Mishnayos Yadayim Perek 1

Color Code: Case: Black; Ruling: Green or Red; Name of Tanna: Gold; Reason: Blue; Condition: Purple; Proof: Grey ; Rule: Fuscia

Chapter 1

The first Chapter of Mesechtas Yadayim will discuss many of the technical requirements for washing one's hands, including how much water is required, what type of water and what to do about the residual water.

Mishnah 1:1

The first Mishna of the Mesechta describes the amount of water that is needed for Netilas Yadayim when more than one than one person wants to rinse their hands at the same time. The basic Halachik unit of liquid measurement is a Revi'is,* approximately 4oz and everyone agrees you must start off with a Revi'is of water in the utensil. The question being debated in the Mishna is whether each person desiring to rinse their hands at that time requires his own separate Revi'is. Or, is it sufficient that the cup only initially hold a Revi'is of water even if after the first person washes their hands less than a Revi'is remains.

The water left in the utensil after the first rinse is called שיירי טהרה (water remaining from a Revi'is). The reason שיירי טהרה works is since the water started off טהור in the utensil, it remains pure even though less than a Revi'is remains. Everyone, however, agrees that the remaining water, even if less than a Revi'is must be sufficient to appropriately cover his hands.

The last case of the Mishna discusses a more fundamental question: when purifying one's hands how many times must a person actually rinse his hands. As is commonly known, we generally rinse each of our hands twice. This rule is more fully discussed in the second chapter. Our Mishna concerns itself with what happens when rinsing your hands it turns out there is not enough water to fully cover your hand. May you simply add more water to the utensil in middle of the process and continue where you left off or must you start over? Does it make a difference whether we are discussing the first rinse or the second?

* In addition to being the requisite amount of water needed for Netilas Yadayim, this measurement is used to assess violations of Shabbos (Shabbos 8:1), as the smallest measure of liquid for use in the Beis HaMikdash (Menachos 9:2-3) and, if impure, to convey Tumah to a person (Meilah 4:5 and Mikvaot 10:7).

מֵי רְבִיעִית נוֹתְנִין לַיָּדַיִם, לְאֶחָד, אַף לִשְׁנַיִם.

מַחֲצִית לֹג, לִשְׁלשָׁה אוֹ לְאַרְבָּעָה.

מִלֹּג, לַחֲמִשָּׁה וְלַעֲשָׂרָה וּלְמֵאָה.
רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יִפְחֹת לָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁבָּהֶם מֵרְבִיעִית.
מוֹסִיפִין עַל הַשְּׁנִיִּים וְאֵין מוֹסִיפִין עַל הָרִאשׁוֹנִים:

(1) [A minimum of] a quarter [of a log] of water must be poured over the hands for one [person] and even for two. A minimum of half a log must be poured over the hands for three or four persons. A minimum of one log [is sufficient] for five, ten, or one hundred persons. Rabbi Yose says: as long as there is not less than a quarter of a log left for the last person among them. More [water] may be added to the second water, but more may not be added to the first water.

Mishnah 1:2

Keilim, utensils or vessels, play an important role in everyday life. We use them for food preparation, work, play and other household necessities and comforts. For the most part, we do not give much thought to them, their material makeup, their usefulness or their state of being. Nevertheless, from a Halachik perspective these are important attributes to be considered.

First, the material makeup of the Keili will determine whether it is susceptible to Tumah and whether and how one can purify such a Keili. For instance, stone Keilim* cannot contract Tumah, metal and wood Keilim may be purified by dipping them in a Mikvah and earthenware Keilim, while they can only contract Tumah from their inner space, once Tamei, can never be purified and must be shattered.

Second, determining when an item can be designated or undesignated as a Keili will vary. At what stage in its formation process will an item become a Keili? Does being a Keili require that the utensil have a receptacle? If a Keili's primary purpose can no longer be fulfilled, does the fact that a secondary purpose exist allow it to retain its status as a Keili? At what point in its decommission will a Keili no longer be a Keili?

The designation as a Keili is most relevant within the realm of Tumah and Taharah but also play a part in the rules of Shabbos. When it comes to the later, generally speaking, if an item is deemed a Keili and is used for a non-prohibited purpose, it may be utilized on Shabbos (See Shabbos 17:1).** When it comes to Tumah and Taharah, we can identify a number of applications for which a designation as a Keili is material.

