Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Twelve



This mishnah describes six cases in which a large measure was the standard.


Mishnah Twelve

And sometimes  they stated a large measure:

1)      A ladleful of corpse mould  refers to the big ladle of physicians;

2)      The split bean in the case of skin disease  refers to the Cilician kind;

3)      One who eats on Yom Kippur a quantity of the bulk of a large date, refers to the size of the date and its pit;

4)      In the case of skins of wine and oil [the holes]   must be as big as their large stopper;

5)      In the case of a light hole that was not made by man’s hands  the prescribed size of  which  is that of a large fist, the reference is to the fist of Ben Batiah    

a)      Rabbi Yose said: and it is as big as a large human head.

6)      And in the case of one made by human hands the prescribed size  is that of the  large drill in the Temple chamber which is the size of the Italian pondium or the Neronian sela  or like the hole in a yoke. 



Section one: Decomposing dead bodies and their rot can cause defilement within a tent. However, there must be a minimum amount of material for this defilement to spread. The minimum amount is a ladleful. The size of the ladle for this halakhah is the large ladle used by physicians.

Section two: For a spot of skin disease to defile it must be the size of a split bean. The split bean referred to in this halakhah is of the Cilician kind (a region in Asia Minor). Evidently, this is a largish bean.

Section three: One who eats a quantity of food equivalent to a large date and its pit on Yom Kippur is liable for karet.

Section four:  If skins containing wine and oil have holes that are as large as their large stopper they are pure.

Section five:  The last two sections are relevant to the laws concerning purity in tents. If a dead body is in one room vessels in another room are clean, unless there is some way for the impurity from the first room to get into the second room. If there is a hole in the wall, one not made by a person, and it lets in light from one room to the other, it allows impurity to travel to the second room if the hole is the size of a large fist. The large fist referred to here is the first of Ben Batiah. Albeck explains that this man was known for having large fists—thanks Albeck! Rabbi Yose says that his fist was as large as a human head. Don King would be very excited.

Section six: The measure is smaller if the hole was made by human hands. In such a case if the hole is the size of the large drill used to make holes in the Temple, then it conveys impurity. This drill, the mishnah notes, was the size if the Italian pundion coin, or the Neronian sela coin, or the hole put in a yoke in which the straps were placed. All three of these measures (the pundion, the sela and the hole in the yoke) are the same size.