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.


Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah teaches some general rules with regard to who may slaughter and when.   Mishnah One 1)      All may slaughter, and their slaughtering is valid, except a deaf-mute, an imbecile or a minor, lest they mess up [the animal] through their slaughtering. a)      And if any of […]

Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to provide general rules with regard to slaughtering including the instrument with which one slaughters. We should note that modern halakhah dictates that Jewish slaughter must be done only with an extremely sharp knife, one designed specially for such a purpose. The Mishnah still reflects […]

Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction Slaughtering must be performed on the animal’s neck below the larynx, preferably below the first hard ring of the trachea and up to the place where the bronchial tubes begin to branch. Cutting outside of this area is called “hagramah” and renders the animal invalid. Our mishnah deals […]

Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction Animals are slaughtered and sacrificed by having their throats slit. Non-sacrificial birds are also slaughtered in this manner. However, sacrificial birds are slaughtered by a process called “nipping” which is done from the back of the neck. For more information on “nipping” see Zevahim 6:4. Our mishnah compares […]

Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction Yesterday’s mishnah concluded by noting that the place on the neck where slaughtering is performed is exactly where nipping cannot be performed and vice versa. The remainder of our chapter deals with other opposite types of situations. At first these deal with sacrificial issues, but then they move on […]

Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      [The method of killing] which renders the red cow valid renders the heifer invalid, and the method which renders the heifer valid renders the red cow invalid. 2)      [The disability] which does not disqualify priests disqualifies Levites, and [the disability] which does not disqualify Levites disqualifies […]

Hullin, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Hullin, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The final mishnah of our chapter continues to describe cases where a halakhah is opposite in different situations.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Temed: a)      Before it has fermented it may not be bought with second tithe money and it renders a mikveh invalid;   b)      After it has fermented […]

Hullin, Chapter 10, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Ten, Mishnah One   Introduction Deuteronomy 18:3 states, “This then shall be the priests’ due from the people: Everyone who offers a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep, must give the shoulder, the cheeks and the stomach to the priest.” Our chapter is concerned with these gifts given to the priest.   […]

Hullin, Chapter 10, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Two   Introduction An animal that has a permanent physical blemish cannot be sacrificed. Our mishnah distinguishes between cases where the blemish preceded the consecration of the animal, versus cases where the consecration preceded the blemish.   Mishnah Two 1)      All consecrated animals whose permanent physical blemish preceded their consecration and […]

Hullin, Chapter 10, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      A first-born got mixed up with a hundred other animals: a)      If a hundred [and one] persons slaughtered them all, they are all exempt from the gifts.    b)      If one person slaughtered them all, only one animal is exempt from the gifts. 2)      If a […]

Hullin, Chapter 10, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      A convert who converted and owned a cow: a)      If he slaughtered it before he converted, he is exempt from giving the gifts. b)      If [he slaughtered it] after he converted, he is liable. c)      If there was a doubt about it, he is exempt, for […]

Hullin, Chapter 11, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah One   Introduction Our chapter deals with the mitzvah of giving the priest the first of the wool shorn from sheep (“the first of the fleece”). Deuteronomy 18:4 states, “You shall also give him [the priest] the first fruits of your new grain and wine and oil, and the first shearing […]

Hullin, Chapter 11, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah begins by explaining what the phrase “and only when there are many,” found at the end of yesterday’s mishnah. It then continues with other various aspects of this mitzvah.   Mishnah Two 1)      How much is “many”? a)      Bet Shammai say: [at least] two sheep, as […]

Hullin, Chapter 12, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah One   Introduction Deuteronomy 22:6-7 states: “If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. Let the mother go, […]

Hullin, Chapter 12, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Three 1)      An unclean bird—one is not obligated to let it go. 2)      If an unclean bird was sitting on the eggs of a clean bird, or a clean bird on the eggs of an unclean bird, one is not obligated to let it go. 3)      As to a […]

Hullin, Chapter 12, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If the mother was hovering [over the nest]: a)      If her wings touch the nest, one is obligated to let her go; b)      If her wings do not touch the nest, one is not obligated to let her go. 2)      If there was but one young […]

Hullin, Chapter 12, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If one took the mother with the young: a)      Rabbi Judah says: he has incurred [forty] lashes and he need not now let her go. b)      But the sages say: he must let her go, and he does not incur lashes. 2)      This is the general […]

Hullin, Chapter 12, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      One may not take the mother with the young even for the sake of purifying the metzora. 2)      If in respect of so light a commandment, which deals with that which is but worth an issar, the Torah said, “In order that you may fare well […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah returns to the subject of slaughtering. Slaughtering involves cutting the trachea and the esophagus. Our mishnah deals with a case where the slaughterer did not fully cut both organs.   Mishnah One 1)      If one cut one [of the organs of the throat] in the case […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 10

