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.

Arakhin

Arakhin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction In order to understand our mishnah we must understand the distinction between an “evaluation” and vowing someone’s monetary worth. When a person makes a statement such as “My value is upon me,” he must dedicate to the Temple the sum that the Torah determines to be his/her value. […]

Arakhin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction In today’s mishnah Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Judah debate whether a non-Jew can dedicate his value or have his value dedicated to the Temple.   Mishnah Two 1)      A non-Jew: Rabbi Meir says: he can be evaluated but he cannot evaluate. 2)      Rabbi Judah says: he can evaluate […]

Arakhin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction In today’s mishnah three sages debate whether a person who is about to die can have his worth or value dedicated to the Temple.   Mishnah Three 1)      One at the point of death or about to be put to death cannot have his worth vowed, nor be […]

Arakhin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction Since yesterday’s mishnah dealt with the status of someone who was about to be executed, our mishnah continues to provide some information in this subject. It has nothing to do with evaluations.   Mishnah Four 1)      If a woman is about to be executed, they do not wait […]

Arakhin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah begins by discussing upper and lower limits for evaluations. Afterwards, the remainder of the mishnah and the remainder of the chapter continues to discuss various issues unconnected to evaluations, but whose halakhot have the same literary format as the first sentence of the mishnah.   Mishnah […]

Arakhin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      There are never less than four full months in the year, nor did it seem right to have more than eight. 2)      Two loaves were eaten, never earlier than the second day, nor later than the third day. 3)      The shewbread was eaten never earlier than […]

Arakhin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      There are never less than twenty-one blasts in the Temple and never more than forty-eight. 2)      There are never less than two harps, nor more than six. 3)      There are never less than two flutes, nor more than twelve. 4)      On twelve days in the year […]

Arakhin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s, which discussed the blowing of the flutes on holiday occasions.   Mishnah Four 1)      They were slaves of the priests, the words of Rabbi Meir. 2)      Rabbi Yose said: they were of families from Bet Hapegarim, Bet-Zipparya and from Emmaus, places […]

Arakhin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      There were never less than six inspected lambs in the chamber of lambs, enough for Shabbat and the [two] festival days of Rosh Hashanah, and their number could be increased infinitely. 2)      There were never less than two trumpets and their number could be increased infinitely.  […]

Arakhin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      There were never less than twelve levites standing on the platform and their number could be increased into infinity. 2)      No minor could enter the court of the sanctuary to take part in the service except when the Levites stood up to sing. 3)      Nor did […]

Arakhin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction Like the second chapter, the third chapter also begins with a discussion of evaluations and through associative thinking goes on to discuss other laws that have a similar phenomenon. In this case, the phenomenon is that sometimes the law is lenient and sometimes it is strict. Sections 2-4 […]

Arakhin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Leviticus 27:16 states, “If anyone consecrates to the Lord any land that he holds, its assessment shall be in accordance with its seed requirement: fifty shekels of silver to a homer of barley seed.” Verse 22 of the same chapter deals with a case where a person dedicated […]

Arakhin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the warned ox, the “muad.” This is an ox that has gored three times. The owner of a “warned ox” that kills a person is liable to pay the value of the person (see Exodus 21:30). However, if the ox kills a slave, he […]

Arakhin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the rapist or seducer, topics discussed in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 and Exodus 22:15-16. As was the case with the warned ox, any time the Torah sets a fixed amount as a fine, the result can be lenient or strict.   Mishnah Four “The law of […]

Arakhin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction The final mishnah of this chapter refers to the “defamer,” one who falsely claims that a girl he married was not a virgin (see Deuteronomy 22: 13-22).     Mishnah Five The law of the defamer is sometimes lenient and sometimes strict. 1)      How so? Whether he defamed […]

Arakhin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction Our chapter provides several central rules as to how the amount paid for evaluations is determined. We should note that the literary structure of this chapter is the same as that of the previous chapter—the first mishnah gives brief headlines that are further explicated in the rest of […]

Arakhin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah draws a distinction between one who makes a vow of evaluation and one who undertakes to bring someone else’s sacrifices. Whereas in the case of the former, the priest estimates the ability of the vower to pay his vow, in the case of sacrifices the priest […]

