Torah Sparks

United Synagogue (USCJ) is proud and delighted to bring you Torah Sparks, with insights and learning materials on the Parasha (Torah portion) of the week. Torah Sparks is produced by the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Each week there will be a Dvar Torah - a discussion on some aspect of the reading, by CY faculty, alumni and friends; a Vort - a short thought from Chasidic rebbes or other thinkers about some point in the text; and Table Talk - questions to stimulate discussion on the Parsha around the Shabbat table. Torah Sparks is available here on the Conservative Yeshiva's Shiurim Online Beit Midrash website, as well as by subscription to weekly graphical emails. Please select the Parasha you would like to see - it will display articles from each year. A printable PDF is linked at the end of each week's presentation.

Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow

About Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow

Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow received his MA and Rabbinic ordination from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Shlomo is the mesadder gittin (adjudicator of religious divorce) for the Masorti Movement in Israel and is certified as mashgiah kashrut and shohet l’ofot (ritual slaughterer). In addition, he is on the faculty of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary and mentors Rabbis via Masorti Olami. Previously he served as the Rabbi of Congregation Shevet Achim in Gilo. He teaches Biblical Hebrew, Halakha (Jewish Law) and Pos’kim (The Development of Jewish Law).

Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow

Contemporary Issues In Halakha – Laws Of Family Purity Summary

Laws Of Family Purity Summary It looks like everyone has “run out of gas” as there have been no comments and no questions.  I’m not sure how many people have gone through the sources or glanced at the teshuvot on line, so I will try to keep this short and basic. In Leviticus Chapter 15, […]

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Contemporary Issues In Halakha – Waiting Between Meat And Milk Summary

Waiting Between Meat And Milk Summary This section of study was devoted to examining the development of one of the main features of observant Jewish life – waiting between the consumption of meat and milk.  It turned out that this is a clear example of a practice which has become increasingly more stringent over the […]

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Waiting Between Meat And Milk – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

המתנה בין בשר לחלב Waiting between Meat and Milk Introduction The purpose of this section is to examine the basis for the different customs of waiting a certain number of hours after eating meat and before eating/drinking milk. A related issue – must one wait after milk and before meat?  Why is there a difference? […]

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Contemporary Issues In Halakha – Musical Instruments In Synagogue Sources Part 2

Musical Instruments In Synagogue Sources Part 2 Aside from the main issue that we have in the source sheet שמא יתקן  (lest one fix) and the secondary issue which is reflected in source #1 in the Yerushalmi עובדין דחול (doing as one does during the week) I want to enumerate a number of other possible […]

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Contemporary Issues In Halakha – Musical Instruments In Synagogue Sources Part 1

כלי נגינה בשבת – שבות Musical Instruments on Shabbat הר’ שלמה זכרוב  1)  תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת עירובין פרק י דף כו טור ד /הי”ג  . . .שלא יעשה בשבת כדרך שעושה בחול.  Talmud Yerushalmi, Eruvin, Chapter 10:13 . . .  One shouldn’t do on Shabbat as one does during the week. *Question:  After reading the […]

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Contemporary Issues in Halakha

In this course, we will examine how halakha – Jewish law – confronts modernity (and vice-versa) on a number of issues, some of which have riveted the Jewish world recently.

To Fast or not to Fast? This is the question regarding Tisha b’Av and the three other minor fasts commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem. Does the return of the Jewish people to Israel and Jerusalem affect in any way how we observe these days? Is the mournful nature set in stone for eternity?

Pidyon Shevuyim – The Redemption of Captives: While we know that it is highly worthy in Judaism to save lives and provide the dead with a proper burial, are there no limits? If paying too high a “price” for captives will only spur the captors to step up their activities in the future, what has been gained? To what extent does halakha take into consideration the needs of individuals as opposed to the needs of the community as a whole?

Musical Instruments in the Synagogue: In the last couple decades we have seen significant growth in musical accompaniment to services on Shabbat and Holidays in a number of synagogues that consider themselves to be bound by halakha. Often there are a wide array of instruments and sometimes even “rock bands” performing. Can these developments be justified by Jewish law?

Giyyur – Conversion: Once a Jew always a Jew? Is conversion final in Judaism or can a Bet Din – a Jewish Court – revoke the conversion at a later date? Must the convert accept the yoke of all of the mitzvot at the time of conversion? What happens if it is later discovered that the convert is not leading an observant lifestyle?
Kohen & a Giyyoret (convert) – An Acceptable Union? Traditionally, it has been forbidden for a Kohen to marry a convert to Judaism. What is the reason for this and is it still relevant today? Is our understanding of the respective nature of the kohen and convert the same as in antiquity?

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