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.

Betzah

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction The first part of the first mishnah of Betzah is about its namesake, an egg born on Yom Tov. The second part is associated with the first part because both contain debates between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel, and in both Bet Hillel rules strictly.   Mishnah One […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 10

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Ten   Introduction The final mishnah of chapter one discusses sending clothing as a gift on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Ten 1)      One may send clothes, whether they are sewn up or not sewn up, and even though there is kil’ayim (mixed wool and linen) in them, provided they are necessary […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah deals with slaughtering animals on Yom Tov.    Mishnah Two 1)      He who slaughters a wild animal or a bird on a festival — Bet Shammai says: he may dig with a pronged tool and cover up [the blood], but Bet Hillel says: he may not […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues with two more debates between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel over what types of food preparations one can do on Yom Tov. Today’s mishnah again deals with muktzeh, the concept that something that was designated for use on Yom Tov or Shabbat may not subsequently […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that in order to slaughter and eat doves on Yom Tov one must designate them for use before Yom Tov begins.  Otherwise they are muktzeh.  Our mishnah discusses what happens if he designated doves before Yom Tov but then is not sure that […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah continues with four more debates between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel on the laws of Yom Tov.   Mishnah Five 1)      Bet Shammai says: one may not remove shutters on Yom Tov. a)      But Bet Hillel permits even to return them to their place. 2)      Bet […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction In this mishnah Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel debate whether one may carry to a priest hallah and priestly gifts on Yom Tov.  Hallah is dough which one must separate from the dough that one kneads to bake bread (Numbers 15:17-21).  Priestly gifts refers to the parts of […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with grinding spices on Yom Tov.  Everyone agrees that they can be ground.  The debate is over whether they can be done in the normal way or they must be done differently somehow.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Bet Shammai says: spices may be crushed with […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah deals with how one separates out the dirt and inedible parts from a pile of beans on Yom Tov.  “Sorting” is one of the prohibited labors on Shabbat, but it is permitted on Yom Tov because it is done in preparation of food.    Mishnah Eight […]

Betzah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 9

Betzah, Chapter One, Mishnah Nine   Introduction In our mishnah the two houses debate what types of food gifts one person may send to his neighbor on Yom Tov.  The problem with gifts would occur if they cannot be used on Yom Tov itself.    Mishnah Nine 1)      Bet Shammai says: one may not send […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with preparing food on Yom Tov to use on Shabbat which falls the day after.  While cooking on Yom Tov is permitted, it is only permitted to cook on Yom Tov for that day. This mishnah discusses what is called “eruv tavshilin.”  This is a […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 10

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah is here because of its connection with the previous mishnah, and not because of any connection with the laws of Yom Tov.  It continues to deal with the impurity of vessels.   Mishnah Ten 1)      A child’s cart is susceptible to the impurity of midras, and […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction In mishnaic times it was customary for people who observed the laws of purity to immerse vessels and for people to immerse before Yom Tov so that everything would be pure.  In our mishnah Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel debate whether or not one can immerse on Shabbat […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with immersing things on Yom Tov in order to purify them.   Mishnah Three 1)      They agree that one may effect surface contact for [unclean] water in a stone vessel in order to purify it, but one may not immerse [it]; 2)      And […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with bringing certain sacrifices on Yom Tov and laying one’s hands upon them (see Leviticus 3:2).   Mishnah Four 1)      Bet Shammai says: one may bring peace-offerings [on Yom Tov] but may not lay [hands] upon them, but one may not bring burnt-offerings [on Yom […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction It is permitted to make a fire on Yom Tov in order that one can cook food.  Our mishnah discusses making a fire so that one can heat up water to wash one’s feet.    Mishnah Five 1)      Bet Shammai says: a man may not heat water for […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction Mishnah six contains three cases in which Rabban Gamaliel ruled like Beth Shammai in connection with the laws of Yom Tov.  This mishnah is also found in its entirety in tractate Eduyot 3:10.   Mishnah Six In three cases Rabban Gamaliel was strict like the words of Beth Shammai. […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In mishnah six we learned of three cases where Rabban Gamaliel was strict like Beth Shammai.  In mishnah seven we learn three cases where he adopted a more lenient position than the other Sages.   Mishnah Seven Also he declared three decisions of a lenient character: 1)      One […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Mishnah twelve contains three cases where Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was more lenient than the other Sages.  We should note that not all of these sections deal with the laws of Yom Tov.   Mishnah Eight   Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah allows three things and the Sages forbid them: […]

