Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Four
Today’s mishnah is about the susceptibility to impurity of hangers. These hangers seem to have been attached to vessels and were used to hang the vessels. They don’t seem to be the types of hangers we use today to hang clothes.
1) All hangers are susceptible to impurity, except for those of a sifter and a sieve that are used by householders, the words of Rabbi Meir.
2) But the sages say: all hangers are clean, excepting those of a sifter of flour-dealers, of a sieve used in threshing-floors, of a hand-sickle and of a detective’s staff, since they aid when the instrument is in use.
a) This is the general rule: [a hanger] that is intended to aid when the instrument is in use is susceptible to impurity and one intended to serve only as a hanger is clean.
Section one: According to Rabbi Meir the fact that most hangers are kept on a vessel and are used to hang the vessel is sufficient for them to be considered part of the vessel and therefore susceptible to impurity. The exceptions are the hangers used with sifters and sieves owned by non-professionals. Since these are sometimes removed from the vessel, they do not count as part of the vessel.
Section two: The other sages say that hangers that are used only to hang vessels are not susceptible. In order to be susceptible they must have a use other than hanging. This is the case with the types of hangers mentioned here.
A “detective’s staff” was used by people inspecting produce.
A modern example of such an instrument might be an umbrella. Its “hanger” is also used as its handle.
The sages conclude their section with the general principle which serves as the basis for their halakhah.