Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Eleven



In previous mishnayot we learned all of the halakhot in which the medium measure was used. In today’s mishnah we learned that sometimes smaller measures were used, and sometimes the measure used depended upon the person for whom the halakhah was relevant.


Mishnah Eleven

1)      Sometimes they stated a smaller measure:

a)      Liquid and dry measures  were measured with the Italian standard which was the one that was used in the wilderness.

2)      Sometimes they stated a measure that varied according to the individual concerned:

a)      One who takes the handful of a minhah,

b)      One who takes both hands full of incense,

c)      One who  drinks a cheek full on Yom Kippur,

d)      And the two meals for an eruv,

3)      The quantity being the food one eats on weekdays and not on Shabbat, the words of Rabbi Meir.

a)      Rabbi Judah says: as on Shabbat and not as on weekdays.

b)      And both intended to give the more lenient ruling.

c)      Rabbi Shimon says:   two thirds of a loaf, when three [loaves] are made of a kav.

d)      Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka says:  not less than a loaf that is purchased for a pundium when the price of wheat is four se’ah for a sela’.




Section one: The dry and liquid measures used in the Temple, for instance the measures of wine, oil and flour that accompanied sacrifices (see Menahot 9:1-2) were all measured using an Italian standard that was considered to be the same as that used in the Temple.

Section two: For other halakhot, the size of the measure depends upon the individual person. The mishnah lists four such cases. The first is the priest who removes a handful from the minhah offering (Leviticus 2:2). The size of the handful depends on the person. The same is true with the two handfuls of incense on Yom Kippur (see Leviticus 16:12). If one drinks a cheek full of liquid on Yom Kippur he is liable for karet. The size of this amount obviously depends upon the size of the individual’s cheek. Finally, when it comes to Shabbat border eruvim (an eruv set to allow a person to travel further outside of his city on Shabbat, see Introduction to Eruvin) the food set aside as the eruv must consist of two meals. The amount of food necessary for the meal depends on how much the person setting the eruv eats.

Section four:  The remainder of this mishnah is found in Eruvin. It is clearly brought here because once we mention the amount of food necessary for an eruv meal, the mishnah deals briefly with a debate concerning the issue.

According to Rabbi Meir, the eruv must consist of enough food for two weekday meals.  Rabbi Judah says the food should be enough for Shabbat meals and not weekday meals.  Seemingly we would think that a person eats more on Shabbat than during the week, so Rabbi Judah would be stricter than Rabbi Meir.  However, the mishnah says that both intended to be lenient.  In order to understand this, we need to explain that the eruv’s minimum measurement was set according to the amount of bread eaten at a typical meal.  According to Rabbi Meir, on Shabbat one eats a lot of different types of food and a lot of bread to accompany the food.  Therefore, on Shabbat one eats more, and the minimum amount of food for the eruv is set according to the bread eaten during the week, a lesser amount. According to Rabbi Judah, since on Shabbat there are many side dishes a person eats less bread than he would during the week when there are less side dishes.  Therefore, Rabbi Judah sets the minimum amount of bread for the eruv according to what one eats on Shabbat.

According to Rabbi Shimon, two meals are equivalent to two-thirds of a loaf when three loaves are made from a kav of wheat.  A loaf is therefore 1/3 of a kav and 2/3 of a loaf is two meals.

Rabbi Yohanan ben Baroka gives a minimum amount of bread that must be used for the eruv.  This amount of bread is what is sufficient for two meals.  It is the size of a loaf that can be bought for one pundion (a coin) when 4 se’ah (24 kav, a measure of volume) of wheat are sold for a sela (a coin worth 48 pundion).   If we do the math, we can see that a kav of wheat is bought for two pundionim, meaning that one pundion will buy half a kav of wheat, which according to Rabbi Yohanan ben Baroka is sufficient for two meals.

This is a larger amount than that set by Rabbi Shimon.