Treatise in the Mishnah and in the Tosefta, dealing chiefly with a more precise definition of the rules in Lev. xi. 32 et seq., Num. xix. 14 et seq., and xxxi. 20 et seq. The name "Kelim" is found in the Mishnah itself (Kelim xxx. 4). In most editions of the Mishnah, and in the Tosefta, this treatise stands first in the series Ṭohorot, and is divided into thirty chapters, containing altogether 252 paragraphs.
- Ch. i.: The chief kinds of unclean things ("abot ha-ṭum'ot") which defile men and vessels when these touch them, but not when carried (§ 1). Different degrees of uncleanness, the highest being that of a corpse, which defiles everything in the same room with it (§§ 2-4). The ten degrees of uncleanness in connection with the person (§ 5). The ten degrees of sanctity—from the Holy Land to the Holy of Holies (§§ 6-9).
- Ch. ii.: Utensils of wood, leather, bone, and glass that can become unclean; those that can not. How earthen vessels may become unclean (§ 1). How large an earthen vessel must be before it becomes susceptible of defilement (§ 2). Earthen vessels that can not become unclean (§§ 3-6); those that can (§§ 7-8).
- Ch. iii.: How large a hole must be made in an unclean earthen vessel in order to render it clean (§§ 1-2). Conditions under which a vessel ceases to be legally a "utensil," and becomes, therefore, incapable of defilement (§§ 3-8).
- Ch. iv.: Details concerning broken earthenware vessels. How long earthen vessels may be used before they should be discarded as liable to defilement.
- Ch. v.: The size and duration of an oven in regard to its liability to defilement (§ 1); the size of a fireplace (§ 2). Further details concerning ovens (§§ 3-6). How a defiled oven may be purified (§§ 7-9). The oven of Akhnai; the baking-holes of the Arabs; the oven of Ben Dinai (§ 10). Stone and metal ovens (§ 11).
- Ch. vi. and vii.: Further details concerning ovens and fireplaces; how the Nazarite fireplaces in Jerusalem were made.
- Ch. viii.: How the oven may become unclean, and when its contents also become unclean (§§ 1-11).
- Ch. ix.: Regulations concerning objects which are contained within other objects (e.g., liquids held in sponges), which come within the area contaminated by an unclean vessel, or which are in a tent containing a dead body.
- Ch. x.: Vessels which, by means of a cover fastened over them (comp. Num. xix. 15), protect their contents from defilement (§§ 1, 7-8). How such a cover must be secured to the vessel (§§ 2-6).
- Ch. xi.-xiii.: Metal vessels that can be defiled and metal vessels that can not.
- Ch. xiv.: How large metal vessels must be before they are liable to defilement (§ 1). Other kinds of metal utensils, some of which can become unclean, while others can not (§§ 2-6). When a metal vessel that has been broken becomes clean again (§§ 7-8).
- Ch. xv.: The shapes and sizes in vessels of wood, leather, bone, and glass which render them liable to defilement. In this connection it is stated that all copies of the Scriptures, with the exception of that in the forecourt of the Temple, rendered the hands unclean.
- Ch. xvi.: The period of time after which various wooden utensils may become unclean (§§ 1-3); the period after which various utensils of leather may become unclean (§ 4). An enumeration of different utensils, some of which can become unclean, while others can not (§§ 5-8).
- Ch. xvii.: The size of the hole in various utensils which will render them clean. The dates, olives, pomegranates, etc., used as measures must be of medium size (§§ 1-8). In this connection it is noted that both cubit measures in the Temple were larger than those in use at the time of Moses (§ 9). Further details concerning measures (§§ 10-12). Vessels made from the skins of marine animals, excepting the seal, can not become unclean (§ 13). Other utensils. Regarding utensils made for purposes of deceit, R. Johanan b. Zakkai says: "Wo is me if I mention these things [because many may thus learn how they are made]! Wo is me if I mention them not [because it must be known how such utensils are to be used to avoid defilement]!"
- Ch. xviii.-xx.: Beds and other objects which may become unclean through "midras" (i.e., through lying, sitting, or stepping upon them), and the various utensils which may become unclean in other ways.
- Ch. xxi.: On composite utensils—looms, plows, saws, and carpenters' presses.
- Ch. xxii.: On tables, benches, bridal seats, etc.
- Ch. xxiii.: Enumeration of those articles used in riding which may become unclean. Difference between their uncleanness when so used and their uncleanness when used as seats.
- Ch. xxiv.: On those things which, according to their composition, become thrice liable to defilement.
- Ch. xxv.: The outside and the inside, the stands, edges, and handles of utensils. Utensils may become unclean merely by being intended for a certain purpose, losing their uncleanness only when a material change is made in them.
- Ch. xxvi.: On sandals, pouches, skins, and coverings. Cases in which the mere intention to use certain vessels for certain purposes renders them unclean; other vessels that can not become unclean because of such intention.
- Ch. xxvii.-xxviii.: How large clothing, sacks, skins, etc., must be in order to become capable of defilement; further details concerning uncleanness in these and similar objects.
- Ch. xxix.: To what extent a cord shares the uncleanness of the object to which it is attached; details concerning the measuring of cords. Particulars concerning the dimensions of the handle of an ax, of a spade, etc.
- Ch. xxx.: Regulations concerning utensils of glass. The treatise concludes with an exclamation of R. Jose: "Hail to thee, O Kelim! Thou beganest with 'Impure' and endest with 'pure.'" This sentence is of interest as showing that Kelim in its present form was written before Judah ha-Nasi, since Jose belongs to the generation next to the last of the Tannaim.
In the Tosefta the treatise Kelim, probably because of its size, is divided into three parts ("babot"), comprising twenty-five chapters in all. The Tosefta Kelim contains much that may serve to elucidate the Mishnah; for example, in Tosef., B. Ḳ. i. 14 the exegetical basis of Mishnah i. 8 is given. Especially noteworthy is the saying of R. Jose (B. M. v. 2), which attempts to explain the contradiction between I Kings vii. 26 and II Chron. iv. 5.
- Z. Frankel, Hodegetica in Mischnam, p. 263, Leipsic, 1859.