Arakhin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that when a person vows another person’s value, whether he was rich at the time of the vow or at the time that he comes to pay his debt, he pays as a rich man. Our mishnah contrasts this with the laws of […]

Arakhin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah, the final mishnah of chapter four, explains the sections of mishnah one that have not yet been explained.   Mishnah Four 1)      “And the age is according to the subject of the vow:” a)      How so? If a child evaluates an old man, he must pay […]

Arakhin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a person who dedicates his weight to the Temple.   Mishnah One 1)      One who said: “I vow my weight,” he must pay his weight, in silver [if he had said in] silver, or in gold [if he had said in] gold. 2)      It […]

Arakhin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah continues to deal with cases where a person dedicates the value or worth of a body part.   Mishnah Two 1)      [If one said] “The worth of my hand is upon me,” they estimate his worth with his hand and [what it would be] without his […]

Arakhin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah deals with someone who dedicates half of his worth or value.   Mishnah Three 1)      [If one said:] “Half my value is upon me,” he must pay half his evaluation. 2)      [But if he said,] “The value of one half of me he is upon me,” […]

Arakhin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a person who vows another person’s worth or value.   Mishnah Four 1)      If he said: “The value of so-and-so is upon me,” if both the vower and the subject of the vow died, then the heirs must pay it. 2)      [If he said,] […]

Arakhin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Introduction Since yesterday’s mishnah dealt with cases where a person dedicated the value of another person and then that person dies, today’s mishnah deals with a person who dedicated an animal or a house and then the animal dies or the house falls down.   Mishnah Five 1)      [If […]

Arakhin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Arakhin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Introduction This famous mishnah deals with how a court enforces a person to pay various obligations.   Mishnah Six 1)      With regard to those who made a vow of value: they take a pledge from them. 2)      With regard to those obligated to bring a hatat or asham: they […]

Arakhin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapter six deals with the consequences of dedicating one’s property to the Temple. How is the money collected? How does his dedication effect his other obligations? These and other questions are addressed in this mishnah and in the subsequent ones.   Mishnah Two 1)      [The property] of orphans […]

Arakhin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah continues to deal with the case of a husband who dedicates his property to the Temple while still owing his wife her ketubah money.   Mishnah Two 1)      A man who dedicates his possessions to the sanctuary while he is still liable for his wife’s kethubah […]

Arakhin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah relates to mishnah 5:6, where we learned that the court take pledges (objects of value) in order to force a person to pay his vows of value. Today we learn that certain items are not taken by the collector.   Mishnah Three 1)      Even though they […]

Arakhin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s, which discussed what property the court seizes when taking a pledge from one who owes the Temple money for his vow.   Mishnah Four 1)      If he had many [tools] of one kind, and few of another kind, they may not […]

Arakhin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Five   Introduction Today’s mishnah continues to deal with how the Temple assesses a person’s belongings if they have dedicated all of their property to the Temple.    Mishnah Five 1)      Whether one consecrates his property or evaluates himself, it [the Sanctuary] has no claim to his wife’s garment or his […]

Arakhin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapter seven and the beginning of chapter eight deal with the laws concerning a person who dedicates his ancestral field to the Temple. These laws are found in Leviticus 27. 16 If anyone consecrates to the Lord any land that he holds, its assessment shall be in accordance […]

Arakhin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      It is all the same whether the owner or anyone else [redeems the field]. 2)      What is the difference between the owner and any other man? The owner must add one fifth, whereas any other man need not add one fifth.   Explanation The reckoning of […]

Arakhin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Three   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the continuation of the verses about dedicating one’s “and of possession.” These verses read: 20“But if he does not redeem the land, and the land is sold to another, it shall no longer be redeemable: 21 when it is released in the jubilee, the […]

Arakhin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four   Introduction The rabbis now debate what happens to the land if it is not redeemed before the Jubilee. This is explained in verses 20-21, “But if he does not redeem the land, and the land is sold to another, it shall no longer be redeemable: when it is released […]

