I just saw an announcement of the Badatz stating that new pots need to be koshered. Is this the halachah, or a chumrah? I recently made aliyah, and in America I had never heard of koshering a new pot, and only a used one bought from a non-Jew.
The concept of koshering new pots, which is commonly practiced in Israel and seldom practiced outside Israel, is a chumrah. In fact, the former gaabad of Badatz writes in Minchas Yitzchak that there is no obligation of doing so. If you have never done this before, there is no obligation to begin now.
Sources: The reason for the stringency is out of concern that the substance used to give new pots their sheen is derived from non-kosher animal fats. However, a recent article by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz has pointed to a number of reasons for which the practice of koshering new pots remains, at the very most, a chumra:
1. Not all pots have the ‘sheen’ that poskim refer to.
2. The majority of oils used in the Western world is vegetable or petroleum based, not animal based. Only in South America would we have to assume that the oil is animal based. Therefore, the majority of pots, even those with a sheen, have no problem of non-kosher oils.
3. Even if the oil is non-kosher, poskim who require koshering refer to cases in which the pots were definitely smeared with prohibited oils while on the fire, which remains uncertain in the case of new pots.
4. Many contemporary poskim, including the Minchas Yitzchak (vol. 4, 112), Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 12, 55), Rav Menashe Klein (Mishnah Halachos vol. 7, 112), Rivevos Efraim (vol. 6, end of 212), Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer vol. 6, Yoreh De’ah 10), all maintain that even if it was smeared with prohibited oils, it is clear that the oils used are completely pagum (inedible), therefore do not present a kashrus concern.
5. Rav Moshe Feinstein, (heard from Rav Shmuel Feurst of Chicago) was also lenient concerning this matter, but for a different reason (the need to kosher the pots, even though the absorbed taste is more than a day old, is out of concern that a person will come to be lenient even concerning a fresh taste; in the case of new pots, there is no way in which somebody could obtain a pot within 24 hours of its production, and therefore the prohibition does not apply).
6. Most tellingly, due to the above reasons, the Eida Chareidis themselves, in their annual Madrich Kashrus [Pesach 5770, pg.25-26], state that after buying new pots that have this she’ilah, ‘the “custom” is to be “stringent” to Kasher it. It only states that the custom is to be stringent.