First, a number of purification rituals (e.g., מצורע, קידוש ידיים, פרה אדומה) require that the water be held in a Keili. This, of course is the topic of our Mishnah.*** Second, when filling a Mikvah, one must be careful not to fill it with "drawn water," i.e., water that is contained in a Keili (Mikvaos 4:1). Third, is the power of a tightly sealed Keili (usually a earthenware vessel (כלי חרס)) to protect its contents against Tumas Meis (Keilim 10:1).

Our Mishnah begins by stating that all manifestations of Keilim may be used for Netillas Yadayim, even those that are unable to contract Tumah. Meaning, ability to contract Tumah is not a prerequisite to being designated a Keili. But a Keili must be used. Broken shards or parts of Keilim are not valid not is running your hands under a spout or using the cupped hands of a friend.

The last part of the Mishna discusses the power of an earthenware vessel to protect against Tumas Meis and adds one additional protection. Typically anything that enters the airspace of an earthenware vessel will become Tamei (assuming there is a source of Tumah in the vessel--e.g., a dead rodent falls into an oven) even if it does not touch the vessel. However, if there is food contained in a second vessel and that כלי falls within the airspace of the first vessel, it can protect the contents (as long as the lip of the second vessel remains above the lip of the first כלי).

* The Mishnah uses the term Kli Gelalim, which is usually interpreted as vessels made of dung. However, R' Yakov Emden defines these as vessels made of marble based on the verse in Ezra (6:4).

**Whether the designation as a Keili is identical for both these purposes is the subject of a dispute in the Talmud, Shabbos 123a.

***Our Mishnah is found almost verbatim in Parah 5:5. It is most likely the source for our Mishnah. Yair Furstenberg, Purity and Community in Antiquity: Traditions of the Law from Second Temple Judaism to the Mishnah, Magnes Press 2016 (Hebrew) pp.370-377).

בְּכָל הַכֵּלִים נוֹתְנִין לַיָּדַיִם, אֲפִלּוּ

בִכְלֵי גְלָלִים, בִּכְלֵי אֲבָנִים, בִּכְלֵי אֲדָמָה.
אֵין נוֹתְנִין לַיָּדַיִם,

לֹא בְדָפְנוֹת הַכֵּלִים, וְלֹא בְשׁוּלֵי הַמַּחַץ, וְלֹא בִמְגוּפַת הֶחָבִית.
וְלֹא יִתֵּן לַחֲבֵרוֹ בְחָפְנָיו,
מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין מְמַלְּאִין וְאֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין וְאֵין מַזִּין מֵי חַטָּאת וְאֵין נוֹתְנִים לַיָּדַיִם אֶלָּא בִכְלִי.
וְאֵין מַצִּילִין בְּצָמִיד פָּתִיל אֶלָּא כֵלִים, שֶׁאֵין מַצִּילִין מִיַּד כְּלִי חֶרֶשׂ אֶלָּא כֵלִים:

(2) Water may be poured over the hands out of any kind of vessel, even out of vessels made of animal dung, out of vessels made of stone or out of vessels made of clay. Water may not be poured from the sides of [broken] vessels or from the bottom of a ladle or from the stopper of a jar. Nor may one pour [water] over the hands of his fellow out of his cupped hands. Because one may not draw, nor sanctify, nor sprinkle the water of purification, nor pour water over the hands except in a vessel. And only vessels closely covered with a lid protect [their contents from uncleanness]. And only vessels protect [their contents from uncleanness] inside earthenware vessels.

Mishnah 1:3

Our Mishnah begins the discussion of the proper type of water that may be used for Netillas Yadayim. it is important, therefore, to understand the role water plays in Halchah. Water, as a distinct item, plays a significant role in Halacha. The introductory Berocho one makes on drinking water is the subject of a dispute (Berochos 6:8) and wine must first be diluted by water to be considered wine (Berochos 7:5). One cannot purchase water with Ma'aser Sheini funds (Ma'aser Sheini 1:5). Water is the subject of its own ritual ceremony in the Beis HaMikdash (Sukkah 4:9). Most importantly, however, is its use in all purification rituals.

Purification rituals almost universally require water. Whether it is immersion in a Mikvah, rinsing yourself (or portions of yourself) with water, a person or vessel contaminated with corpse-Tumah being sprinkled with Mei Chattas, the Metzorah being sprinkled with the blood-water mix or the Sotah drinking the water based elixir, water plays an essential role.

Our Mishna discusses some of the disqualifying characteristics of the Netilas Yadayim water. First, as a general rule, the water should be fresh. The water need not necessarily be potable, but it must remain fit for animals to drink. Second, the water should be clear and not discolored. Finally, the water cannot have been used for some other, prior purpose. The dispute in the Mishnah is whether such alternative, prior use has to be purposeful or is the water disqualified if used even by accident.

