Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Two
Today’s mishnah continues to deal with how the box is measured.
1) Its carriage: if it can be slipped off,
a) is not regarded as connected,
b) nor is it included in its measurement,
c) nor does it afford protection together with it in the tent of a corpse,
d) nor may it be drawn along on Shabbat if it contains money.
2) If it cannot be slipped off,
a) it is regarded as connected,
b) it is included in its measurement,
c) it affords protection together with it in the tent of a corpse,
d) it may be drawn along on Shabbat even if it contains money.
3) Its arched top, if it is fixed [to the box], is considered connected and is measured with it, but if it is not fixed it is not connected and is not measured with it.
4) How is it measured? As an ox-head.
5) Rabbi Judah says: if it cannot stand by itself it is clean.
Section one: The word I have translated as “carriage” is interpreted by some to mean the box’s wheels and by others to mean the box’s base. In any case, as we shall see, the rules differ depending on whether the carriage can be detached.
If the carriage can be slipped off then it is not regarded as connected to the box, even when it is connected. This means that its status as far as purity goes is independent of the box. If the box is small enough to become impure, the carriage remains pure. And if the carriage becomes impure, the box is pure. And if the box is too large to become impure, the carriage is still susceptible.
When measuring the size of the box, the carriage is not included, since it can be taken off.
Vessels that are in a box are not defiled if the box is found in the tent of a corpse. However, if the carriage is what separates the vessels from the air of the tent, the carriage does not offer such protection and the vessels will be defiled.
If the carriage has coins it, it may not be drawn on Shabbat because the carriage is the base for an object that cannot be used on Shabbat (the coins).
Section two: If the carriage cannot be slipped off, all of the above halakhot are reversed. It is regarded as connected and therefore has the same purity status as the box. It is measured with the box and it affords protection as if it was part of the box. It can be drawn on Shabbat even though there are coins in it. This is because there are permitted things in the box (clothes, etc.) and when something has permitted and forbidden things in it, it may be moved.
Section three: The box’s arched top is considered to be part of the box only if it is fixed to the box with nails. In such a case its purity status goes with the box itself and it is measured with the box. If it is not nailed to the box, it is not considered part of the box.
Section four: How do they measure the arched top when it measurements are included with the box? They measure it with a sharp angle called “an ox head.” Picture a half circle with a triangle inside it. Whatever is in this triangle is counted as far as the dimensions of the box.
Section five: Rabbi Judah says that if the box cannot stand without the aid of the arched top, then the box is pure even if it cannot contain forty seahs.