TOHOROT (Heb. טָהֳרוֹת; lit. "cleannesses"), fifth tractate in the order of the same name according to the enumeration in the standard Mishnah. According to *Hai Gaon it is the seventh. It is also the seventh in the Tosefta, if the three sections into which Kelim is divided there are counted as one.

The name tohorot ("ritual cleannesses") is actually a euphemism for tumot ("ritual uncleannesses") since Tohorot deals essentially with the rules of the lesser degrees of uncleanness, effects of which last until sunset only. It details the laws of cleanness and uncleanness regarding foodstuffs and liquids, persons engaged in their preparation or consumption, and vessels employed in the process.

Chapter 1 begins with the 13 regulations concerning the carrion of clean birds, and those relating to unclean birds and cattle. It continues with a discussion of the extent to which foodstuffs of major and minor grades of uncleanness may be combined to form the prescribed minima. Also discussed are the conditions under which the same or different grades of uncleanness may be conveyed to a number of loaves or pieces of dough that cling to one another. Chapter 2 discusses uncleanness that may be conveyed to wet or dry *terumah by the hands of clean and unclean persons, the various grades of uncleanness a person may contract through eating, and the resultant uncleanness of foodstuff in contact with other foodstuff possessing various grades of uncleanness. Chapter 3 deals with the grades of uncleanness and minimum amounts applicable to foodstuffs capable of changing their state of fluidity to one of solidity and vice versa. Also discussed is the cleanness or uncleanness of those objects whose bulk is increased or decreased by weather conditions. The chapter concludes with an exposition of doubtful uncleanness, and this continues to the end of chapter 4 which deals with cases of doubtful uncleanness as a result of which terumah is to be burned, and doubtful instances that are finally regarded as clean. Chapters 5 and 6 are mainly concerned with doubtful cases of uncleanness in which a distinction is made between location in a private domain and location in a public domain. In the former, all doubtful cases are declared unclean, while in the latter, they are considered clean. Also discussed are instances in which both a private and public domain are involved. Chapter 7 discusses forms of doubtful uncleanness which result from the presence of an *am ha-areẓ or his wife. Chapter 8 concludes the discussion regarding the am ha-areẓ. Rules regarding the stages when foodstuffs begin and cease to be susceptible to uncleanness are next specified. A discussion concerning the uncleanness of beverages concludes the chapter. Chapters 9 and 10 conclude the tractate with the regulations concerning the stages at which olives become susceptible to uncleanness, and the laws of cleanness and uncleanness that apply to an olive-press and a winepress. The Tosefta to this tractate is divided into 11 chapters. Since there is no Gemara to Tohorot, the Tosefta is extremely valuable for the elucidation of many difficult passages in the Mishnah. All the commentators therefore made extensive use of the Tosefta in their explanations of the Mishnah. The Tosefta does not totally correspond to the Mishnah. It does not contain any laws that correspond to Mishnah 1:1–4 or 2:1. Tosefta 4:1–4 includes material which is not contained in the Mishnah. It was translated into English by H. Danby (The Mishnah, 1933), and J. Neusner published a translation of both the Mishnah (1991) and the Tosefta (2002) of Tohorot.


Strack-Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1996), 117; Epstein, The Gaonic Commentary on the Order Toharot (Hebrew) (1982); S. Lieberman, Tosefet Rishonim, vol. 3 (1939); J. Neusner, A History of the Mishnaic Laws of Purities (1974–77), vols. 11–12; idem, From Mishnah to Scripture (1984), 67–71; idem, The Mishnah Before 70 (1987), 171–178; idem, The Philosophical Mishnah, 3 (1989), 207–20; idem, Purity in Rabbinic Judaism (1994), 74–79.

[Aaron Rothkoff]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.