MAKHSHIRIN (Heb. מַכְשִׁירִין), eighth tractate in the order Tohorot, in the Mishnah and Tosefta. The word makhshirin, the causative hiphil form of kasher ("to be fit"), means "those things which render fit," but it is here used in a technical sense. In accordance with Leviticus 11:34, 37–8, that food can become liable to ritual impurity only if it has been moistened by water, makhshirin is employed to refer to all liquids which have this quality. For the same reason, the tractate is sometimes called Mashkim ("Liquids"). It is laid down on the basis of verse 38 that there must be some intention or desire on the part of the owner that the food be so moistened, and the tractate deals primarily with these two points – the liquids which render food liable to ritual impurity and the intention of having the food moistened. Every possible cause of foods becoming moist is detailed – from rain, ordure, damp walls, absorption of water in the food's vicinity, dripping through a leak in the roof, bilge water, steam caused by rain dripping on hot iron, the juice of grapes, etc. The tractate concludes (6:4–8) with a discussion of liquids other than water which render produce susceptible to impurity. Epstein has pointed to various layers which can be detected in Makhshirin. According to him 1:3 belongs to the Mishnah of R. Joshua; 1:4 to that of Akiva; 5:2 and 6:2 to Meir; and 6:3 to Judah b. Ilai, Akiva's disciple. He maintains that Joshua's ascription of Mishnah 6:4 (Ter. 11:2) to "the sages" is evidence that it is an early one. Mishnah 6:8 is interesting in that, although mishnayot and beraitot usually contain only the discussions of colleagues, this Mishnah also gives disciples' questions and Akiva's reply (cf. Epstein, Tanna'im, 88). The standard text of mishnah 5:1 deals with a drunken man who pushes someone into the water. S. Lieberman has shown that the text is corrupt. The correct reading should be "if he pushed him in order to injure him" (leshovero, לשוברו not leshokhero, לשכרו), and is one of several mishnaic references to the prevalent custom of dangerous water sports, of which the rabbis strongly disapproved. In the Tosefta there are some passages of historical interest. One tells of the overruling by the rabbis of Joshua b. Perahyah's ruling declaring all Alexandrian wheat (a major source of supply) unclean (3:4) and the alterations made by the farmers of Sepphoris in their methods of harvesting in order to remove the suspicion of defilement from their produce (3:5–6). Genizah fragments of the tractate have been found and their alternate readings throw light on several passages (JJLG, 18 (1927), 28ff.). Neusner (1980) devoted a study to the form-critical analysis of the Mishnah, using Makhshirin as his primary focus. The Mishnah of this tractate was translated into English by H. Danby (1933), while J. Neusner published a translation of both the Mishnah (1991) and the Tosefta (2002).
S. Lieberman, in: Sinai, 4 (1939), 57–58; idem, Tosefet Rishonim, vol. 4 (1939); Epstein, Tanna'im, passim; idem, The Gaonic Commentary on the Order Toharot (Hebr.) (1982); Ḥ. Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, 6 (1959), 411–3, 512–6. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Neusner, A History of the Mishnaic Laws of Purities (1974–77), vol. 17; idem, Form Analysis and Exegesis: A Fresh Approach to the Interpretation of the Mishnah (1980); idem, From Mishnah to Scripture (1984), 89–92; idem, The Philosophical Mishnah, 2 (1989), 251–56; idem, Purity in Rabbinic Judaism (1994), 97–102.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.