Much of the seventeenth perek discusses shiurim -- unit volumes and dimension of halachic importance. Since most of the shiurim relate to the size or volume of different foods (e.g. olive, egg, etc) and these can come in different sizes, the Mishnah clarifies the intended sizes.
One of the shiurim discussed is the rimon (pomegranate). We learnt in the first Mishnah (17:1) that for wood or leather household utensils that were damaged and perforated, if the size was such that a rimon would fall out, then the kli (utensil) is no long susceptible to tumah.
When the Mishnah (17:4) clarifies the size of the rimonim, it explains that it is three that are connected together. This Mishnah requires further thought. Firstly, all other shiurim mentioned are with respect to a single item, and not three like in our Mishnah (17:5). Furthermore, the next Mishnah continues in the same style as the other shiurim explaining that the rimon referred to in the Mishnayot is a medium sized rimon. What then is the intention in our Mishnah that explains that it is three connected rimonim?
The Rash understands that when considering a vessel that is packed with rimonin, even if the hole at the base is the size of a rimon, none will fall out. Given the pressure between the rimonim, the hole would need to be the size of the three rimon for one to escape. When the Mishnah and Gemara elsewhere refer to the hole being the size of a rimon (singular) that is because it means that itmust be large enough for one to fall out and is not referring to the size of the hole per se.
The Bartenura however explains that when the size of the rimon is used as the shiur for a hole in household keilim, it still only needs to be large enough for one of the three connected rimonim to escape. Nevertheless that hole would still be larger than if the three rimonim were detached.
The Tosfot Yom Tov cites the Tosfot (Eiruvin 4b, s.v. shiurim) who explains in a similar manner to the Bartenura. Our Mishnah is indeed referring to the perforated kli containing the three rimonim attached to one another. The Tosfot understand that the hole must be large enough for all the three to fall out one after the other. Once again this would be larger than if they were detached. The Tosfot assert that the Mishnah cannot mean that the hole must be large enough for three to fall out at the same time, since the Gemara regularly discuss a perforation being the size of a single rimon (singular, see Shabbat 95a, Eiruvin 24a).
The Tosfot also provide an alternative answer. Our Mishnah is not referring to the size of the hole, but rather the size of the rimon. In other words, the medium size rimon are those that grow three together. Those that grow individually are larger, while the ones that grow together in four or more are smaller.
The Raavad explains slightly differently, that when the next Mishnah teaches that the rimon is the medium sized one, it is the medium sized rimon from those rimonim that grow three together. The Tosfot Anshei Shem explains that this difference is important as it is safe from the attack of the Rash. The Rash asks that if we explain that our Mishnah is referring to the size of the rimon then next Mishnah appears to be superfluous. This question would stand against the Tosfot. According to the Raavad however, both Mishnayot are required to identify the size.
Finally, the Tifferet Yisrael presents a novel approach. Thus far we have seen two different approaches. One is that the Mishnah is referring to size of the hole, while the other is that our Mishnah is describing the variety of rimon. The Tifferet Yisrael however understands that we are referring to the size of the kli. In other words, if a households kli can contain three rimonim, then the size of the hole (to render it no longer susceptible to tumah) is a rimon. Any smaller, the shiur would be a kezayit. With this the Tifferet Yisrael explains why the Mishnah open with "The rimonim (plural) that we were referring to" and not "rimon" (singular) as the Mishnah continues when explaining the other shiurim. Firstly the plural usage is defining the size of the kli, and "that we were referring to" refers back to the first Mishnah to qualify that statement that for household keilim the size of the hole is for a rimon to escape. Our Mishnah teaches that that shiur assumes we are dealing with a household kli that is large enough to hold rimonim -- three at least.
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