According to Hezekiah, if one puts something in a ministering vessel without intending to use it for a sanctified purpose (or at least not immediately) it does not become holy. Thus the water was not actually sanctified. So why then did they still bring it in a non-sanctified vessel? Lest someone see them bring the water in the vessel and assume that there was intention to use it (immediately) for holy purposes. Then the person would think that something that had been left overnight in the Temple could be used for sacrificial purposes.
R. Yannai said that even if the water was not actually sanctified by being put in a sanctified vessel, people might mistakenly think that the water was set aside for use in washing the feet and hands of the High Priest. Such water is put into a sanctified vessel before it is poured over the feet and hands. Then when it spends the night in the Temple, people will mistakenly think that such water is not disqualified.
The mishnah ruled that if the water left over in the Temple was uncovered, it cannot be used the next day in the Temple. The reason is that we are concerned that a snake might have put its poison into it. In general it is forbidden to ever drink water that was left uncovered and unwatched. Our section discusses this subject.
The Talmud questions why we couldn’t just filter the water to remove the snake’s venom (I know this sounds unlikely). The Talmud cites a baraita which describes a liquid that has passed through a strainer. According to the first opinion, the strainer does not remove the poison, and therefore the water in the lower vessel remains forbidden. R. Nehemiah says that this is true only if the water in the lower receptacle was uncovered. If the lower receptacle was covered, the water in it is permitted because the strainer would remove the poison. The poison of a snake is like a fungus that remains floating on the surface of the water.
The fact that the mishnah does not advocate using a strainer implies that a strainer would not remove the poison, like the first opinion in this baraita.
The Talmud says that the mishnah might even follow R. Nehemiah. R. Nehemiah allows one to strain water for regular ordinary drinking. But not for holy purposes. For as the prophet Malakhi states, when it comes giving something to God, one must be extra cautious, and give only the best items. Not just the minimum things that a person himself would normally eat.
And that my friends, is the end of this chapter. Congrats! One more to go and we’ll have finished Daf Shevui’s first tractate.
The fifth chapter of Sukkah is all about the Temple celebration known as the Simhat Bet Hashoevah.
The mishnah refers to a flute that was played during the Simchat Bet Hashoevah. This celebration would only take place on five or six days because it did not override Shabbat or the festival day. So if the first day of Sukkot and Shabbat coincided, then it would happen for six days; if not for only five. Interestingly, in the descriptions of the Bet Hashoevah that follow, the flute is no longer present.