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.


Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah delineates who is obligated to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the three festivals.  Exodus 23:17 says, “Three times a year all your male shall appear before the Sovereign, the Lord.”  Our mishnah elaborates on this verse.   Mishnah One 1)      All are obligated to appear […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction In this mishnah the two houses debate the minimum value of the pilgrimage offering and the hagigah offering.  These two offerings were explained in the introduction to the tractate.   Mishnah Two Bet Shammai say: the pilgrimage-offering (re’eyah) must be worth [at least] two pieces of silver and […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction When people would make their pilgrimage festivals to Jerusalem, they would usually bring with them money which they had used to redeem their second tithe.  Second tithe can be eaten by its owners but only in Jerusalem. To make things easier for people the Torah allows them to […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction During the festival it was a mitzvah to celebrate by eating meat. This was done by bringing celebratory thanksgiving offerings to the Temple and eating them in Jerusalem.  Our mishnah teaches that both Israelites and priests can use animals and meat dedicated or made holy for other purposes […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction As I have explained in the previous mishnayot, the pilgrimage offering is a wholly burnt offering and is not eaten, whereas the celebratory offering is a thanksgiving offering and is eaten.  Our mishnah gives four different possibilities for how much of each offering a person should bring.   […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah teaches that if one did not bring the hagigah offering on the first day of the festival, he has the rest of the festival to bring it.  This is derived from Leviticus 23:41 which says, “You shall observe it as a festival of the Lord for […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The end of yesterday’s mishnah brought a quote from Ecclesiastes 1:15 about a wrong that cannot be corrected.  Our mishnah continues to discuss this verse.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says: Who is “a twisted thing that cannot be made straight?” He who has intercourse […]

Hagigah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Hagigah, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah, and the first two mishnayot of the next chapter, do not deal with the hagigah. Rather they are loosely connected to the end of the previous mishnah concerning the Torah scholar who separates from the Torah.  Our mishnah deals with one issue which may have caused […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah is brought here because like yesterday’s mishnah it may refer to certain reasons why sages abandoned the world of Torah.  There are some subjects which are, according to our mishnah, dangerous to speculate upon or to discuss in front of the masses.  Pondering upon the unknowable […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah is possibly the most unique mishnah in the entire Mishnah.  It contains a debate about whether or not a person can lay their hands on a sacrifice on Yom Tov, the first and last days of a festival.  According to Leviticus 1:4 and other parallel verses, […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction In this mishnah Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel debate which sacrifices may be brought on Yom Tov and whether it is permitted to lay hands on them. The second of these debates is the same as the debate in yesterday’s mishnah.     Mishnah Three Bet Shammai say: […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction Atzeret (the rabbinic term for the festival of Shavuot) is the only festival that lasts for just one day.  Since Bet Shammai holds that the wholly burnt offering brought as the pilgrimage offering cannot be offered on Yom Tov but they agree that this sacrifice must be offered […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction From here until the end of the tractate the mishnah teaches laws of purity and impurity. The reason why these laws are here is that when Israel would come to Jerusalem and to the Temple for the festival they had to be pure in order to eat their […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah deals with the intention that one has to have when one immerses. There are various levels of holy objects ranked below from lowest to highest:  1) Unconsecrated food. 2)  Second tithe (eaten by its owners in Jerusalem). 3) Terumah (separated from produce and given to priests). […]

Hagigah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Hagigah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The vessel that a zav or zavah (a man or woman who had an unusual genital discharge) steps, sits, leans or lies upon is impure.  This vessel will now transmit impurity to those who touch it. This type of impurity is called “midras” which means “stepped upon.”  In […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction In the previous two mishnayot we learned that the rules regarding eating “sacred things,” namely sacrifices, are more stringent than the rules regarding eating terumah.   Our mishnah teaches several more aspects in which eating sacred things is treated more stringently.   Mishnah One 1)      Greater stringency applies to […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to provide aspects of purity/impurity in sacrifices are treated with greater stringency than terumah.   Mishnah Two 1)      Vessels that have been finished in purity require immersion [before they are used] for sacred things, but not [before they are used] for terumah. 2)      A vessel […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction Another two stringencies for sacred things.   Mishnah Three 1)      They may eat dry foods with impure hands when it comes to terumah, but not when it comes to sacred things. 2)      The one who has not yet buried his dead (an onen) and one who lacks atonement […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah begins to teach ways in which terumah is treated with greater stringency than sacrifices.  The central issue in this mishnah is how much to trust an am haaretz, an unlearned person, when he tells you that he preserved the purity of a food item.  As we […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction The previous mishnah discussed when a person is trusted with regard to the purity of his things.  Today’s mishnah discusses another such rule—when is a pottery maker trusted that he has preserved the purity of his pots.   Mishnah Five 1)      From Modi’im inwards [the potters] are trusted […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with the question of when to trust a person when he says that he has not made vessels impure.   Mishnah Six 1)      Tax-collectors who entered a house, and similarly thieves who restored [stolen] vessels are believed if they say, “We have not […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction During the festival the am haaretz, the uneducated “person of the land” is believed with regard to issues of purity far more than he is during the rest of the year.  The first part of our mishnah deals with how far this trustworthiness extends. The second part deals with […]

Hagigah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The final mishnah of the chapter, tractate and seder (game, set and match) explains how they purified the Temple’s vessels.   Mishnah Eight 1)      How did they undertake the purification of the Temple court?  They immersed the vessels which were in the Temple, and they say to them: […]

Introduction to Hagigah

Introduction to Hagigah   Tractate Hagigah deals with the three sacrifices that according to the rabbis a person had to bring on all three festivals, Sukkot, Pesah and Shavuot.  The first of these sacrifices is called the “Hagigah.”  The rabbis derived the concept of the Hagigah from the word “hag” used in the context of […]

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