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Pots that Don’t Absorb Taste

Throughout all of Yoreh Deah Chelek Alef and Hilchos Pesach (and perhaps other places in Shulchan Aruch as well) we see the idea of “blias” by celim.

This is all true of a metal pot. However, a glass pot, according to the Machaber, doesn’t take in any blias at all. On the other side of things, if one has a pot made of “cheres” (that one can never kasher…)

I’m having a difficult time understanding how this din is still relevant to today’s pots. Is there really a taste left inside of a metal pot? Once upon a time a metal pot that was cooked in over time would slowly become dirty, grimy, filthy, covered in black, clearly a used thing. One could look at this and understand that there is a “taste” left in the walls of the pot. However, I don’t see how this is true of a normal metal pot in today’s market, which is smooth, finished off, and more or less retains it’s original color and look and stays clean over time. Where is the “taste” in the walls of this pot? If someone would cook milk or meat in it and then cook water in it, would the water have any taste to it (assuming the pot was cleaned in between)?

While I don’t see any posek using this argument even as a “tziruf” to be makil in a question of issur v’heter, still, I’m looking for any poskim that perhaps spoke about this or entertained the possibility (or any reason why this simply is not the case.) Maybe today’s “metal” pots are more like a glass pot?

Answer:

It is generally true that in today’s pots we don’t find much absorption of taste. I believe that if one were to thoroughly clean the cholent pot after Shabbos, and then boil water in it, the taste of the cholent won’t be felt.

However, poskim do not generally mention this consideration, for two reasons:

1. It is assumed that the prohibition of beliyos applies to materials: Chazal decided which materials absorb taste, and all pots and utensils made of these materials are therefore subject to the laws of beliyos. This idea is stated by Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch (5:115).

2. Under the assumption that today’s utensils don’t absorb taste, we will end up erasing a large part of the Shulchan Aruch. This is something that authorities are not very keen on doing, and such a radical change can lead to many pitfalls.

3. The entire idea of technological advances making changes to the halachah is something poskim are fearful of, because it brings us back to the reform debates of the 19th century.

I have heard of some poskim that did use this consideration as a tziruf, but have not seen this written, and it cannot be relied on.

Best wishes.

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4 Comments

  1. 1) Well, doesn’t apply to glass according to the Shulchan Aruch (and perhaps is only a chumrah by Pesach.) If a material that we have now a days would fit into why glass doesn’t absorb according to the Rabbis why wouldn’t this be muter?)

    2) Certainly not erasing! I don’t doubt that an old, metal, black, grimy, filthy, dirty cooking pot used 300 years ago absorbs taste and will give back taste! Certainly Shulchan Aruch applies to this pot so let’s not act to hasty here….

    3) Always being machmir is not the way of Yiddishkeit (koach d’heterah adif.) As well it’s not Emes (an important middah.) I don’t know if it brings us back to any debate since other “movements” outside of yiddishkeit are so far removed there are not so many debates taking place. I think Chabad and Aish could provide of statistic for where most non-frum Jews are holding in their observances or practices. Rarely would you find a “reform” person so strong and steadfast in their “beliefs”…

    Poskim have used this as a tziruf!?!?! I’d like to know who if they are willing to reveal themselves. I was told by someone simply raising this point as a discussion could land someone in cherem now a days…Maybe if someone would be m’farsem it on their iPhone would they be put in cherem ;).

    I know R’ Yehoshua Pfeffer has a kesher with R’ Asher Weiss…So I’ll quote what I once heard from him by a shiur “The Torah is decided in a scientific laboratory”. It was said in regards to baby wipes. However it stuck with me none the less.

    I’m certainly not advocating this position (with pots) l’maseh or even as a tziruf. Just simply raising a point to see if anyone has discussed it.

    1. 1. Glass is a material that doesn’t absorb in any form, so it is different from the case of metal, which generally absorbs taste, but can be treated in such a way that it shouldn’t absorb.
      2. Erasing in practice: Who uses 300-year-old pots nowadays?
      3. True. But as you understand making “reforms” is a delicate issue.
      Re. the poskim: Not willing to reveal themselves.
      True, the Torah isn’t decided in a lab, but we do live in a real world, and the Torah has to apply to the world as we know it. Chazal could say that glass doesn’t absorb, and the question is raised concerning different types of materials (such as stone and bone utensils), so there isn’t any reason why the question shouldn’t be raised for all materials.

  2. Sorry! Big mistake in my quite…”The Torah *ISN’T* decided in a scientific laboratory…”

  3. R’ Yehoshua Pfeffer — Please ask Rav Asher Weiss when you have chance what he would say to such a question or possibility about using this a tziruf by todays pots. He’s a big m’chadesh who is generally not afraid to state his opinion. I would be interested to know what he says.

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