Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Six


Mishnah Six

1)      Ordinary harps are susceptible to impurity, but the harps of Levites are clean.   

2)      All liquids are susceptible to impurity, but the liquids in the Temple slaughtering house are clean.

3)      All scrolls convey impurity to the hands, excepting the scroll of the Temple courtyard.   

4)      A wooden toy horse is clean.   

5)      The belly-lute, the donkey-shaped musical instrument and the erus are susceptible to impurity.

a)      Rabbi Judah says: the erus is susceptible to sitting impurity since the wailing woman sits on it.

6)      A weasel-trap is susceptible to impurity, but a mouse- trap is clean.



Section one: According to one explanation of this section, ordinary harps are susceptible because the harp-player sometimes uses certain parts of the harp to collect the coins he receives for playing. The harps used by the Levites do not have places to collect coins, so they are pure.

Section two: The seven main types of liquid are: water, wine, oil, honey, milk, blood and dew. These are all susceptible to impurity and if they moisten food items, the food item becomes susceptible to impurity (we will learn more about this when we learn Tracate Makshirin). The exception is the liquids found in the place in the Temple were they would slaughter. One explanation of this is that the concept of the impurity of liquids is a rabbinic innovation (derabanan).  The Rabbis did not include in this innovation the liquids found in the Temple, so as not to increase the impurity of things found in the Temple (see Eduyot 8:4).

Section three: Sacred scrolls, Torah, Prophets and Writings, convey impurity to the hands of one who handles them. This is a concept we shall discuss when we learn Tractate Yadayim. This is true of all sacred scrolls with one exception—the official copy of the Torah which was held in the Temple.

Section four: Others explain this word (markof) to be a musical instrument made of cedar. In any case, it is pure.

Section five: These are various types of musical instruments. The “belly-lute” rests on the player’s belly. The “donkey-shaped instrument” is, according to one interpretation, carried by clowns on their shoulders. The “erus” is some sort of bell. They are all susceptible to impurity, probably because they all have some sort of receptacle. Rabbi Judah holds that it is also susceptible to sitting-impurity, which means that if someone sits on it, they defile it, even if they don’t touch it.

Section six: One explanation for the difference between the weasel-trap and the mouse-trap is that the former has the shape of a vessel, whereas the latter does not. Others explain that the former has a receptacle, whereas the mouse-trap does not.