Kelim, Chapter Twenty-Nine, Mishnah Eight


Mishnah Eight

1)      The remnant of the shaft of an ox-goad at its lower end is regarded as connected up to a length of seven handbreadths.

2)      The shaft of a householders’ shovel —

a)      Bet Shammai says: to a  length of seven handbreadths,

b)      And Bet Hillel says: eight handbreadths.

3)      That of the plasterers:

a)      Bet Shammai says: nine handbreadths

b)      And Bet Hillel says: ten handbreadths.

4)      Any parts exceeding these lengths, if he wanted to retain it, is also susceptible to uncleanness.     

5)      The shafts of fire instruments are susceptible to uncleanness whatsoever their length. 



Section one: Concerning the ox-goad, see yesterday’s mishnah. Yesterday’s mishnah referred to the upper end, whereas today’s mishnah refers to the lower end.

Section two: The next two sections contain disputes between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel concerning the length of the shaft of different types of shovels. It is curious that the two houses have not had any disputes until the end of this chapter. I would imagine that indeed they did dispute many other vessels mentioned in this chapter, but for some reason the editors of the Mishnah did not preserve their disputes.

Section four: The lengths of the shafts or cords for all of the vessels mentioned in this chapter are default lengths. What this means is that up to such a length is always susceptible to impurity and we can assume that beyond that length is pure, because the person doesn’t really want the cord or shaft to extend beyond that length. However, as this section notes, if one does want to retain the shaft or cord for a greater length, then whatever he wants to retain is susceptible to impurity. In other words, his personal intention can supersede the default.

Section five: It is understandable why one might want a very long handle on an instrument used with fire. Therefore, the handle is susceptible to impurity for as long as it might be.

[By the way—you just finished the chapter. Only one more chapter to go—four days!]