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.


Introduction to Tractate Tamid

Introduction to Tractate Tamid   Tractate Tamid describes how the sacrificial service was performed in the Temple in the morning, up until the sacrifice of the morning Tamid (daily offering). There are almost no disputes in the entire tractate, the only dispute being found in 5:2. The Tamid offering is described in Numbers 28:3-8:   […]

Tamid, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Mishnah Tamid begins with a description of the priests sleeping in the Temple, before their daily work began.    Mishnah One 1)      In three places the priests keep watch in the Temple: in the chamber of Avtinas, in the chamber of the spark, and in the fire chamber. […]

Tamid, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      Anyone who desired to remove the ashes from the altar used to rise early and bathe before the superintendent came. 2)      At what time did the superintendent come? He did not always come at the same time; sometimes he came just at cock-crow, sometimes a little […]

Tamid, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      He took the key and opened the small door, and went from the fire chamber into the Temple courtyard, and the priests went in after him carrying two lighted torches. 2)      They divided into two groups, one of which went along the portico to the east, […]

Tamid, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Tamid, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with clearing the ashes from the altar.   Mishnah Four 1)      The one who had merited to clear the ashes, would get ready to clear the ashes. 2)      They said to him: “Be careful not to touch any vessel until you have washed your hands […]

Tamid, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      When his fellow priests saw that he had descended, they came running and hastened to wash their hands and feet in the laver. 2)      They then took the shovels and the forks and went up to the top of the altar. a)      The limbs and pieces […]

Tamid, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      They then began to throw the ashes on to the heap (tapuah).    a)      This heap was in the middle of the altar, and sometimes there was as much as three hundred kor on it. 2)      On festivals they did not use to clear away the […]

Tamid, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      They then began to take up the logs to place onto the fire. 2)      Were all kinds of wood valid for the fire? a)      All kinds of wood were valid for the fire except vine and olive wood. b)      But what they mostly used were boughs […]

Tamid, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Tamid, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      He then arranged a large pile on the east side of the altar, with its open side on the east, while the inner ends of the [selected] logs touched the ash heap. 2)      Spaces were left between the logs in which they kindled the brushwood.   […]

Tamid, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Tamid, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      They picked out from there some good fig-tree branches to make a second fire for the incense near the south-western corner some four cubits to the north of it, using as much wood as he judged sufficient to form five seahs of coals, and on the […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction The altar is heating up and ready to go. It’s now time to start figuring out who is going to do what in the Temple that day.   Mishnah One 1)      The superintendent then said to them: come and cast lots, to see who is to slaughter, and […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Before the sacrifices were offered, they had to make sure that it was light outside.   Mishnah Two 1)      He then said to them: Go out and see if it is yet time for the slaughter. a)      If the time had come, the one who saw would say, […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      He said to them: Go out and bring a lamb from the chamber of lambs. 2)      Now the lamb’s chamber was in the north-western corner. a)      And there were four chambers there — the chamber of lambs, the chamber of the seals, the chamber of the […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      They went into the chamber of the vessels and they took out ninety-three vessels of silver and gold. 2)      They gave the animal for the daily sacrifice a drink from a cup of gold.   3)      Although it had been examined on the previous evening it […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction The mishnah now describes the bringing of the tamid to the slaughter house, and provides a description of the slaughter house.   Mishnah Five 1)      The priest who had won the right to slaughter the tamid takes it along with him to the slaughter house, and those who […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      Those who had won the right to clear the ashes from the inner altar and from the candlestick would go first with four vessels in their hands — the teni, the kuz and two keys. 2)      The teni resembled a large tarkav of gold and held […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      He then came to the small opening on the north. 2)      The great gate had two small openings, one on the north and one on the south. 3)      No one ever went in by the openings on the south, about which it is stated explicitly in […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Our mishnah describes some of the noises and sounds made in the Temple. In an exaggerated fashion, the rabbis claim that these noises could be heard in Jericho. Due to the fact that Jericho is probably 30-40 km’s from the Temple, these claims are clearly hyperbole. I shall […]

