Kelim, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two


Mishnah Two

1)      A jar: the size of the hole must be such that a dried fig [will fall through], the words of Rabbi Shimon.

a)      Rabbi Judah said: walnuts. 

b)      Rabbi Meir said: olives. 

2)      A stew-pot or a cooking pot: such that olives [will fall through].

3)      A bucket and a pitcher: such that oil [will fall through].

4)      A tzartzur: such that water [will fall through]. 

5)      Rabbi Shimon says: in the case of all three, [the hole] must be such that seedlings [will fall through].

6)      A lamp: the size of the hole must be such that oil [will fall through]. 

a)      Rabbi Eliezer says: such that a small perutah [will fall through]. 

7)      A lamp whose nozzle has been removed is clean.  

8)      And one made of earth whose nozzle has been burned by the wick is also clean.



Section one: There are three different opinions as to how big the hole in a jar must be for the jar to become pure: big enough to let fall through, dried figs, walnuts or olives. Of these three the fig is the largest, then the walnut then the olives. So Rabbi Meir is the most lenient (the jar is pure even if it can still hold figs or walnuts) and Rabbi Shimon is the most stringent (the jar is impure until it can no longer hold even the larger figs).

Sections three and four: This section lists vessels used for liquids. Since the bucket and the pitcher are usually used for oil, the hole must be big enough to let out oil, which flows thickly and contains considerable sediment.

As I explained in 2:8, a tzartzur is some sort of bottle whose mouth is covered with netting made of earthenware. It is pure once it can no longer hold water. It seems that such a vessel was usually used to hold water. This is a smaller hole than the one required to purify the bucket or the pitcher.

Section five: Rabbi Shimon refers to the vessels mentioned in sections three and four. While the earlier opinion held that when these vessels can no longer hold liquid they are pure, Rabbi Shimon is more stringent and holds that the hole must be large enough to let out seedlings. If the vessel cannot be hold oil/water but can still be used for seedlings, it is still impure or at least susceptible to impurity.

Section six: There is a debate about the hole needed to render a lamp pure. According to the first opinion, since a lamp usually holds oil, the measure of the hole is such to hold in oil. If it no longer holds in oil it is unusable and therefore pure. Rabbi Eliezer is more stringent and holds that the hole must be sufficient to let out a small coin (a perutah). It seems that according to Rabbi Eliezer, lamps are occasionally used to store such coins, and therefore they continue to be useful until even small coins fall out.

Section seven: Since the mishnah began to discuss lamps, we have a small digression on the purity of lamps (sounds like the title of a nineteenth century book “A Small Digression on the Purity of Lamps”). If the nozzle, the place where the wick rests, of a lamp is removed, the lamp can no longer be used and it is pure.

Section eight: A lamp made of earth must be forged for it to become susceptible to impurity. Forging is the completion of its manufacturing process and vessels are generally not susceptible to impurity until they have been completed. If the nozzle has been burned by the heat of the fire of the wick, the lamp’s manufacturing is still not complete and therefore the lamp is pure.