The mishnah in Keilim 2:5 states that חביות ניירות can receive Tumah. According to the RASH it is referring to "paper barrels". Would this have any ramifications to today's "paper" cups as far as being called a "Keili"? Any other halachic issues? Thanks!

  • "as far as being called a 'Keili'" What do you mean by that? Even things which can't accept Tumah are called Kelim (eg. stone vessels). Please edit to clarify.
    – Double AA
    Jul 27 '17 at 16:35
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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Shalom!
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 27 '17 at 17:42
  • Assuming that it’s called a Kli, I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be: paper grows from the ground and therefore should be susceptible to tumah. Do note that it has to get wet first.
    – DonielF
    Aug 20 '17 at 3:11

Regarding your question the Rash on Keilim 2:5 says:

(Sources provided from Sefaria.org)

(Partial Quote)

ונייר הוא קלף שמכסין בו את הצלוחית כדאמרינן (ב"ק דף מט:) וכי לצור על פי צלוחיתו הוא צריך:

(The) paper (which the Mishna speaks about), is parchment which they use to cover flasks as it says (Bava Kama 49b) "does he need it to cover the opening of a flask?"

Based on the understanding of the Rash, this would not have any halachic ramifications regarding Tuma based on the current manufacturing of paper cups as his definition of נייר is parchment, and not paper.1

Hope this is insightful.

1The Tosfos Yom Tov agrees with this idea as well expressing that the status of paper in regard to Tuma is unknown to him

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    @DoubleAA I looked it up in context with the Gemara in Bava Kama and it seems that Parchment serves a better translation unless there is evidence otherwise. Jul 27 '17 at 17:48
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    @DoubleAA if you happen to know a better word for "tanned hide prepared for writing" please let me know so I can edit appropriately Jul 27 '17 at 17:54
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    How about "tanned hide prepared for writing"? The point of the Rash is to figure out what Niyar (which is something written on) does regarding barrels. Translating Niyar as "paper" is anachronistic, and viewing his different word "klaf" as a strict definition is missing the point. All Rash is doing is showing that writing surfaces were used with barrels. He uses "klaf" since it's more familiar, but not meant strictly as a definition of Niyar.
    – Double AA
    Jul 27 '17 at 17:56
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    @DoubleAA see the Tosfos Yom Tov as well. Jul 27 '17 at 17:59
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    Indeed the TYT is a much more relevant source, but I don't think you understood him right. He doesn't say it's not known but rather he doesn't know any reason it should accept tumah (ie he thinks it's tahor) (disclaimer: I only saw the Ikar TYT not the TYT himself)
    – Double AA
    Jul 27 '17 at 18:01

Rashi in Gittin 19b says:

נייר - סתם נייר של עשבים הוא "Neyar" Paper is made out of foliage (not animal hide)

Utensils which are made out of trees and foliage may be susceptible to Tumah as long the container is of a permanent consistency. This is brought down in the Tosfos Yomtov in the Name of the Rash that a permanent barrel covering made of foliage is Mekabel Tumah.

כבר הביא הר"ש ברייתא דת"כ פרשת שמיני. דכסוי כלי עץ נמי טהורים. מה שאין כן נייר שהוא עשוי מעשבים על ידי דבק. כדפירש הר"ב במשנה ב פ"ב דמגילה. לא ידענא מאי טומאה שייכא ביה. אפילו כשאינו של כסוי ומיהו י"ל מידי דהוי מחצלת

Indeed the Rambam makes this distinction between permanent and temporary utensils Hilchos Keilim 5,7:

חותל של הוצין שמניחין בו הרוטב וכיוצא בו אם הוא נותן לתוכו ונוטל מתוכו מתטמא ואם אינו יכול ליטול מה שבתוכו עד שיקרענו או יתירנו או שחשב לאכול מה שבתוכו ולזרקו טהור וכן הקרן שהוא משתמש בה ומשליכה אינה מקבלת טומאה ואם חשב עליה מקבלת טומאה: this is the kesef mishna ישימו בו התמרים הנקראין רוטב וכתב ר"ש דכיון שאין מוציא מה שבתוכו עד שיקרענו או עד שיתירנו הוי תשמיש עראי
A container made of palm leaves that you store dates inside and anything like it (i.e a utensil of temporary nature), if he takes out the dates and replaces inside it dates(i.e uses it more than once) it becomes susceptible to Tuma (ritual impurity) however if it breaks from usage and he chucks it away it cannot be Rendered impure. so too a horn which he uses once and then chucks it away, it is not susceptible to tuma but if he intends to use it more than once it becomes susceptible to tuma.

Paper cups nowadays in general,(unless they are strong reusable utensels) are not tamei as they are temporary like the leaf made one-time usage utensils mentioned in the Rambam.

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