Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Two
Most of this mishnah deals with the susceptibility of various types of hooks to impurity.
1) The beam of a wool-combers balance is susceptible to impurity on account of the hooks.
2) And that of a householder, if it has hooks is also susceptible to impurity.
3) The hooks of porters are clean but those of peddlers are susceptible to impurity.
a) Rabbi Judah says: in the case of the peddlers’ [hooks], [the hook] that is in front is susceptible to impurity but that which is behind is clean.
4) The hook of a couch is susceptible to impurity but that of bed poles is clean.
5) [The hook of] a chest is susceptible to impurity but that of a fish trap is clean.
6) That of a table is susceptible to impurity but that of a wooden candlestick is clean.
7) This is the general rule: any hook that is attached to a susceptible vessel is susceptible to impurity, but one that is attached to a vessel that is not susceptible to impurity is clean.
8) All these, however, are by themselves clean.
Section one: Wool-combers’ hooks are used for hanging and weighing wool. Since the hooks are a vessel, they can receive impurity, and by extension, so can the whole beam.
Section two: Generally, the beam that a householder uses to weigh things doesn’t have metal hooks. Therefore, it is not susceptible to impurity. However, if it does have metal hooks, it is susceptible.
Section three: The porters use a beam with hooks attached to carry their load. The hooks are metal and the beam is wood. These hooks are clean, because the main instrument is the beam, and since it is made of wood and has no receptacle, it is pure. In contrast, the hooks used by peddlers have receptacles in which to hang their wares. Therefore, they are susceptible.
Rabbi Judah says that only the front hooks are used to hang the peddlers’ wares, and therefore only they are susceptible.
Sections four-seven: The general rule here explains the particular details in sections 4-6. In all of these cases, as long as the hook is attached to a susceptible vessel, the hook has the status of the vessel and it too is susceptible. However, if the hook is attached to something that cannot become impure (poles, fish-trap or wooden candlestick), it too is pure.
Section eight: When the hooks are not attached to something else, they are clean. There are two possible reasons: 1) they don’t have their own name; 2) they are not usable unless attached to something else.