Kelim, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

This mishnah contains four debates between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Shimon concerning the purity of the props used to support either the stove or the pot that rests on top of the stove.

The basis for this debate seems to be the same in all four cases. If the props are not considered to be attached to the stove, Rabbi Meir holds that they are still susceptible to the stove’s impurity, but just to a lesser extent. Rabbi Shimon holds that the props are not susceptible at all.  

 

Mishnah Five

1)      If one of them [i.e. the props] was removed, the remaining ones contract impurity by contact but not through air-space, the words of Rabbi Meir.

a)      Rabbi Shimon says that they are clean.

2)      If originally he made two props, one opposite the other, they contract impurity by contact and through air-space; the words of Rabbi Meir.

a)      Rabbi Shimon says that they are clean.

3)      If they were more than three fingerbreadths high, the parts that are three fingerbreadths high and below contract impurity by contact and through air-space but the parts that are more than three fingerbreadths high contract impurity by contact and not through air-space; the words of Rabbi Meir.

a)      Rabbi Shimon says that they are clean.

4)      If they were withdrawn from the rim [of the stove], the parts which are within three fingerbreadths contract impurity by contact and through air-space, and those parts that are removed more than three fingerbreadths contract impurity by contact but not through air-space, the words of Rabbi Meir.

a)      Rabbi Shimon says that they are clean.

 

Explanation

Section one: If one of the props is removed, leaving two props, Rabbi Meir holds that they are still susceptible to impurity but only through contact and not through airspace. This means that if the oven is defiled through its airspace, the props remain pure, but if the oven is defiled by contact, the props are impure. In contrast, Rabbi Shimon considers the props to be separate from the stove and therefore pure even if the stove contracts impurity through contact.

Section two: If he originally made two props but he made them opposite each other so that he could rest a pot on them, Rabbi Meir holds that they are fully susceptible to impurity, both through airspace and contact. We should note that there is a variant reading of this section, according to which these props are susceptible to impurity only through contact and not through airspace (making this section consistent with the others). Rabbi Shimon considers this to be the same as the previous case, and the props are pure.

Section three: In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that if the props were less than three fingerbreadths high, they are susceptible to the stove’s impurity. If they are more than three fingerbreadths high, then according to Rabbi Meir we draw an imaginary line three fingerbreadths over the stove. Above this line the props are susceptible to the impurity of the stove, but only if the stove contracts impurity through contact. Below the line, the props are fully susceptible. Rabbi Shimon considers these oversized props to be independent of the stove and therefore any part above three fingerbreadths is completely unsusceptible to impurity.

Section four: If the props were moved away from the stove by a distance of less than three fingerbreadths they are still fully susceptible to impurity. If they were removed by a greater distance, Rabbi Meir holds that they are still susceptible but only through contact and not through airspace. Again, Rabbi Shimon holds that since these props are considered to be unattached from the stove, they are pure.

 

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