This is an excerpt from Mishnah, the main rabbinic text of 2nd or 3rd century CE. This passage discusses the notion of impurity and how in the view of ancient rabbis it is passed on from hands to other items, creating degrees of impurity. This type of thinking bears directly on the disputes about the transmission of impurity in Mark 7 and Matt 15.

A woman who was picking vegetables in a pot and touched [with impure hands] a dry part of a leaf outside the pot [but which was partially immersed, or connected to a stalk immersed in the pot], even if it [the entire leaf] has the equivalent of an egg [in volume], it is impure, and everything else is pure [because when her impure hands, which are a second degree impurity, touched the dry part of the leaf, it became a third-degree impurity, which does not generate further impurity]. If she touched a wet part, if it has [at least] the equivalent of an egg [in volume], everything is impure; if it does not have the equivalent of an egg, it is impure and everything [else] is pure. If it [the wet part of the leaf] returns to the pot, everything is impure. If it [her hand] had been rendered impure through contact with a dead body, and she touched either a moist or dry part [of a leaf sticking out of the pot], if it has the equivalent of an egg [in volume], everything is impure; if it does not have the equivalent of an egg, it is impure and everything [else] is pure. If a woman who had immersed that day [and therefore was still of a second degree impurity until sunset] was emptying the pot with dirty [i.e. impure] hands and she saw liquids on her hands, and it is doubtful as to whether they were splashed from the pot, or that the stalk touched her hands, the vegetable [connected to the stalk] is invalid [i.e. impure], and [the rest of] the pot is pure.

Rabbi Eliezer says: One who eats foods of a first degree [level of impurity] is [himself rendered] of a first degree; [if he eats] foods of a second degree, [he is rendered] of a second degree; foods of a third degree, [he is rendered] of a third degree. Rabbi Yehoshua says: One who eats foods of a first degree or of a second degree is [rendered] of a second degree; [one who eats foods] of a third degree, [he is rendered] of second degree for sanctified foods, but not for terumah, [and this applies] with non-sacred food prepared with the purity stringency of terumah [since regular non-sacred foods do not have third degree impurity]…

Non-sacred foods of a second degree render non-sacred liquids impure and invalidate [foods] for those who eat terumah. Terumah of a third-degree renders sanctified liquids impure, and invalidates [foods] for those who eat sanctified foods, [and this applies] when they were prepared with the purity stringency of sanctified things. But if they were prepared [only] with the purity stringency of terumah, it [terumah of a third degree] renders, with regard to sanctified foods, two impure [i.e. creates, upon contact, a first degree impurity and, in turn, a second degree impurity] and invalidates one [in turn, to be a third degree level of impurity, but not a fourth-degree; this is because foods prepared with the purity stringency of terumah are still impure at a first degree level with regard to sanctified foods, but they do not retain a fourth-degree impurity, since terumah cannot retain the fourth degree of impurity]. (Mishnah, Tohorot 2)

Rabbi Hillel said: "Do not say, I will study when I have the time to study, because you may never have the time to study." Answer the Rabbi's challenge by clicking HERE and registering to begin your journey of discovery! (Last chance)

12 COMMENTS

  1. Dr. Eli or whomever will answer me, I understood none of this article. But I have a question. Eating Islamic meat or not, how would it be considered by both Torah (OT) and Injil (NT)? By former or current rabbis? In Africa as a child when the chicken was excuse me swung around by the neck, would that not be strangled? How can you know you’re not eating strangled meat in this modern world? I’m gentile (except inwardly) and what matters to the Lord matters to me.

  2. Would these levels of impurity be similar to the “fence laws” that put hedges around the central laws to ensure that the central laws were not broken?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your name here
Words left: 25
Anna Gromova
Hi! I'm Anna. Word count for non-members is limited to 25 words only, become a member now to post unlimited comments and to get a guaranteed response from our faculty too!!!! The offer includes 2 FREE extra courses, Israel Bible Weekly magazine and collection of books by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. Delay no longer. Do it right now!
Please enter your comment!