What to do with cutlery from a Non – Orthodox home?
Rabbanit Surale Rosen
She'elaWe received silverware from a Non - Orthodox kosher home. The silverware was used for meat בשרי but has not been used for at least 18 years. We now tovelled it. Can we use it or must it be kashered?
We also have silverware where it is not clear if it was used for meat or dairy (but most probably meat), but was also not used for at least 18 years. What is the status for that? We also just tovelled(dipped it in a mikveh for utensils) it.
We hold that עד אחד נאמן באיסורין – one witness is deemed credible with regard to prohibitions, when he/she is known to be careful with that specific prohibition (Gemara Gittin 2b). In your case it is Kashrut that we know was kept in the house where the silverware came from and we can rely on the fact that it was used for whatever purpose the previous owners said it was used for.
As to the other set – it requires Kashering. Although such a long time has elapsed since it was last used, we hold that its original meat/milk usage is still absorbed in the silverware.
The Shulkhan Arukh (Yoreh De’ah 122) rules that סתם כלים אינם בני יומן – if we don’t know the original use of Kitchen tools they are regarded as those that haven’t been used on that day. This means that the טעם, taste, of what they were used for (meat or milk) is less dominant. They are נותן טעם בן נותן טעם – literally, taste that is the outcome of another taste. Meaning: if we cooked meat in a pot, then the taste of the meat was absorbed in the pot for that day and whatever else you cook in the pot on that same day, absorbs the meat. The next day however, we deem the pot to give whatever we cook in it a ‘second degree taste’ – not of the actual meat but rather, of the pot that absorbed the taste of meat the previous day.
The Shulchan Aruch paskens that if one mistakenly used a dish without knowing its previous usage, then the food is kosher and can be eaten, since it is only נותן טעם בן נותן טעם but only בדעבד. One must always find out whether the dish was used for meat/milk before using it.
The Pitkhey Tshuva (ס“ק ו) clarifies that the Shulkhan Arukh‘s ruling that סתם כלים אינם בני יומן only applies when the owner of the dish is not around to say whether it’s בשרי or חלבי – meat or dairy. But if the owner is present and one mistakenly used a meat dish for dairy without checking first, then the food is forbidden.
Back to your second set of silverware – since there is no way of finding out what that set was used for because the previous owner is either not present or doesn’t remember, then one has to Kasher the silverware; it can then be used for either meat or milk.