Stone Trolley

Keilim (24:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 15 days ago

The twenty-fourth perek of masechet Keilim discusses different types of keilim and teaches that depending on their form and use, they can be susceptible to tumat midras, tumat met or not susceptible to tumah at all. The second Misnah discusses trolleys. The Mishnah teaches that the type of trolly that is not susceptible to tumah is one for transporting large stones. The Bartenura explains that the reason is because the trolley is formed more like a mesh with holes larger than the size of pomegranates. Recall that if a kli was perforated with a hole that size, it is considered broken and no longer susceptible to tumah.

The Bartenura's explanation is based on R' Yochanan's comment in the Gemara (Shabbat 84a), who explains that if the holes in this wagon were less than size of pomegranates, then the trolley would be susceptible to tumah.

The Mishnah Achrona however finds this Gemara difficult. If the trolley was originally design for carrying bricks, the size of the holes should not matter. That is how this kli is designed to function and it should therefore be susceptible to tumah. Indeed, the Rambam rules in line with this logic (Hilchot Keilim 6:3).

Before continuing with the Mishnah Achrona we should include the answer of the Sefat Emet to this question. The Sefat Emet (Shabbat 84a, BeRashi) suggests that indeed it is true that if the kli was designed from the outset to function with such large holes then it is susceptible to tumah. If however the kli itself did not have those holes and was designed to be used in a different capacity and then was perforated such that it is considered broken, repurposing it later to carry stones does not render it a kli -- does not make it susceptible to tumah.1 Our Mishnah would then be discussing such a case.

The Tifferet Yisrael also cites the Rambam, but notes that the Rambam continues that if a kli that was designed with a large hole was a majority torn then it is not susceptible to tumah. The Tifferet Yisrael therefore suggest that in our cases since the trolley is full of such large holes, it is no longer consider a kli or susceptible to tumah.

The Mishnah Achrona however also notes that when this perek discusses the type of keilim that are tahor, it is not because they are broken -- there is specific technical reason. Consequently, it is difficult to understand that the reason why the trolley is tameh is because it has a large hole in it that renders it broken. Furthermore, if that were the case, why did the Mishnah need to list this case as a trolley used for stones? Instead it could have mentioned a generic trolley that has a hole and taught the same law.

The Mishnah Achrona therefore explains that a kli that is susceptible to tumah has beit kibul -- acts as a container. The Mishnah Achrona suggests that it is only considered a beit kibul if it contains it contents along with the base and walls -- much like a sack. A trolley that contains large stones does not need the walls to keep the stones in place, due to their weight. He suggests that when R' Yohanan mentions the size of the holes in the trolley, it is because it is indicative of the size of the stones that it is designed to carry. If the holes were smaller, then it is designed to carry smaller stones and the walls would be required to contain them. That trolley would have a beit kibul and be susceptible to tumah.


1 The Sefat Emet however notes that Rashi (95b, s.v. VeAdayin) and Tosfot (Chulin 55a, s.v. shiuran) disagree and if it was repurposed for large stones it would be susceptible to tumah. He however continues that the explanation could work with the opinion of R' Chananel.

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