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Today’s mishnah is, in a sense, the mirror image of mishnah eight. Whereas yesterday we learned about one who slaughtered an animal for it to be an idolatrous sacrifice, in today’s mishnah we learn about one who slaughters an animal for it to be a Jewish sacrifice, but […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      If one slaughtered two animals simultaneously, the slaughtering is valid. 2)      If two persons held the knife and slaughtered, even if one cut higher up and the other cut lower down [in the neck], the slaughtering is valid.    Explanation Section one: As long as the […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction 1)      If he chopped off the head with one stroke, the slaughtering is invalid.    2)      He was slaughtering and he cut through the neck with one stroke, if the knife was as long as the neck, the slaughtering is valid.    a)      He was slaughtering and he […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction In our mishnah Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yeshevav argue about whether an animal that has been improperly slaughtered is a “nevelah” or a “terefah” two terms that I explained in the introduction to Hullin. While neither animal can be eaten, the nevelah causes impurity while the terefah doesn’t. […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction In order for food to become susceptible to impurity it must come into contact with one of seven liquids (see Leviticus 11:38). When an animal is slaughtered, assumedly blood will come out and render the meat susceptible to impurity. Our mishnah discusses a situation where an animal is […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah deals with slaughtering a dying animal. This would have been a very important issue because if the animal dies without having been slaughtered it becomes a nevelah and is inedible. Slaughtering a dying animal, therefore, would have been of utmost economic importance. However, for it to […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In our mishnah the sages debate whether an animal slaughtered on behalf of a non-Jew can be eaten by a Jew. The fear is that the animal was slaughtered as an idolatrous sacrifice and hence is prohibited.   Mishnah Seven 1)      If one slaughtered for a non-Jew, the […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a person who slaughters an animal for idolatrous purposes.   Mishnah Eight 1)      If one slaughtered [an animal] as a sacrifice to mountains, hills, seas, rivers, or deserts, the slaughtering is invalid. 2)      If two persons held a knife and slaughtered [an animal], one […]

Hullin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 9

Hullin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Our mishnah deals with various prohibitions concerning where one lets the blood flow from the animal’s neck when he slaughters. The point of the mishnah is to ensure that the way that Jews slaughter their animals does not look like the way that idolaters slaughter their animals. It […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction Exodus 22:30 states, “Meat in a field that is terefah you shall not eat, cast it to the dogs.” The word “terefah” literally means “torn apart by animals.” The rabbis assume that since another verse already forbade eating “nevelah,” which they interpret to mean any animal that was […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah lists cases in which defects do not render cattle terefah. Again, most of these are self-explanatory (as before, easier to picture for the veterinarians among us)   Mishnah Two And the following [defects] do not render cattle terefah: 1)      If the windpipe was pierced, or cracked […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction Today’s mishnah lists what defects render a bird a terefah.   Mishnah Three The following [defects] render birds terefah: 1)      If the esophagus was pierced, 2)      If the windpipe was severed; 3)      If a weasel struck [the bird] on the head in such a place as would render […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah teaches what defects do not render birds into a terefah.   Mishnah Four And the following [defects] do not render birds terefah: 1)      If the windpipe was pierced or cracked lengthwise; 2)      If a weasel struck it on the head in such a place as would […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah provides a few more criteria for determining if an animal is a terefah.   Mishnah Five 1)      [If an animal] suffered from congestion of the blood, or was overcome by smoke or by a cold, or if it ate oleander or chicken dung, or if it […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah provides the characteristics by which it can be determined whether a bird is clean (kosher) or unclean (tref, in modern terminology).   Mishnah Six 1)      The characteristics of cattle and of wild animals are stated in the Torah. 2)      The characteristics of birds are not stated, […]

Hullin, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Hullin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Some types of locusts are clean and can be eaten (see Leviticus 11:20-25). Our mishnah teaches the characteristics of locusts and fish that can be eaten.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Of locusts: all that have four legs, four wings, leaping legs, and wings covering the greater part of […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the status of the fetus within its mother’s womb, when it may be eaten by virtue of its mother having been properly slaughtered and when it may not.   Mishnah One 1)      If an animal was having difficulty giving birth and the fetus put […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction A first born animal is holy and if it dies must be buried. In contrast, the meat of other animals can be given to dogs to eat. Our mishnah deals with an animal having trouble giving birth to her first born.    Mishnah Two 1)      If an animal […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with ramifications of the notion that a fetus within its mother’s womb is considered to be a limb of its mother and not a separate life.   Mishnah Three 1)      If a fetus died within the womb [of its mother] and the shepherd […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction If a fetus sticks a limb out when being born and someone cuts off that limb before slaughtering the mother, the limb causes impurity as would a nevelah, as do all limbs taken from living animals. Our mishnah teaches that in this case the fetus that remains in […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with the status of a fetus found in its mother’s womb when she is slaughtered.   Mishnah Eight 1)      If one slaughtered an animal and found in it an eight months’ fetus, either living or dead, or a dead nine months fetus, he need […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah talks about two different subjects: 1) the status as a terefah an animal whose leg has been broken off; 2) a limb hanging from an animal and whether it is considered to still be part of the animal.   Mishnah Six 1)      If the hind legs […]

