Makhshirin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three

 

Mishnah Three

1)      Two pools, the one clean and the other unclean:

a)      The sweat near the unclean pool is unclean,

b)      And the sweat near the clean pool is clean,

c)      And what is at equal distance [from both pools] is unclean.  

2)      Unclean iron was smelted with clean iron:

a)      If the greater part [came] from the unclean iron, it is unclean;

b)      If the greater part [came] from the clean iron, it is clean;

c)      But if there was half of each, it is unclean.

3)      Pots owned by Israelites and non-Jews used for passing water:

a)      If the greater part is from the unclean [urine], it is unclean;

b)      If the greater part is from the clean [urine], it is clean;

c)      But if there was half of each, it is unclean.

4)      Waste-water, in which rain had fallen:

a)      If the greater part consisted of the unclean water, it is unclean;

b)      If the greater part consisted of clean water, it is clean;

c)      But if there was half of each, it is unclean.

5)      When [is this the case]?  

a)      When the waste-water came first; but if the rain water came before [the waste-water], it is unclean whatever the quantity [of the rain water].

 

Explanation

Section one: Things that sweat and are closer to the unclean pool are considered unclean, for we assume that the sweat came from the unclean pool. The same is true in the opposite case.

If something was right in the middle of the two, the ruling is stringent due to the doubt, and the sweat must be considered unclean.

Section two: The mishnah now goes on to consider other cases which have the same literary structure as section one. This structure will continue through the end of the chapter, and will cover topics that diverge from the main topic at hand—the ability of liquids to cause susceptibility to impurity.

The first topic at hand concerns pure and impure iron that have been smelted together. The status follows the majority and if they are of equal amount, the rule is stringent.

Section three: Jewish urine is considered clean but gentile urine is considered impure due to rabbinic law (see Niddah 4:3). In this case, if the mixture is equal, then the rule is lenient because the impurity of gentile urine is only derabanan (bet you never thought you’d be reading about that!).

Section four: Waste-water is assumed to be impure. Again, the rule follows the majority and if they are of equal amount the rule is stringent.

Section five: The above is true if the waste-water was there first. In such a case, the rainwater went into the vessel against his wishes and therefore this water is not susceptible to impurity. If there is a majority of rainwater the whole vessel will be pure. However, if the rainwater went in first, then he was probably collecting it, and it went in to his desire. In such a case, the rainwater is susceptible to impurity. When any amount of waste-water falls in, it will defile it.

 

 

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