Kelim, Chapte Sixteen, Mishnah Five
Our mishnah continues to deal with the case of basketsyou might call it another basketcase! (I know, this was not good, but I couldn’t resist).
1) A basket [for figs] is susceptible to uncleanness but a basket for wheat is clean.
2) Small baskets made of leaves are clean, but those made of branches are susceptible to uncleanness.
3) The palm wrapping [in which dates are left] and into which they can be easily put and from which they can easily be taken out is susceptible to uncleanness, but if this cannot be done without tearing it or undoing it, it is clean.
Section one: The basket for figs is considered to be a vessel and therefore it is susceptible to impurity. But the basket for wheat is not usually moved, and therefore it is not susceptible.
Section two: The small baskets made of leaves are clean because they are only used in a temporary fashion, and therefore they don’t have the status of “vessel.” However, if the same basket is made of branches, it is more permanent and it does have the status of vessel.
Section three: To aid in the ripening of dates, they would wrap them in the leaves of the palm tree. If this wrapping had an opening which made it easy to add and remove dates, then it is considered a vessel and it is susceptible to impurity. However, if in order to remove or add dates one had to tear or undo the wrapping, then it is not a vessel.
This seems to me analogous to some of the items we use on a daily basis. If one has to tear a wrapper, then it’s not a vessel, because it can’t be reused. But if one can easily open a lid, then the container has at least the potential to be used again in the future.