An Animal’s Keilim

Keilim (20:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 9 years ago

The Mishnah(20:4) deals with a large trough that had a sizeable puncture. One of the laws taught is that if it was modified to be used as an animal’s trough, it is once again susceptible to tumah. It continues that even if it was fixed to the wall, it remains susceptible to *tumah.*The Bartenura explains that even though ordinarily, keilim that are fixed to the ground are *tahor,*that is only if they were either fixed to the ground from the outset or they were design to serve the ground. 

The Tifferet Yisrael questions how the trough can be susceptible to *tumah.*We have learnt (12:1) that keilim that serve animals are not susceptible to *tumah.*One might suggest that this case is different since it has a beit kibul, it can act as a receptacle. He dismisses this by citing the Gemara (Shabbat 59a) that explains that the reason that a horse’s shoe is susceptible to tumah is because troops would use it as a cup in times of war. This implies that being a receptacle is not enough; it must have a use for humans. Furthermore, the fact that Rashi there comments that this horse shoe was used to protect the horse’s hooves and not just for decoration means that it is not just keilim that are ornamental, but all keilim that serve animals are not susceptible to tumah

The Tifferet Yisrael further asserts that it would be a stretch to suggest that in this case the trough is susceptible to tumah since it is also fit for human use – the owner can use it to provide food for his workers.

The Tifferet Yisrael suggests that the principle that an animal’s utensils are not susceptible to* tumah* is when the animal would be fine without it. The clearest case is when the kli is decorative. Another case that would qualify, as we have learnt, is if it is protective, like the horse’s shoe. If however the kli was made to assist a person in utilising the animal, the law would be different. In such a case the kli would be defined as a tashmish adam – as having a use for a person and therefore susceptible to tumah. The fact that an animal also happens to use it should not have any bearing on the issue.

He cites the Gemara (Shabbat 52a) that makes a similar distinction. The Gemara questions why the Mishnah effectively rules that an animal’s ring is susceptible to tumah (which appears to contradict the general rule regarding animals’ adornments). R’ Yosef responds that ring referred to in the Mishnah is used by a person to pull the animal. The Tifferet Yisrael understands therefore, that a kli behama that has a use for a person is susceptible to tumah. (He cites further proofs.)

The Tifferet Yisrael concludes that the same would be true in our case. The animals in our case do not need a trough. They could just as happily eat from the floor. It is in the interest of the owner to use it so that the food will not become scattered everywhere. Consequently it serves a person and is therefore susceptible to tumah.


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