Kelim, Chapter Nine, Mishnah One
This mishnah deals with a needle or a ring (metal vessels) that are found in certain places, and with the question of whether or not they have become impure.
1) If a needle or a ring was found in the ground of an oven, and they can be seen but they don’t stick out into the oven, if one bakes dough and it touches them, the [oven] is unclean.
2) Regarding which dough did they speak?
a) Medium dough.
3) If they are found in the plaster of an oven with a tightly fitting lid:
a) If the oven is unclean, they are unclean,
b) If the oven is clean, they are clean.
4) If they are found in the stopper of a jar:
a) If on the sides, they are unclean.
b) If opposite the mouth, they are clean.
5) If they can be seen in it, but they do not enter its airspace, they are clean.
6) If they sink into it, and there is [plaster] underneath them as thick as garlic peel, they are clean.
Section one: In this section we don’t know for certain whether or not the needle or the ring is impure, but we have reason to suspect that they might be. They are found in the floor of an oven and can be seen from inside the oven but they do not project into the oven’s air-space. If a person bakes dough and the dough can expand into the hole in the floor in which these instruments are found, the oven is defiled by the needle or ring. In other words, since the dough enters this space, it is considered part of the oven and if a defiling agent is found there, it defiles the oven. If the dough did not touch them, then it would be a sign that the place in which they are found is not considered to be part of the oven.
Section two: The mishnah clarifies that the dough which the mishnah uses as a barometer is of medium elasticity. It is not so soft that it would sink into any hole, nor is it so hard that it wouldn’t sink at all.
Section three: Here we have an oven that has a layer of plaster around its outside. In this layer of plaster the ring and needle are imbedded. The oven is tightly covered and it is found in a building in which a dead body is also located. If the oven is impure, then the needle and ring are impure. An earthenware vessel with a tightly fitting lid prevents impurity from entering, but only if the vessel itself is impure. And since the oven doesn’t prevent impurity, so too anything attached to it doesn’t prevent impurity.
Section four: Now this pesky little ring or needle is found in the stopper of a tightly closed jar, which is also found in a building with a dead person in it. The jar, since it is tightly closed, does prevent impurity from infiltrating but only if the needle or ring is found opposite the mouth of the jar. If it is found on the sides of the stopper, since this is not the part of the stopper used by the jar, it doesn’t count as part of the jar. Thus the needle and ring are defiled.
Section five: If the ring or needle can be seen from the top in the stopper, then they have not gotten into the airspace of the stopper, which is the airspace of the jar. Since they are part of the stopper, they are pure.
Section six: If they are sunken into the stopper, and there is still stopper, even as thin as a peel of garlic, underneath them, then they are pure. However if they have truly entered the jar’s air-space they are impure because an earthenware vessel with a tightly covered lid does not save metal vessels found inside it from being defiled.