Hullin, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Hullin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the status of the amniotic sac found in a slaughtered animal.   Mishnah Seven 1)      If a person slaughtered an animal and found in it an amniotic sac, he who is not fastidious may eat it.    2)      It does not contract uncleanness, either […]

Hullin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction Leviticus 22:28 states, “When it comes to an ox or a sheep, it and its young you shall not slaughter on the same day.” Our chapter discusses this prohibition.   Mishnah One 1)      [The law of] “It and its young” applies both within the land of Israel and […]

Hullin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is a direct continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.   Mishnah Two 1)      If [the first animal was] unconsecrated and [the second] consecrated [and they were both slaughtered] outside [the sanctuary], the first is valid and [he who slaughtered it is] not liable, but [he who slaughtered] the […]

Hullin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three             Mishnah Three 1)      If a person slaughtered [an animal] and it was found to be terefah, or if he slaughtered [it as an offering] to idols, or if he slaughtered the red cow, or an ox which was condemned to be stoned, or a heifer whose neck was to […]

Hullin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of the end of yesterday’s mishnah, where we learned that there were four periods of the year when people ate more meat. This mishnah teaches us another ramification of the fact that there were four major times to eat meat during the year. […]

Hullin, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah, which I shall explain here and not below, teaches that when we reckon the day on which an animal was slaughtered, the night goes with the day that follows it. Thus if he slaughtered one animal at night and then the following day he slaughtered its […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Introduction Leviticus 17:13 states, “And if any Israelite or any stranger who resides among them hunts down (or traps) an animal or a bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.” From this verse we learn that when a person slaughters […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is very similar to 5:3, so see above for more references.   Mishnah Two 1)      If a person slaughtered [a wild animal or a bird] and it was found to be terefah, or if he slaughtered [it as an offering] to idols, or if he slaughtered […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three   Introduction In the beginning of the tractate we learned that if a deaf-mute, an imbecile (someone who is either crazy or perhaps retarded) or a minor slaughter an animal, the slaughtering is valid, but only if someone else watches them. If no one is watching, then we can assume […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If a person slaughtered a hundred wild animals in one place, one covering suffices for all. a)      If [he slaughtered] a hundred birds in one place, one covering suffices for all. 2)      If [he slaughtered] a wild animal and a bird in one place, one covering […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Five   Introduction Our mishnah deals with blood that comes out of a slaughtered bird or wild animal that then becomes mixed up with something else, either water, wine or blood.   Mishnah Five 1)      If the blood became mixed with water and it still has the color of blood, it […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 6

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah deals with whether all blood must be covered up or just some of it.   Mishnah Six 1)      The blood which spurted out and that which is upon the knife must also be covered up. 2)      Rabbi Judah says: when is this the case? When there […]

Hullin, Chapter 6, Mishnah 7

Hullin, Chapter Six, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The Torah states that the blood should be covered with “earth (afar).”  The rabbis expand this to include anything in which plants grow, just as they grow in earth. The blood may not be covered with something in which plants do not grow.   Mishnah Seven With what […]

Hullin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Hullin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Introduction At the conclusion of the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel, Genesis 32:33 states, “That is why the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob’s hip was wrenched at the thigh muscle.” […]

Hullin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Hullin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      One may send to a non-Jew a thigh in which the sciatic nerve has not been removed, because its place is known.  2)      When a person removes the sciatic nerve he must remove all of it.   a)      Rabbi Judah says: only so much as is […]

Hullin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 3

Hullin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If a person ate an olive’s bulk of the sciatic nerve, he incurs forty stripes. 2)      If he ate all of it and it was not as much as an olive’s bulk, he is liable.   3)      If he ate an olive’s bulk of it from […]

Hullin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 4

Hullin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with whether a thigh that is cooked before the sciatic nerve has been removed is prohibited.   Mishnah Four 1)      If a thigh was cooked together with the sciatic nerve and there was enough [of the nerve] as to impart a flavor [to the thigh], […]

Hullin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 5

Hullin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with a sciatic nerve that is cooked with other permitted nerves. Afterwards, the mishnah continues to deal with the subject of prohibited foods that are cooked with permitted foods.   Mishnah Five 1)      A sciatic nerve which was cooked with other [permitted] nerves: a)      If […]

Hullin, Chapter 7, Mishnah 6

Hullin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Six   Introduction In this interesting mishnah, the sages argue whether the prohibition of the sciatic nerve applies to non-kosher (unclean) animals.   Mishnah Six 1)      It applies to clean animals but not to unclean. a)      Rabbi Judah says, even to unclean animals. 2)      Rabbi Judah said: was not the sciatic […]

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