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מסכת כלים

פרק יז משנה טז

קנה מאזנים

A beam of a balance scale


and a leveler (this was a tool used with measuring vessels filled with dry goods; if would be slid along the top to remove any excess that was heaped above the rim of the vessel, making the contents level),

שיש בהן בית קבול מתכות

that have a receptacle in them for metal (this would be used to cheat customers, either by creating a hidden imbalance in the scale, or by causing the leveler to dig deeper into the dry goods than it should),


and the carrying pole (used by porters to carry goods on either end of the pole, which was placed over the shoulders)

שיש בו בית קבול מעות

that has in it a receptacle for money (this allowed wages to be hidden from an employer, allowing the porter to falsely claim that he had not been paid),

וקנה של עני

and a stick of a pauper

שיש בו בית קבול מים

that has in it a receptacle for water (to inspire pity, the pauper would claim to be fasting, but would have this hidden supply of water to drink),


and a stick

שיש בו בית קבול

that that has in it a receptacle

מזוזה ומרגליות

for a mezuzah and pearls (smugglers would hide peals in such a stick hidden under a mezuzah, which they would claim to be carrying for protection),

הרי אלו טמאין

these are tamei;

ועל כלן

and on all of them

אמר רבן יוחנן בן זכאי

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai said

אוי לי אם אומר

woe is to me if I say it (as it may give people ideas)

אוי לי אם לא אומר

woe is to me if I don't say it (as it may give people the idea that the Sages were unaware of these contrivances).


משנה יז

תחתית הצורפין

The base of the smiths (this wooden item was used by gold and silversmiths; it had a rim and they did their work upon it so that it would catch any scraps of metal)


is tamei;

ושל נפחין

and of blacksmiths


is tahor (as they did not really intend or care to catch all their scraps);


a sharpening board (a wooden board used to sharpen knives)

שיש בה בית קבול שמן

that has in it a receptacle for oil


is tamei

ושאין בה

and one that does not (have such a receptacle)


is tahor (and we do not worry about confusion between the two types of boards);


a ledger

שיש בה בית קבול שעוה

that has in it a receptacle for wax (this type of ledger had a hollowed-out face filled with wax, and a stylus was used to write in the wax)


is tamei

ושאין בה

and one that does not (and was instead used by writing on it in ink)


is tahor (again, we are not concerned about confusion between the two types);

מחצלת הקש

a straw mat (made for lying on)

ושפופרת הקש

and a straw tube,

רבי עקיבה מטמא

Rabbi Akiva rules are tamei

ורבי יוחנן בן נורי מטהר

and Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri rules are tahor (they argue over whether they are durable enough to be considered utensils);

רבי שמעון אומר

Rabbi Shimon says

אף של פקועות

also of colocynth (a gourd)

כיוצא בהן

is like these (that is, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri have the same disagreement about a utensil made from a hollowed out colocynth);

מחצלת קנים

A mat of reeds

ושל חלף

and of sedge (a type of reed or grass-like plant)


are tahor (from the tumah of contact, but not the tumah of a seat or bed conveyed by a zav or zavvah resting their weight on it);

שפופרת הקנה

a reed tube

שחתכה לקבלה

that was cut to be [used as] a receptacle


is tahor

עד שיוציא את כל הככי

until all of the pith is removed (as otherwise it is not considered finished).