Kelim, Chapter Twenty-Three, Mishnah Two
Our mishnah discusses a special type of uncleanness called “merkav” which means “riding” as in riding a camel, horse or donkey. This is a type of uncleanness that only a vessel meant to be ridden upon can contract. Mishnah 1:3 made some mention of special characteristics that characterize things that are “merkav.” We shall discuss this more in tomorrow’s mishnah.
1) The following are susceptible to uncleanness as objects that are fit for riding upon (merkav): an Ashkelon donkey belt, a Medean saddle, a camel’s pillow, and a horse-cloth.
2) Rabbi Yose says: a horse-cloth is susceptible to uncleanness as a seat, since people stand on it in the arena.
3) But a saddle of a female camel is susceptible to [sitting] uncleanness.
Section one: The Ashkelon donkey belt and Medean saddle seem to be named after the places in which they are produced. A camel’s pillow is not for the camel to sleep with, but to put on the camel’s back for the comfort of the rider. The horse-cloth is used to cover the horse’s back and on top of it goes the saddle. All of these are meant for riding upon, but they are not directly sat upon.
Section two: Rabbi Yose says that a horse-cloth is susceptible to uncleanness not because it is ridden upon but because it is stood upon when people are in the arena. If a zav stands on something that is susceptible to midras, he gives it sitting (moshav) uncleanness. We shall explain this type of uncleanness in tomorrow’s mishnah.
Section three: All agree that it is customary to sit directly upon the saddle of a female donkey. Therefore, it is susceptible to sitting uncleanness.