There is a dispute among the Rishonim as to why water used for other purposes is invalid for Netilas Yadayim. Some suggest that it takes on the persona of "waster water" which would be incongruous with the purpose of Netilas Yadayim, which is to clean the hands. Others suggest that once used, the water loses its status as water.

Our Mishnah mentions the Tanna, Shimon HaTimni. There is some dispute amongst the commentators as to the exact spelling and pronunciation of his name. See R' Ya'akov Emden (Lechem Shmayim ad. loc. and Taanis 3:7) and R' Yaakov Kaminetzky (Emes L'Yaakov ad. loc.). In addition, there are numerous cities named Timnah making the proper identification of Shimon's hometown difficult.

הַמַּיִם שֶׁנִּפְסְלוּ מִשְּׁתִיַּת הַבְּהֵמָה,

בְּכֵלִים, פְּסוּלִים.

וּבְקַרְקָעוֹת, כְּשֵׁרִים.
נָפַל לְתוֹכָן דְּיוֹ, קוֹמוֹס, וְקַנְקַנְתּוֹם וְנִשְׁתַּנּוּ מַרְאֵיהֶן, פְּסוּלִין.
עָשָׂה בָהֶם מְלָאכָה אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁרָה בָהֶן פִּתּוֹ, פְּסוּלִין.

שִׁמְעוֹן הַתִּמְנִי אוֹמֵר, אֲפִלּוּ נִתְכַּוֵּן לִשְׁרוֹת בָּזֶה וְנָפַל לַשֵּׁנִי, כְּשֵׁרִים:

(3) Water which had become so unfit that it could not be drunk by a beast: If it was in a vessel it is invalid, But if it was in the ground it is valid. If there fell into [the water], dye, or gum or sulphate of copper and its color changed, it is invalid. If a person did any work with it or soaked his bread in it, it is invalid. Shimon of Teman says: even if he intended to soak his bread in one water and it fell into another water the water is valid.

Mishnah 1:4

Our Mishna provides more examples of water that is being used for "other work." Using the water to wash and clean dishes will invalidate the water. However, if the vessels are already clean, then the water will remain valid. New vessels are subject of a dispute, since although the water will not be ruined, nevertheless, it is common to wash new vessels even if clean, hence disqualifying the water according to Rabi Yose.

הֵדִיחַ בָּהֶם אֶת הַכֵּלִים אוֹ שֶׁמִּחָה בָהֶם אֶת הַמִּדּוֹת, פְּסוּלִים.
הֵדִיחַ בָּהֶם כֵּלִים מוּדָחִים אוֹ חֲדָשִׁים, כְּשֵׁרִים. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי פוֹסֵל בַּחֲדָשִׁים:

(4) If he cleansed vessels with the water or scrubbed measures with it, [the water] is invalid. If he rinsed with it vessels which had already been rinsed or new vessels, it is valid. Rabbi Yose declares [the water] invalid if they were new vessels.

Mishnah 1:5

The first part of the Mishna provides one last example of water that was used for other purposes. Importantly, the Mishnah distinguishes using the actual water and dipping your hands in the water and then using the residue for another purse. In the later case, we do not consider it as if you used the water.

The second part describes who can pour the water and by what means/power it can be poured. All agree that human, continuous force when pouring the water, even without specific intent to pour, is fine. The dispute in our Mishnah is whether non-human or non-continuous force will disqualify the water.

הַמַּיִם שֶׁהַנַּחְתּוֹם מַטְבִּיל בָּהֶם אֶת הַגְּלֻסְקִין, פְּסוּלִים.

וּכְשֶׁהוּא מֵדִיחַ אֶת יָדָיו בָּהֶן, כְּשֵׁרִים.
הַכֹּל כְּשֵׁרִים לִתֵּן לַיָּדַיִם, אֲפִלּוּ חֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן.
מַנִּיחַ חָבִית בֵּין בִּרְכָּיו וְנוֹטֵל
מַטֶּה חָבִית עַל צִדָּהּ וְנוֹטֵל.

וְהַקּוֹף נוֹטֵל לַיָּדַיִם.

רַבִּי יוֹסֵי פוֹסֵל בִּשְׁנֵי אֵלּוּ:

(5) Water in which the baker dips his loaves is invalid; But if he moistened his hands in the water it is valid. All are fit to pour water over the hands, even a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor. A person may place the jug between his knees and pour out the water Or he may turn the jug on its side and pour it out. A monkey may pour water over the hands. Rabbi Yose declares these [latter] two cases invalid.