Tamid, Chapter 3, Mishnah 9

Tamid, Chapter Three, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Our mishnah discusses removing the ashes from the inner altar and the menorah, both of which were inside the Sanctuary.   Mishnah Nine 1)      The one who had been chosen for clearing the ashes from the inner altar went in carrying the teni which he set down in […]

Tamid, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction The mishnah now describes the slaughtering of the morning tamid.   Mishnah One 1)      They would not tie up the lamb but rather they would string its legs together.    2)      Those who merited [to bring up] the limbs took hold of it. a)      Thus it was strung […]

Tamid, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction The mishnah now describes in detail how the tamid was flayed. I think that most of this mishnah is self-explanatory, especially after it has been translated. The flaying is described in great detail, because it was an important part of the sacrificial process. Today, when most of us are […]

Tamid, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction Today’s mishnah gives an intricate description of the butchering of the tamid offering. Most of the mishnah is self-explanatory (although unless you’re a butcher or a scientist who has dissected a sheep, you might have trouble picturing the parts). By the end of the mishnah, each of the […]

Tamid, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction Today’s mishnah discusses the blessings and verses that the priests would recite in the Chamber of Hewn Stone before the tamid sacrifice was placed on the altar. Historically, this mishnah is of great importance. Scholars have often asked if Jewish prayer as we know it today existed during […]

Tamid, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      He said to them: those who are new to the incense come and draw lots, and who ever won, won. 2)      He then said: new and old, come and draw lots to see who shall take up the limbs from the ascent to the altar.   3)      […]

Tamid, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction The lotteries are now over, the winners have won and the losers, well, they have not won. Our mishnah discusses what those who did not win any lottery do.   Mishnah Three 1)      He then handed them over to the attendants, who stripped them of their garments, and […]

Tamid, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Tamid, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah describes the ladle and spoon that held the incense.   Mishnah Four 1)      The one who had been selected to offer the incense took up the ladle, which was in shape like a big tarkav of gold, and it held three kavs, 2)      And the [small] […]

Tamid, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Tamid, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      The priest who had won the firepan, would take the silver pan and ascend to the top of the altar and clear away the live coals to this side and that, and he would rake [the coals]. a)      He then went down and poured them into […]

Tamid, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Tamid, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      When they came between the Sanctuary and the altar, one took the magrefah and threw it between the Sanctuary and the altar. 2)      People could not hear one another speak in Jerusalem from the noise of the magrefah. 3)      It served three purposes: i)        When a […]

Tamid, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Introduction The priests now make their way into the Sanctuary.   Mishnah One 1)      They began to ascend the steps of the Sanctuary.   2)      Those who had won the right to clear the ashes from the inner altar and from the candlestick went in front.   3)      The one who […]

Tamid, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two The one who had won the right to bring in the firepan made a heap of the coals on the top of the altar and then spread them about with the end of the firepan and bowed down and went out.   Explanation This mishnah describes what […]

Tamid, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      The one who had won the right to the incense took the dish from the middle of the spoon and gave it to his friend or his relative. 2)      If some of it spilled into the spoon, he would put it into his hands. 3)      They […]

Tamid, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Tamid, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      When the high priest went in to bow down, three priests supported him, one by his right and one by his left and one by the precious stones.  2)      When the superintendent heard the sound of the footsteps of the high priest as he was about […]

Tamid, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Tamid, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      They went and stood on the steps of the Sanctuary. 2)      The first ones stood at the south side of their fellow priests with five vessels in their hands: one held the teni, the second the kuz, the third the firepan, the fourth the dish, and […]

Tamid, Chapter 7, Mishnah 3

Tamid, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Three   Introduction With this mishnah, the sacrifice of the tamid comes to its thunderous conclusion. Mishnah Three 1)      If the high priest wished to burn the offerings [himself], he would go up the ascent with the deputy high priest at his right. 2)      When he reached the middle of the […]

Tamid, Chapter 7, Mishnah 4

Tamid, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah lists the psalms that were chanted by the Levites each day in the Temple. Today we still recite these Psalms in the synagogue, and before we say them we say, “This is the Psalm that they used to say in the Temple.” The mishnah concludes with […]

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

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