Treatise of the Mishnah and the Tosefta, dealing with the uncleanness of the hands and their ablution. It stands eleventh in the order Ṭohorot in most editions of the Mishnah, and is divided into four chapters, containing twenty-two paragraphs in all.
- Ch. i.: The quantity of water necessary to cleanse the hands by pouring it over them (§ 1); the vessels from which the water may be poured over the hands (§ 2); kinds of water which may not be used to cleanse the hands, and persons who may perform the act of manual ablution (§§ 3-5).
- Ch. ii.: How the water should be poured over the hands, and the first and second ablutions (§§ 1-3); the hands are regarded as clean in all cases where doubt exists as to whether the ablution was properly performed (§ 4).
- Ch. iii.: Things which render the hands unclean; the canonical books make the hands unclean. The holy writings were kept together with the equally sacred heave-offering ("terumah") of the priests, and were injured by mice; to prevent this it was enacted that the holy writings defiled the hands as well as the heave-offering, thus leading to a discontinuance of the custom of keeping them together; discussion of the question whether the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes are canonical, and thus render the hands unclean; on the day of the election of Eleazar b. Azariah as nasi these books were declared canonical.
- Ch. iv.: Other verdicts rendered on the same day in which the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes were declared canonical, these rulings being corollaries of that decision (§ 1-4); the Aramaic language in Ezra and Daniel, the ancient Hebrew writing ("ketab 'Ibri"), and dissensions between Pharisees and Sadducees (§§ 5-8).
The Tosefta to this treatise is divided into two chapters, and contains, in addition to amplifications of the mishnaic sayings, various interesting maxims, of which the following may be mentioned: "The book of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus [Sirach]) and all books of later date are no longer canonical" (ii. 13). The "Ṭobele Shaḥarit" (= "Morning Baptists"; see