Shailah of the Week by Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum
Rabbinic Coordinator, Kosher Hotline Administrator for the Orthodox Union
This Purim, I am planning to send cookies to my neighbor on a metal tray for mishloach manot. Should I tovel (immerse) the tray, or should my neighbor perform the tevilah?
Bait Yosef (Yoreh De’ah 120) writes that tevilah is only required for utensils used with food. Thus, if a Jewish store owner buys utensils from a non-Jew for resale, the merchant is not obligated to perform the mitzvah of tevilah. Since there is no mitzvah, even if the merchant was to tovel the utensils, the tevilah would be ineffective; the purchaser would be required to perform tevilah in spite of the earlier tevilah.
Similarly, a tray purchased as a stand-alone gift cannot be toveled before it reaches the recipient.
However, if the gift will be a tray with food on it (such as mishloach manot on a tray), there is a dispute whether the giver is required to perform tevilah. Therefore, the proper procedure in the latter case is for the giver to tovel the tray without a bracha and then inform the recipient that they too should tovel the tray without a bracha.