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I know that פשוטי כלי עץ טהורים (wooden vessels that are flat [without a receptacle] cannot become טמא [ritually impure]). (כלים ב:א)

What about a wooden knife? It has a function, but doesn't have a בית קיבול (receptacle).
Are wooden knives מקבל טמא?

I'd prefer a halachic source (Rif, Rosh, Rambam, Shulchan Aruch et al) who discusses wooden knives directly, if possible.

  • This question is a follow-up to the comments under judaism.stackexchange.com/q/47466/5323 – MTL Oct 20 '14 at 14:39
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    (No, I don't know anyone who owns a wooden knife :P) – MTL Oct 20 '14 at 18:11
  • Could you clarify why you think a knife might be different than other utensils? – Scimonster Oct 27 '14 at 7:42
  • I got the impression that a wooden knife isn't Meqabel Tum'ah, and that's one of the suggested answers to "How was Shmuel permitted to kill Agag" was that he used a wooden sword (though in that question it was rejected in the premise of the question). – Tamir Evan Oct 27 '14 at 17:17
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    Would Teme'im being allowed to slaughter Qodashim by using a knife fashioned from a reed haulm (קרומית של קנה), mean that a wooden knife is not Meqabel Tum'ah? (See Chulin 3a, and Rashi s.v. Qeromit shel Qaneh). – Tamir Evan Oct 27 '14 at 18:16
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+25

Closest I could find for you. Maseches Keilim chapter 15 is where we find the laws of pshutei kli eitz (from here on p.k.e.). While it is true that p.k.e. are not mikabel tumah on a dioraisa level, they are mikabel tumah on a rabbinic level. But this only applies to certain types of p.k.e.

In mishna 2 we find that a kneading board which is a p.k.e. is not mikabel tumah if it is a personal homeowner's board, as opposed to the professional baker's board. The difference being that the professional board is made 'in the shape of a keili', while the board for personal use does not resemble a kli. This was reason enough for the rabbis make this gzeira, and distinction.

At the end of the mishna there is a dispute about another p.k.e. called a Maarokh, and the rishonim have a dispute what the keili is, if it is a board for final scaling of the bread or a wooden spatula to remove the bread from the oven. But what I want to point out is the Tiferres Yisroel #39. He explains the opinion of the chachamim in this machlokes as being that we were only gozer tumah on a p.k.e. that an item is placed upon, such as a board or a table being that it functions to a degree as a receptacle. As opposed to a p.k.e. that is used to carry an item from place to place, this is not considered a receiving receptacle. He brings a proof from chapter 12 mishna 2 where we find a pole of a scale that is not mikabel tumah in and of itself.

This seems pertinent to your question although a knife per se was not discussed.

  • Thanks. I'd really like to see if a knife, or something very close to a knife is discussed directly. +1 for effort :) – MTL Oct 27 '14 at 19:42
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The gemara in Chullin 3a says that a tamei person can slaughter with a sharpened reed which cannot become tamei to avoid making the slaughtered animal tamei. This sharpened reed is a פשוטי כלי עץ (see Tosafos mentioned below) and is essentially a wooden knife (although I doubt whether practically speaking a knife made from other wood could be made sharp enough to slaughter with).

Tosafos on Succah 5a state that such a utensil does not become tamei even d'rabanan.

  • Closer to what I'm looking for....though I could definitely hear a חילוק between a קרומית של קנה and a designated wooden knife, because קנה (AFAIK) is naturally found sharp, and is not modified in any way, whereas a wooden knife is more a כלי, that may have been shaped more. In any event, +1 and thanks :) – MTL Oct 30 '14 at 2:45

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