy use to meat use because of a combination of factors. It is worthwhile to be exposed to the factors because they arise in other situations, many of which are less clear-cut. We caution that each of the factors is the subject of differing positions among poskim and different practices in different communities. One should ask his local rabbi as questions arise. He can best inquire, consider various halachic factors and the level of need, and apply the local customs.
There are two issues to deal with. The first is whether Corelle dishes require hechsher (kashering, the halachically mandated purging of taste, absorbed in a utensil’s walls) and, if so, whether hechsher works. Most materials that absorbed problematic taste can have it removed by hagala,which is immersing them in boiling hot water for a few seconds. However, this system does not work for earthenware utensils (Pesachim 30b). The Rishonim dispute the status of glass. On one hand, it is made out of sand, which is a type of earth. On the other hand, it is hard and smooth, which some feel indicates that is less porous than other materials. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 451:26) says that glass does not require hechsher, and this is the practice of Sephardim. However, Ashkenazim follow the Rama (ad loc.), who takes the opposite extreme, ruling that hechsher does not work for it.
However, many poskim limit the Rama’s stringency regarding glass to Pesach, whose laws are particularly stringent, whereas in regard to treif and dairy and meat one may be lenient (see Tevillat Keilim (Cohen) 13:(38)). Although some allow switching glass dishes from dairy to meat or vice versa without hechsher, we suggest doing hagala when possible. (Corelle will not shatter in the hot water.) Again, different rabbis and communities have different policies on this matter.
Assuming hechsher is needed, there is usually another problem. The Magen Avraham (509:11) reports a minhag not to allow kashering utensils between dairy and meat use. The rationale is that if we allow one to kasher freely, he may decide to have only one set of utensils that he uses for both. Chazal opposed this situation, as we see that the gemara (Chulin 8b) states that one should have three different knives to use for different functions. This minhag is widely accepted and considered binding in Ashkenazic communities.
We understandably find many instances in which poskim claimed that one need not extend the custom of not switching utensils from milk to meat to more cases than necessary. One of the suggestions is particularly pertinent here. After sitting unused for 12 months, the taste absorbed in a utensil’s walls is expected to dissipate or even disappear (see Noda B’Yehuda II, YD 51). Therefore, we find in certain circumstances and according to certain opinions, leniency regarding such cases. It is possible that after twelve months without use, one can kasher and switch milk utensils to meat use (see Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah I, 43). Even if one does not want to accept this leniency, in a case of Corelle dishes, which may not have absorbed in the first place, the grounds to allow the switch are extremely strong. A further point of leniency is that plates, upon which hot food is placed only after it has been removed from the heat source, has less chance of absorbing (see Igrot Moshe, YD II, 46).
Therefore, under the circumstances you describe, you should feel free to switch the use of the Corelle dishes from milk to meat, preferably after performing hagala. We encourage you to seek the advice of a local rabbi if similar circumstances arise so that he can properly apply the principles we just touched upon to the specifics of those cases.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z"l.
May their memory be a blessing!