Arakhin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If one bought a field from his father, and his father died and afterwards he consecrated it, it is considered a field of possession.   2)      If he consecrated it and afterwards his father died, then it is considered a field acquired by purchase, the words […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah begins to deal with the laws of consecrating one’s inherited field at a time when the Jubilee was no longer observed. The mishnah describes a time when the Temple is still standing, meaning that the law of the Jubilee was not observed during the Second Temple […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      If one said: “I will acquire it for ten selas,” and another, “[for] twenty”, and another “for thirty”, and another “for forty”, and another “for fifty”, a)      If he [that bid] fifty reneged, they take pledges from his property up to ten selas.    b)      If […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah deals with a case where the owner of the field is slightly outbid by another. The complicating factor is that the owner has to add an extra fifth, thereby increasing the profit gained by the Temple. Sometimes, a lower bid by the owner is actually better […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Four   Introduction The remainder of chapter eight deals with Leviticus 27:28: “But of all that anyone owns, be it man or beast or land of his holding, nothing that he has proscribed for the Lord may be sold or redeemed; every proscribed thing is totally consecrated to the Lord.” From […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If one proscribes his son or his daughter, or his Hebrew slave or female slave, or the field which he acquired by purchase, they are not considered [validly] proscribed, for one can proscribe something that does not belong to him. 2)      Priests and Levites cannot proscribe […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 6

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Six   Introduction In today’s mishnah the sages and Rabbi Judah ben Batera disagree as to whether things that are proscribed without specification go to the priests or to a fund for Temple repairs. We should note that the first says, “every proscribed thing is totally consecrated to the Lord.” The […]

Arakhin, Chapter 8, Mishnah 7

Arakhin, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Today’s mishnah explains how one proscribes something that is already holy.   Mishnah Seven 1)      A man may proscribe his holy things, whether they are most holy things or less holy things. 2)      If [they had been] consecrated as a vow, he must give their value, if as […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 1

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the laws of selling one’s ancestral land to another person when the Jubilee was still observed. Concerning this law, Leviticus 25 states: 13In this year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his holding. 14 When you sell property to your neighbor, or […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 2

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah continues to deal with how one redeems one’s ancestral field.   Mishnah Two 1)      If he sold it to the first for one hundred [denars] and the first sold it to the second for two hundred, then he need reckon only with the first, as it […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 3

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah and the remainder of the chapter deal with Leviticus 25:29-35, the verses that talk about a person selling a home within a walled city. The seller has one year to redeem his home, and if he does not redeem it, it becomes the property of the […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 4

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If the [last] day of the twelve months has arrived and it was not redeemed, it becomes his permanent [possession]. 2)      This applies whether he bought it or received it as a gift, as it is said: “beyond reclaim” (Leviticus 25:30). 3)      In earlier times, he […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 5

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      Whatever is within the [city] wall is regarded as the houses in a walled city, with the exception of fields. a)      Rabbi Meir says: even fields. 2)      A house built into the wall: a)      Rabbi Judah says: it is not considered a house within a walled […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 6

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Six   Introduction Houses in cities that are not surrounded by walls are not treated in the same way as house in walled cities. These are called “houses in courtyards” and we will the halakhot which govern them tomorrow. Our mishnah discusses what cities count as being walled.   Mishnah Six […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 7

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Leviticus 25:31 reads, “But houses in courtyards that have no surrounding walls shall be classed as open country: they may be redeemed, and they shall be released through the Jubilee.” Our mishnah discusses how we treat houses in walled cities.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Houses in courtyards—we accord […]

Arakhin, Chapter 9, Mishnah 8

Arakhin, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Houses owned by Levites in the cities that were allotted to them have rules that differ from those that apply to houses owned by Israelites. This is states in Leviticus 25:32-33:   32 As for the cities of the Levites, the houses in the cities they hold — […]

Introduction to Arakhin

Introduction to Arakhin   Our tractate is called Arakhin, the plural of “erekh” which means “value.” The tractate deals mostly with Leviticus 27, whose topic is evaluating people, animals and land whose value were donated to the Temple. For instance, a person who says, “My value (erekh) is upon me” means to say that he […]

Learn by Email

Mishnah Yomit

Learn one Mishnah each day with the Conservative Yeshiva's Mishnah Yomit, prepared by faculty member Dr. Joshua Kulp.