Hanging Cords

Keilim (15:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 6 years ago

With the beginning of the fifteenth perek we begin learning about other types of keilim –wood, bone and glass. The fourth Mishnah however records a debate about cords or straps connected or looped through keilim, which are used for hanging the kli. R’ Meir understands that in general they are susceptible to tumah. The exceptions are those cords attached to types of sieves. The Tifferet Yisrael explains that in these two cases the cords are detached when needed for other purposes and therefore not considered attached for the purposes of tumah.The Chachamim however understand that in general the cords are tahor.The only exception is when the cords are used when utilising the kli. We shall try to understand this debate.

The Tifferet Yisrael understands that R’ Meir maintains that when attached to the kli,tumah transfers from one to the other. In other words, the debate is regarding whether such a cord is considered a yad –handle. To explain, a yad is considered part of the kli inasmuch as that tumah can be transferred through it to and from the kli. We have learnt that anything attached to a kli becomes tameh like the kli itself. The strap, even though it only functions to serve the kli, since it is permanently attached R’ Meir understands that it is considered a yad. The Chachamim however understand that the above rule only applies if the attachment serves a function when the kli is being used.

The Mishnah Achrona explains this line of reasoning in a similar manner. R’ Meir would understand that even though the cord does not aide a person in when using the kli, since it is used when protecting or hanging up the kli it is considered a yad.The Chachamim however understand that only that which assists a person in using the kli is considered a yad.

*The Mishnah Achrona however rejects this suggestion. As mentioned previously, the fifteenth perek shifts the focus to wooden keilim. The above understanding of the debates is a general one about straps and not specific to wooden keilim. It would therefore appear out of place. Furthermore, the general rule from the above cited Mishnah only applies to those things that are defined as a yad – and everyone agrees that a hanging strap is not considered a yad. For any attachment to be considered a yad* it must assist the user.

The Mishnah Achrona therefore explains that hanging straps were commonplace for wooden keilim and were made of rope or reed. The straps alone are not considered keilim (as mentioned in Mishnah Shabbat). R’ Meir however understands that once the cord is attached and can function as a hanging strap, it is defined as a kli. It is not yad for transferring tumah, but an independent kli that can attract tumah. The Chachamim however disagree

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