Question: May one continue to use silver vessels or utensils, such as a Kiddush cup, on Pesach after they have been used throughout the rest of the year?
Answer: All vessels used all year round with cold foods or beverages may be used on Pesach after having been thoroughly washed beforehand, for none of a cold food’s flavor is absorbed into the walls of the vessel and there is therefore no concern that any Chametz flavor will later be released into a Passover dish.
Thus, regarding silver vessels, such vessels are certainly used only for cold purposes, such as a silver Kiddush goblet or a silver serving dish and the like in which it is certainly uncommon to place boiling hot foods or beverages. It is therefore sufficient to thoroughly wash these vessels in water (three times) and they may then be used on Pesach, even for the Mitzvot of the Seder night.
On the other hand, the Mordechi (Chapter 2 of Pesachim, Chapter 574) quotes the Ra’avaya and writes: “Regarding silver goblets, one must be concerned that wine and spice are sometimes boiled in them next to the fire and they therefore require Hag’ala in a Keli Rishon.” This means to say that since it is conceivable that one has placed hot Chametz in the goblet once or twice, one must perform Hag’ala (i.e. immersion in boiling water heated in a pot on the fire) in order to kosher it for Pesach.
Nevertheless, the Rashba (Volume 1, Chapter 372) writes regarding vessels used with cold food or beverages but “sometimes” hot bread is placed in these vessels that thoroughly washing such vessels is sufficient to make them permissible for use on Pesach and one need not perform Hag’ala on them, for the koshering process for each vessel is determined based on its “majority use”. This means that if a vessel or utensil is usually used in a cold manner, even if this vessel was used with hot foods sometimes, merely washing this vessel is sufficient and one need not be concerned that it absorbed Chametz from this one time (or several times). Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 451) rules in accordance with the Rashba’s opinion.
Hagaon Rabbeinu Menachem Azarya of Pano (in his Responsa Chapter 96) likewise rules in accordance with the opinion of the Rashba and rules that as long as the usual usage of the vessel is in a cold manner, such as silver vessels, even if such a vessel absorbed Chametz, one need not perform Hag’ala on it since the status of a vessel is judged based on a majority of its usage.
However, Hagaon Harav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld questions the Rashba’s opinion, as follows: How can we determine a vessel’s status based on its majority usage? It is sufficient for the vessel to absorb Chametz the single time it was used with hot food and it will then release it while in use on Pesach. What then is the logic behind the Rashba’s ruling that we follow a vessel’s majority usage?
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l explains that since the Rashba’s words apply only to a vessel which has not come in contact with hot food for at least twenty-four hours (which is indeed how Rabbeinu Menachem Azarya explains the Rashba explicitly), there is no longer any Torah prohibition to use such a vessel, since any Chametz flavor absorbed in this vessel becomes completely putrid after twenty-four hours. Only our Sages forbade using such a vessel even after twenty-four hours. These same Sages who forbade using such a vessel after twenty-four hours ruled that a vessel’s status is determined based on its majority usage.
(Nevertheless, there are those who say that the rationale of “a vessel’s majority usage” should only be used in a situation of doubt; however, regarding our scenario, we are discussing only a concern of Chametz and not when the vessel actually absorbed Chametz in which case there is certainly room for leniency.)
Thus, halachically speaking, any vessel used with cold food or beverage, such as silver vessels, may be used on Pesach after having been thoroughly cleaned. Even if one is concerned that this vessel was sometimes used with hot Chametz, this poses no concern at all and one may nevertheless use it on Pesach (see Chazon Ovadia-Pesach, page 148)