In mishna Keilim 26:3, we see that a leather belt is susceptible to tumah.

כַּף לוֹקְטֵי קוֹצִים, טְהוֹרָה. הַזּוֹן וְהַבִּרְכְּיָר, טְמֵאִין. וְהַשַּׁרְווּלִים, טְמֵאִין. וְהַפְּרַקְלִימִין, טְהוֹרִין. וְכָל בֵּית אֶצְבָּעוֹת, טְהוֹרוֹת, חוּץ מִשֶּׁל קַיָּצִין, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא מְקַבֶּלֶת אֶת הָאוֹג. נִקְרְעָה, אִם אֵינָהּ מְקַבֶּלֶת אֶת רֹב הָאוֹג, טְהוֹרָה:

The hand-coverings of thorn-pickers are pure. A belt and leg guards are susceptible to uncleanness. Sleeves are susceptible to uncleanness. But hand-coverings are pure. All finger-coverings are pure except that of fig-pickers, since the latter holds the sumac berries. If it was torn, if it cannot hold the greater part of a sumac berry it is pure. [from Sefaria]

Why should this be the case? Indeed, a flat leather object that isn't made for sitting/lying (such as a belt) is only susceptible to tumah if it is recognisable as a utensil and serves both a person and their objects (as described in, for example, Kehati's introduction to the masechet). While a belt is a recognisable utensil, it serves a person, but not their utensils.

So, why is a leather belt susceptible to tumah?

1 Answer 1


You answered this in your question: it is recognizable as a utensil and serves both a person and their objects.

See how the Meforshim explain that a זּוֹן is an אֵזוֹר. The Malbim in Yirmiyahu 13:1 explains the difference between the various words used for belt.

An אֵזוֹר is defined as:

אזור הוא חגור מיוחד לחזק בו את מתניו והיה אוסרו בחוזק, והוא ציור הגבורה. ‏

It was the girdle in gird your loins - i.e. holding up your long tunic to prevent you from tripping over it while fighting - and giving your body support. I think that fits in well with your definition of a utensil [that] serves both a person and their objects.

(As opposed to the מֵזַח which was simply for lifting your clothes. מזח חגור מיוחד להגביה בגדיו הארוכים.)

One could also learn simply that since this Mishna talks about the thorn-pickers, their belts either had a hollow (to put in their money or special sized thorns?) or else had hooks to hang their utensils or something else to help in the thorn-picking process.

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