Tosefta Yadayim 2:5 (quoted by Rashba on Mishnah Yadayim) says:

תיק הספרים ומטפחות ותיבה של ספר בזמן שהן טהורות מטמאות את הידים

What does "pure" mean here? What could happen to the wrappings or the ark that they might still be in ritual use (so identifiable as the box for the scroll) but could no longer take on that secondary scriptural status? Or has something happened to remove them from ritual use?

  • is it somehow connected to this he.wikipedia.org/wiki/טומאת_כתבי_הקודש ? – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 16 '20 at 21:00
  • So yes and no. So, for instance, for tefillin and mezuzah, the bits of humash inside make the bayit itself 'metamei et hayadayim.' But here its a tiny bit different. As I understand it, they've limited the extent to which the holy tuma'ah of scripture can spread to say only in cases where the objects are pure. So what does pure mean? I'm flummoxed. – NotGoodAtExamples Jan 16 '20 at 21:03
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    The tumea is not it became tame but a gezera to avoid the presence of food in the Aron – kouty Jan 16 '20 at 21:13

Minchat Bikkurim explains it as saying that even if the wrappings are pure of any other form of impurity, they still defile the hands owing to their status as ‘part’ of the Torah scroll.

Gra has a different version of the text, reading תפורות instead of טהורות. So it’s saying that only if the wrapping is stitched onto the scroll does it defile the hands.

  • I was just checking the variants hoping to find his version, that would be so much clearer! But I didn’t see it anywhere at first glance. Is he connecting it to the previous line? המשיחות והרצועות שתפרן בספר אע"פ שאינו רשאי לקיימן מטמאות. תיק הספרים ומטפחות ותיבה של ספר בזמן שהן טהורות מטמאות את הידים הברכות אע"פ שיש בהן מאותיות ומענינות הרבה שבתורה אינן מטמאות את הידים. הגליונים ספרי מינין אינן מטמאות הידים. ספרי בן סירא וכל הספרים שנכתבו מכאן ואילך אינן מטמאין את הידים. – NotGoodAtExamples Jan 17 '20 at 3:44

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