Kelim, Chapter Three, Mishnah One
As we have learned previously, if an earthenware vessel is broken, it becomes clean. “Broken” would include a vessel that has a hole in it. The general rule is that if the hole is large enough to make the vessel unusable, it is clean.
Our mishnah begins discussing how large the holes need to be in various vessels for them to be rendered pure.
The size of a hole that renders an earthen vessel clean:
1) If the vessel was made for food, the hole must be big enough for olives [to fall through].
2) If it was used for liquids it suffices for the hole to be big enough for liquids [to go through it].
3) And if it was used for both, we apply the greater stringency, that olives must be able to fall through.
Section one: If the vessel was made to hold food, it is impure until the hole is big enough to let out olives. Olive’s are often the standard size used in food measures.
Section two: If the vessel was used for liquids, then the hole must be large enough to let the liquids escape.
Section three: If a vessel was used for both food and liquids, then the rule is stringent. If the hole is big enough to let out liquid but not food then the vessel is still partially usable, so the vessel is still susceptible to impurity.