Dear Kollel members,
I am editing parts of the Yad Avraham English Mishnah Series for Artscroll and am looking for information regarding the present-day location of Beis Kerem (of the mishnah, Niddah 19a). In your Background on the Daf to Niddah 19a, you write the following:
9) [line 13] BIK'AS BEIS KEREM - a valley in the Galil in the vicinity of present day Karmiel
Could you give me your source for this location?
Also, Miskenos Naftali (to the mishnah, Niddah 2:7) equates Beis Kerem here with the place of the same name mentioned in Jeremiah 6:1, and from the context of the verse it appears to be a "suburb" of Jerusalem (as opposed to a place in the Galil).
Also, Rosh (in the gemara pages) to Middos 3:4 identifies Beis Kerem (where they would get smooth stones for making the mizbeach) as the same one mentioned in Jeremiah, so would you agree that both instances of Beis Kerem in the mishnah are referring to the same place?
In fact, you write there:
6) [line 12] BIK'AS BEIS KEREM - location of the modern-day suburb of Yerushalayim called Ein Kerem, a place that contained rocks that did not need to be smoothed or chiseled
Thank you for your help,
Our identification appears to be correct. It is based on the excellent work, "ha'Geographia b'Mishnah" by Rav Benzion Segal and Rav Yeshayahu Dvorkas. Their logic for locating the "Bik'as Beis ha'Kerem" of this Mishnah in the Galil is based on the Tosefta (Nidah 3:11), which lists it together with a number of other valleys, all from the Galil, when describing the color of the Mishnah. (Allow me to add that the Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva who described this color based on the dirt of various locations all lived in the Galil, and there would be no point in their giving a description that would not be familiar to their students.)
Today's Acco-Tzfat highway lies along this 11 kilometer long valley.
As you found in our Background to the Daf notes for Midos 3:4, we identified the Bik'as Beis ha'Kerem of that Mishnah with the Jerusalem suburb mentioned in Jeremiah 6:1 (and Nechemiah 3:14), as you pointed out. This was again based on the conclusions of ha'Geographia b'Mishnah. (The stones for the Mizbe'ach were obviously quarried from an area near Jerusalem.) This would locate that Bik'as Beis ha'Kerem the area known today as Ein Kerem.
Ha'Geographia b'Mishnah makes a fascinating point about that Bik'as Beis ha'Kerem, with regard to why its stones were used for the Mizbe'ach. The stones quarried from Ein Kerem lie in long flat slabs separated by thin layers of dirt, and can be removed from the soil without the help of metal instruments. In addition, they are so flat that no chiseling is needed to make them useable. Until today, they are used to plate floors and walls.
If we can be of further help to you, please let us know.