Question: What should a person do if he toveled a utensil but forgot to make the brachah?
Short Answer: The person should do nothing, as the utensil is still toveled, but no brachah may be recited at this point. However, some poskim allow the person to make the brachah if he remembers immediately (“toch k’dei dibur”) after the immersion.
I. The B’rachah
The Mordechai (cited in the Beis Yosef, Yoreh Dei’ah 120:3) cites two opinions whether the brachah of “al t’vilas keilim” or “al t’vilas k’li matchis” is recited on t’vilas keilim. The Hagahos HaAshri (cited in the Darchei Moshe ibid) explains the reason for the opinion that holds that “al t’vilas k’li matchis” is recited; it is to exclude utensils that are not obligated in t’vilah.
The Bach (ibid) rules that it makes sense to recite “al t’vilas k’li matchis” because many mitzvos have descriptive brachos. For example, we say “al n’tilas lulav” and not simply “al n’tilah.” Likewise, we say “l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah” and not simply “l’hadlik ner.” The Bach adds that it is appropriate to recite “al n’tilas k’li z’chuchis” when toveling glass utensils.
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 120:3) follows the first opinion in the Mordechai and rules that the brachah of “al t’vilas keilim” is recited. However, this brachah is only recited when a person tovels two utensils (either together or immediately one after the other). When only one utensil is toveled, the brachah of “al t’vilas k’li” is recited.
The Shach (8) seemingly disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch, as he cites the other opinion of the Mordechai, apparently ruling that “al t’vilas k’li matchis” should be recited. The Taz (5), on the other hand, defends the Shulchan Aruch, and even goes so far as to suggest that perhaps we should simply recite “al ha’t’vilah.” The Taz specifically attacks the “proof” of the Bach from Chanukah candles, as there the main mitzvah is Chanukah, whereas here the main mitzvah is the t’vilah.
[As an aside, the sefer Shiurei Halachah B’rurah (T’vilas Keilim, p. 27) notes that some poskim, including the T’shuras Shai, rule that no brachah is made nowadays on any utensil, as we don’t know whether a Jew partly owns the manufacturer. These poskim hold that you cannot rely on a majority to allow the recitation of a brachah. This is not the common minhag].
II. So, What Brachah Should I Say?
Practically, the Aruch HaShulchan (120:22) notes that the common custom is to recite “al t’vilas keilim” even when only one utensil is being toveled. We don’t recite “al ha’t’vilah” by itself, because this is the brachah recited when a woman immerses in a mikvah. We likewise don’t recite “al t’vilas k’li matchis,” as we don’t want to limit the brachah to metal – as opposed to glass – utensils, and regardless, we don’t want to mention unnecessary points of the mitzvah in the brachah.
Indeed, the K’neses HaG’dolah (cited in the sefer VaYomer Gavriel, p. 74) explains that the minhag is to recite “al t’vilas keilim” regardless of how many utensils are being toveled, as the brachah is on the concept of the mitzvah, not directly on this utensil.
However, not everyone agrees with this understanding. The P’ri Chadash (3) rules that b’dieved if one makes “al t’vilas keilim” on one utensil, he has fulfilled the mitzvah. The implication, though, is that ideally one should follow the words of the Shulchan Aruch and make a brachah of “al t’vilas k’li” on one utensil.
III. Comparison To Mezuzah
An interesting question arises, though, according to all of the above poskim. Why, with mezuzah, do we always recite the brachah of “likboa mezuzah” in the singular, regardless of how many mezuzos are affixed at the time of the brachah, but with t’vilas keilim we recite the brachah in the plural (“t’vilas keilim”)?
The Ohel Yaakov (Kashrus L’Pesach U’T’vilas Keilim, p. 269) cites the Az Nidb’ru and Rav C. P. Scheinberg zt”l who answer that there is a distinction between mezuzah and t’vilas keilim. Each doorpost has a separate obligation to have a mezuzah, and thus the singular word “mezuzah” is used in the brachah (even though one brachah is made when affixing many mezuzos), as opposed to t’vilas keilim, where it is incumbent on the individual to be tovel his utensils – all of them. Thus, with t’vilas keilim, the plural of “keilim” is used in the brachah.
The Sheivet HaLevi (6:160) answers that the reason why we don’t use the term “mezuzos” in the plural in the brachah is because in truth, the word “mezuzos” in the Torah refers to the doorposts, not the parchment that we affix to the door. In order to make this clear, we don’t utilize the word “mezuzos,” which is found in the Torah. Additionally, each mezuzah must be affixed separately, as opposed to t’vilas keilim, by which more than one utensil can be toveled simultaneously.
IV. The P’ri M’gadim’s Question
In general, a brachah on a mitzvah is recited “oveir la’asiyasan” – before the mitzvah is performed. See P’sachim (7b). Thus, the Vilna Gaon (8) references this Gemara in connection with the mitzvah of t’vilas keilim, implying that the brachah of t’vilas keilim is recited before immersing the utensil in the mikvah. See also VaYomer Gavriel (ibid, citing the Or Zarua).
But what about if the person forgets to make the brachah until after the utensil is immersed and removed from the water? Should the brachah be recited at that point? Both the P’ri M’gadim (Orach Chayim 232:13, Eishel Avraham) and Rabbi Akiva Eiger (120:3) ask this question but leave it unanswered.
The Ohel Yaakov (ibid, p. 271) notes that the sefer T’vilas Keilim K’Hilchasah rules that no brachah is recited after immersion, as we hold “safeik brachos l’hakeil.” The Ohel Yaakov adds that the Avnei Yashfe ruled that t’vilas keilim is not like the t’vilah of a woman, where we allow the brachah after the immersion because there are certain instances where a person cannot recite the brachah prior to immersion, such as with a convert.
However, T’vilas Keilim K’Hilchasah cites a machlokes whether you may still recite the brachah “toch k’dei dibur,” two-to-three seconds after immersion. The sefer Kisvei Mordechai (483) cites the Chelkas Binyamin who allowed a brachah in such a case, as we rely on the lone opinion of the Or Zarua who, in general, advised that the brachah of t’vilas keilim should be recited after immersion.
Indeed, the sefer Zichron B’tzalel (2:57:125) explains that the question of the P’ri M’gadim and Rabbi Akiva Eiger really depends on whether we rely on the Or Zarua and his opinion that all brachos on t’vilos – human or utensil – may be recited after immersion.
Next Week’s Topic: Must a person tovel electric kitchen appliances?