Makhshirin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four

 

Mishnah Four

1)      If one sprinkled [the floor of] his house [with water] and put wheat therein and it became moist:

a)      If [the moisture came] from the water, it comes under the law of ‘if water be put’;

b)      But if [the moisture came] from the stones [on the floor], it does not come under the law of ‘if water be put’.

2)      If one washed his garment in a tub and put wheat therein and it became moist:

a)      If [the moisture came] from the water, it comes under the law of ‘if water be put’;

b)      But if [the moisture came] of itself, it does not come under the law of ‘if water be put’.

3)      If one put [produce] in sand for it to become moist, this comes under the law of ‘if water be put’.

a)      It happened with the men of Mahoz   that they used to moisten [their produce] with sand, and the sages said to them: if you have always acted in this manner, you have never prepared your food in purity.  

 

Explanation

Section one: In mishnaic times people would sprinkle their floors with water in order to keep down the dust. A person did this and then put wheat on the floor (or it just got there somehow) and the wheat got moist. If the moisture came from the water he sprinkled on the floor then the wheat is susceptible to impurity because a person put the water there. If the moisture came from moisture that naturally accumulated on the floor then it is not susceptible to impurity because no one put that water there.

Section two: The same rule basically applies to someone who puts wheat in a laundry trough (after he has completed the laundry). If the wheat became moist due to the water that he put there, the wheat is susceptible.

Section three: In this case, although no one put the water into the sand, since he intended the produce to become wet, it is susceptible. In other words, from this mishnah we can see two possibilities for when liquid causes susceptibility to impurity. 1) If a person put the liquid where it currently is. 2) If he wanted the produce to come into contact with the liquid. As long as one of these is true, the produce is susceptible.

Evidently, the people of Mahoz, a sandy region (see Mishnah Arakhin 3:2), were doing this their whole lives without knowing that this would cause their food to be susceptible. Poor guys!

 

 

 

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