The Bartenura, in his commentary to Kelim 27:3, notes that the rules concerning the admixture of cloth with sack, sack with leather and leather with matting only apply to those specific combinations and not to admixtures of cloth with leather, leather with matting or sack with matting. In stressing this, he notes that, when it comes to those things, they don't combine, since "המחברן בטלה דעתו אצל כל אדם".

I can't figure out what this means, and have never seen it anywhere else. I am guessing that it translates to something like, "[as for] the one who combines them, his mind (his intention?) is nullified by (?) all".

I am taking "mind" (דעת) as the subject, since בטלה is a feminine verb, but the whole thing looks very strange to me. Does anybody know what it means?

  • 2
    Hebrew Wikipedia article. – Fred Dec 29 '15 at 5:00
  • @Fred - That's perfect, thank you!! Certainly would have paid for me to Google it first :) Do you want to write it up as an answer? – Shimon bM Dec 29 '15 at 5:14

This is a rather common expression (it appears eight times in Shas according to my search, but I know that it's very commonly found among the commentators).

As you thought, בטלה refers to the subject's דעת - it means "his own intention is voided in light of everyone else's."

Legally speaking, this means to say that even if a person thought to have a certain thing in mind, if his intention or thought is very unusual, we will consider it inconsequential. In your example, even though a person decided that he wanted a garment with cloth and leather combined, because this is so unusual, it is not considered a garment at all. To take a simpler example: we only bentch on bread, because people normally make meals out of bread. If someone decided to make a meal out of wine, that would be really weird, so we say that he's just unusual and בטלה דעתו אצל כל אדם, so he too doesn't have to bentch on his meal of wine (Brachos 35b)

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