Purifying the Outside of a Kil

Keilim (25:3) | Yisrael Bankier | 7 days ago

The twenty-fifth perek discusses keilim that have an "inside and outside". The distinction is important if liquids that become tameh by being in contact with a source of tumah came into contact these keilim. Recall that that for tameh liquids their ability to make keilim tameh is rabbinic. Consequently, so that this point is known, they differentiated between whether the tumah came into contact with the inside of the kli or outside. If it landed in the inside, the entire would be tameh (albeit rabbinically). If however it touched the outside of the kli only the outside would be tameh. We have discussed this gezeira in more detail in the past (Volume 6, Issue 15). In this issue however we shall discuss its purification.

The third Mishnah discusses a number of keilim whose "outside", or base, could also serve as a receptacle if turned over and debated whether the distinction of outside and inside would still apply to those keilim. The third opinion, R' Shimon, argues the law would still apply. Nevertheless, he maintains that if the outside became tameh the entire kli would require immersion in the mikveh.

The Tifferet Yisrael understands that according to R' Shimon, if the outside of a simple kli became tameh then only the outside of the kli would require immersion. This is the opinion of the Rosh.

The Mishneh LeMelech however understands that R' Shimon would agree that a regular kli would also require complete immersion. He draw our attention to the next Mishnah regarding the case of the single kli that consisted of two measuring containers -- the rova and chatzi rova -- where the Mishnah rules that one container is considered the outside of the other. In that case the Mishnah rules that if one of the containers becomes tameh, while the other remains tahor, the entire kli requires immersion.

The Tifferet Yisrael (Boaz 6) suggest that this would be in accordance with the Sifra cited by the Rosh (Mikvaot 7:7) that connects the immersion of keilim to the purification of people. Since the latter requires complete immersion, so do keilim.

The Tifferet Yisrael however suggests that perhaps the above Sifra only applies to keilim that become tameh by way of tumah of a biblical origin. For those of a rabbinic nature, perhaps the Chachamim ruled that it was sufficient to immerse just the outside. The Tifferet Yisrael cites the Gemara (Zevachim 78a) as proof that this is indeed the case.1

The Mishnah Achrona also asserts that in general only the outside would require immersion. Otherwise, what is the debate between R' Shimon and R' Meir in this Mishnah? Why would R' Meir be more lenient in this case? It makes more sense to say that it is R' Shimon being more stringent in our case than a regular kli considering that the kli's outside can also act as a receptacle.

The Mishnah Achrona also dismiss the Mishneh Lemelech's proof of the rova and chatzi rova since in that case, both containers are of primary use. Consequently, if one became tameh, then one is not allowed to use the other in case the tameh side is used by mistake. The Chachamim therefore required complete immersion to ensure that no part of the kli may be used.


1 The Sidrei Tahorot also cites this Gemara as a proof. Considering it is a Gemara, the Sidrei Taharot is unsure why the Rosh uses the term "nire" -- it appears -- when expressing his position.

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