Kelim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three

 

Mishnah Three

1)      What is meant by a “damaged vessel” (gistera)?  

a)      One whose handles were removed.  

2)      If sharp ends projected from it:

a)      Any part of it which can contain olives contracts impurity by contact, while any impurity opposite an end conveys impurity to the vessel through its air-space,

b)      But any part of it which cannot contain olives contracts impurity by contact, while an impurity opposite an end does not convey impurity through its air-space.

3)      If it was leaning on its side like a kind of cathedra,

a)      Any part of it which can contain olives contracts impurity by contact, while any impurity opposite an end conveys impurity to the vessel through its air-space,

b)      But any part of it which cannot contain olives contracts impurity by contact, while an impurity opposite an end does not convey impurity to the vessel through its air-space.  

4)      Bowls with Korfian [bottoms], and cups with Zidonian bottoms, although they cannot stand unsupported, are susceptible to impurity, because they were originally fashioned in this manner.

 

Explanation

Section one: Yesterday’s mishnah dealt with a damaged vessel called a gistera. A vessel is considered to be a gistera once its handles have fallen off.

Section two: The gistera described here has sharp edges protruding where the handle broke off from the vessel. These sharp edges seem to be on the top of the broken vessel. If these edges are close enough together so that the vessel can still hold olives, then the entire vessel can be defiled by contact on the inside of the vessel. And anything inside the vessel facing the sharp edges will convey impurity through air space, even if it does not come into contact with the vessel. In this case the sharp edges are simply part of the vessel.

However, if the sharp edges are far enough apart so that they cannot hold olives, then they can still become impure through contact, but they cannot become impure by something entering their airspace. In this case the sharp edges are considered to be a handle to the vessel, and handles are not defiled by something that enters their airspace.

Section three: If the gistera was split in two from top to bottom so that it looks like a “cathedra,” a carriage seat with a back and two sides. In other words, one side is open but three sides are closed.

In such a case any part of the vessel that can be used to hold olives, contracts impurity both by contact and by defiling agents entering its airspace. The part of the gistera that cannot contain olives contracts impurity only through contact and not through defiling agents entering its airspace.

Note that this halakhah matches the opinion of the sages in 4:1.

Section four: Korfian bottoms are pointed so that the bowl cannot stand unsupported. So too, Sidonian cups have pointed bottoms. Generally, the “gistera” of a vessel that cannot stand unsupported is not susceptible to impurity. But because these vessels were originally made to be this way, their gisteras are susceptible to impurity.

 

 

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