Betzah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 9

Betzah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah is brought here on account of section three in yesterday’s mishnah which dealt with using a pepper-mill on Yom Tov.  As an aside, the mishnah teaches the susceptibility of a pepper-mill to impurities.   Mishnah Nine A pepper-mill is susceptible to impurity on account of [it […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with catching fish, fowl or game on Yom Tov.  While slaughtering an animal is permitted on Yom Tov because it is done in the preparation of food, catching is not permitted because it could have been done the day before.  Our mishnah defines what is […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that one may not hunt (trap) animals on Yom Tov because he could do it the day before. Today we learn about taking animals out of traps on Yom Tov when the traps were set before Yom Tov.   Mishnah Two 1)      Traps […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction In this mishnah we learn two laws concerning slaughtering an animal on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Three 1)      One may not slaughter [on Yom Tov] an animal which is about to die unless there is time enough on that day to eat from it as much as an […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction A first-born animal may not be eaten until it becomes blemished (Deuteronomy 15:21-22).  Experts would determine whether an animal was blemished.  Our mishnah deals with a first-born that fell into a pit on Yom Tov and may have been blemished there.  The debate is over whether they may […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with what may be done with a beast (a cow, sheep, goat or bull) that has died on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Five 1)      If a beast died [on Yom Tov] it may not be moved from its place. 2)      And it happened that they […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction As we have learned many times, it is permitted to slaughter an animal on Yom Tov.  In the mishnaic times most people would have bought shares in an animal from a butcher before the day the animal was slaughtered and then paid for it on the day it […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with the laws of slaughtering and divvying up meat on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Seven 1)      One may not sharpen a knife on a festival, but one may draw it over another knife. 2)      A man may not say to a butcher, “Weigh […]

Betzah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Betzah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction After having dealt with how one may get meat from a butcher on Yom Tov, our mishnah deals with how one can buy other food supplies from others or from a storekeeper.  We will see again that the mishnah is very concerned with protecting the atmosphere of Yom […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction Even though carrying is allowed on Yom Tov, he should not carry things the same way that he carries things during the week because this makes it look like “business as usual.”   Mishnah One 1)      One who carries jars of wine from place to place, he may […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah deals with the places where a person can collect kindling wood in order to cook on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Two 1)      One may not take wood from a sukkah but only from [what is] next to it. 2)      One may bring in from the field […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction The first topic of this mishnah is chopping wood to make firewood on Yom Tov. The second topic is opening up a sealed storage room to take out produce. Both of these topics touch at least indirectly upon the subject of muktzeh.   Mishnah Three 1)      One may […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with several laws concerning the use and production of lamps on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Four 1)      One may not make a hole in a [lump of clay for use as a] lamp because that is making a vessel. 2)      One may not make charcoal […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with certain preparations made in order to facilitate cooking.   Mishnah Five 1)      One may not break up a potsherd or cut paper in order to roast on it a salty fish. 2)      And one may not rake out an oven or a range, but […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction In the middle of yesterday’s mishnah we learned that chips of wood can be used only as kindling. Today’s mishnah continues to discuss this subject.   Mishnah Six 1)      Rabbi Eliezer says: a man may take a chip from that which is lying before him to pick his […]

Betzah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Betzah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The first section of this mishnah teaches that it is forbidden to produce new fire on Yom Tov.  This is related to the prohibition of “muktzeh” which was the topic of yesterday’s mishnah.  The second half of the mishnah continues to deal with the laws of muktzeh.   […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with laws concerning fruit set out to dry and things that one may and may not do with this fruit on Yom Tov.   Mishnah One 1)      One may let down fruit through a trap-door on Yom Tov but not on Shabbat. 2)      […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction This long mishnah deals with three categories of acts that are prohibited by the rabbis on Shabbat and on Yom Tov. They are all considered to be prohibited “derabbanan”, by the rabbis and not by the Torah.  The three categories are: Shevut—mandated rest on Shabbat.  These are activities […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction The final three mishnayot of the chapter discuss Shabbat border limits, a topic which was discussed in far greater length in tractate Eruvin.  The Shabbat border limit is 2000 cubits to each side of the city. One can set up an eruv, a meal, at the end of […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with the Shabbat/Yom Tov border limits placed on things. Since the mishnah deals with carrying, the rules are only applicable to Yom Tov—on Shabbat all carrying is prohibited.     Mishnah Four 1)      One who borrows a vessel from his neighbor on the […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Introduction The first section of the mishnah teaches that while a live coal is considered as having substance, a flame does not have any substance. The second half of the mishnah deals with the restrictions on the carrying of water drawn from a well.   Mishnah Five 1)      A […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah deals with a person whose produce is in another town and he wishes to retrieve it on Yom Tov.   Mishnah Six 1)      If one has his produce in another town, and the inhabitants of that city made an eruv in order to bring to him […]

Betzah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 7

Betzah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The first section of the last mishnah of Betzah deals with guests taking food home with them. The last part of the mishnah deals with giving water to animals.   Mishnah Seven 1)      If one invited guests to his home, they may not take away with them [any] […]

Introduction to Tractate Betzah

Introduction to Tractate Betzah   Tractate Betzah (Egg) teaches the laws governing Yom Tov (the festival), which means the first and last days of Pesah, the first day of Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Shavuot.  It is usually called “Betzah” after the first word of the first mishnah, although it was alternatively called Tractate Yom Tov.  […]

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