Kelim, Chapter Twenty-Four, Mishnah Seventeen
The last mishnah of this chapter (yes, we made it there) ostensibly follows the same literary pattern as the first sixteen mishnayot. It begins with the words “there are three types of ” However, the internal structure is quite different. The topic is baskets that are attached to other baskets in cases where one basket is pure and one is impure.
1) There are three different types of baskets:
a) If a worn-out basket is patched on to a sound one, all is determined by the sound one;
b) If a small basket is patched on to a large one all is determined by the large one;
c) If they are equal all is determined by the inner one.
2) Rabbi Shimon says: if the cup of a balance was patched on to the bottom of a boiler on the inside, the latter becomes unclean; but if on the outside it remains clean.
a) If it was patched on to the side, whether on the inside or the outside, it remains clean.
Section one: Whereas in the previous sixteen mishnayot the “three different types of x” meant that one was subject to midras impurity, one to corpse impurity and one was pure, today’s mishnah deals with three possible results of one basket being attached to another. If a worn-out basket is attached to a sound one, the purity/impurity is determined by the sound basket, because that is the basket that is essential. Thus is the sound basket is pure, both are pure, and if the sound basket is impure, both are impure. Similarly, if a small basket is attached to a large basket, the status of the large basket determines the purity/impurity of both baskets. If both baskets are equal in size and soundness, then the inner basket is the one that is essentially used so it determines the purity status. If the inner one is pure, both are pure and if the inner one is impure, both are impure.
Section two: Rabbi Shimon extends the principle learned above. If an impure cup of a balance was patched on to the inside of a hot water boiler then the cup has the status of the “inside” vessel and the entire apparatus is impure. However, if the cup is patched onto the side of the hot water boiler, then the boiler is considered the inside vessel and the entire apparatus is pure. This is true even if the cup is inside the boiler. Since it is not attached to the bottom, it is not the main part and the boiler determines the status of the cup.