Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah One
Today’s mishnah deals with the minimum size that broken pieces of metals vessels need to be in order for them to be susceptible to impurity or for them to still retain the impurity that they already have.
1) What is the minimum size of [broken] metal vessels [for them to be susceptible to impurity]?
a) A bucket must be of such a size as to draw water with it.
b) A kettle must be such as water can be heated in it.
c) A boiler, such as can hold selas.
d) A cauldron, such as can hold jugs.
e) Jugs, such as can hold perutahs.
f) Wine-measures, such as can measure wine; and oil-measures, such as can measure oil.
2) Rabbi Eliezer says: the size for all these is such as can hold perutahs.
3) Rabbi Akiva says: a vessel that lacks trimming is susceptible to impurity, but one that lacks polishing is clean.
Section one: A bucket is used to draw water, therefore if a piece remains that is large enough to do so, it is still susceptible.
A broken piece of a kettle must still be large enough to heat up water.
A boiler must still be large enough to hold the hot stones that are thrown in to aid in heating up its contents.
A cauldron was a large pot used to hold smaller jugs.
The broken pieces of the jugs must be large enough to hold perutahs, which are small coins.
Wine and oil measures must still be large enough to hold either wine or oil.
We can see that the general rule is quite simple: the broken piece must still be able to perform at least some of its former functions.
Section two: Rabbi Eliezer rules differently and more strictly. With regard to any of these vessels, as long as they can hold perutahs, meaning as long as what remains of them is large enough to hold basically anything, they are still susceptible.
Section three: Rabbi Akiva says that if the broken vessel lacks decorative aspects, then it is still susceptible to impurity because the decoration is not necessary for its functioning. However, polishing is necessary for a metal vessel to be used. Therefore, if the broken piece of metal vessel needs to be polished it is clean.