Illustration by Denis Shifrin
There is a commandment to ritually clean certain unused objects (kalim in Hebrew) associated with cooking or eating. This commandment stems from the Book of Numbers, chapter 31, verses 21-23. The ritual process of immersing these objects is called toiveling.

In preparation for the festival of Passover, I had a toiveling adventure that I would like to pass on to you:

I am not a brave man, but when the Chief asks me to do something even though I would be putting myself at considerable risk, I dutifully comply. The rock band 10-cc said it all in their version of “The Things We do For Love”:

Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river

Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea, 
You lay your bets and then you pay the price
The things we do for love, the things we do for love

So on the Thursday before, in preparation for Passover and for Friday night’s seder, I was assigned the task of making ready by toiveling some brand new dishes and a never-used insert for our portable electric oven.

The sea is 200 yards from our Nahariya apartment. I placed all of the items in a large red plastic tub and dutifully trudged down to the water’s edge where I sat the tub down on a rock outcrop and began my labors.

I took out a couple of dishes and the tray and grate for the oven, and sat them upon the outcrop. Then, taking a dish in each hand, I marched into the rolling surf. I said the appropriate blessing, dipped each dish completely into the sea and started back to the shore.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a tsunami-like wave smacked into me, spinning me around, and I, tush over teacups, went down while holding on to each dish for dear life. The wave, having a life of its own, continued onwards to the outcrop where it swept up and away the tub and the oven inserts. Courageously fighting the undertow, I lifted myself up and out of the sand and out of my stupor, realized what was happening and shuffled toward the now afloat tub that was heading out in the direction of Lebanon some six miles to the north.

Somehow, in Hashem’s mercy, I reached the tub, tossed in the dishes, grasped its handles and made for the shore. But alas, like Darling Clementine, the tray and grates were lost and gone forever…dreadful sorry. The Chief was not all smiles, but knowing what she was working with, accepted the losses, and we went forward to the best seder ever. I hope that your seders were equally as good.

I told this story to family and friends from whom I have been offered and received much in the way of constructive advice. Much of this sage counsel came from the wise men who sit around the table with me on Wednesday nights absorbing Torah wisdom and taking a "le chaim" or two as part of their absorption process.

I have culled the best of their offerings and put together a list of do's and don’ts when toiveling in the sea:

1. Wear one of those yellow-colored life vests that the flight attendants are always talking about, the ones under your seats, especially those with an automatic homing device.
2. Always carry shark repellent.
3. Never toivel alone; always have a trustworthy toiveling buddy with a reliable cell phone to call the air/sea search and rescue people.
4. One gifted wit suggested that toivelers should be licensed by an appropriate authority and have to pass a toiveling exam where the rules of the road are put to the test.
5. Another good soul suggested that the National Insurance Institute make available a toiveler insurance policy, similar to a homeowner's policy, but with medical coverage.
6. Then there was one fellow, well-meaning I'm sure, who partook only of  soft drinks from our Torah table, who opined: "Never, never drink and toivel at the same time; always toivel responsibly” ... maybe that was always drink responsibly, I don't exactly remember.

The attendees at this study group are serious about religious obligations, doing the mitzvot and following Halacha. They entered into an earnest, but heated discussion regarding the obligation not to put oneself into danger, and balancing the equity regarding a husband’s duty to keep peace in his home - “shalom bayis”. Putting shalom bayis aside, it was overwhelmingly agreed that by not toiveling when requested by the Chief, you were putting yourself in a far greater situation of peril than if you did what you were told in the first place ... something akin to “Mine is not to reason why, mine is but to do and die." It was a sobering thought - L’chaim.