Can Aluminum vessels be Mekabel Tumah? (Obviously) it's not written in Chumash, so is it like iron (which can) or like glass (which can't)

  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28134/759
    – Double AA
    Feb 9 '16 at 5:04
  • I believe that Rav Nachum Rabinovitch, shlit"a, does not require tevilat keilim for aluminum (even midrabanan), which presumably would mean that he would also say that it does not contract tumah.
    – Loewian
    Feb 9 '16 at 5:13
  • @Loewian Tevilah for vessels purchased from non-Jews is not a Tumah concern.
    – Double AA
    Feb 9 '16 at 5:19
  • @DoubleAA But the same reasoning would presumably apply, i.e. the assumption that aluminum is neither included in the biblical matechot, nor in the rabbinic enactments of zechuchit, for any of their laws.
    – Loewian
    Feb 9 '16 at 5:24

Rav Danny Wolf of Yeshiva Har Etzion has a shiur on whether Kohanim can take an aeroplane that flies above cemeteries. Integral to this question is whether aluminium can be mekabel tumah.

The Torah (במדבר ל"א, כב) lists only six metals. So the question is whether the Torah's list is exclusive or just gives examples of metals. The Mishnah and Gemoro give no guidance on this but the author finds help in the discussion of whether glass can be mekabel tumah. Rashi on Rosh Hashono 19b on the words וחכמים מטהרין says:

...טומאת כלי זכוכית דרבנן, שאין כלי מתכות טמאין דאורייתא אלא המנויין בפרשה: הזהב והכסף והנחשת והברזל וכו

The tumah of glass vessels is Rabbinic because only the six listed metals are mekabel tumah. The Vilna Gaon agrees with Rashi.

The Rambam on the other hand includes as mekabel tumah any material that can be melted but excludes glass which is not one of the materials which are melted (!).

So it seems that the issue is a machlokes in the earlier sources.

In our time, Reb Moshe Feinstein (איגרות משה יורה דעה ח"ג סימן כב) agrees with Rashi and excludes aluminium from Biblical tumah.

  • IIRC Rav Moshe says "you'd have to check what airplanes today are made of, if it's not on the six-metal list" ... at the time that responsum was written, the 747 was already in service, and it's aluminum. (Now we have the composite 787, which is a different question!)
    – Shalom
    Feb 9 '16 at 13:30
  • @Shalom, IIRC, composites and synthetics are typically pattur from many halachot (eg. R' Moshe on synthetic fabrics and tzitzit OC. II, א). Feb 9 '16 at 13:36
  • 2
    A little remark. The definition of the six listed metals following the Tora is not necessarely established following the Mendeleev classification.
    – kouty
    Feb 9 '16 at 14:25
  • I think that there is several metals that are at "native state" in nature. That is not the case of Alluminium that is not present at native state. Obviously all native metal was considered as metal because it was known. The old classification was a guide to classifie the metals folowing categories. It is perhaps possible to classifie alluminium as a kind of silver for example. The Chazal say's that it is several type of Gold, perhaps Platinium is one of these. It is only a thinking, outside of Mahloket with anyone.
    – kouty
    Feb 15 '16 at 21:35

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