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.


Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 12

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction This mishnah discusses the right of the wife to remain in her husband’s home after his death and to be maintained by his estate.  The woman does not have this right once she has actually collected her ketubah money.  As we shall see in our mishnah, there were […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss financial rights that a father accrues from his daughter.   Mishnah Two 1)                     If a man gave his daughter in betrothal and she was divorced, [and then] he gave her [again] in betrothal and she was widowed, her ketubah belongs to him.   2)                     […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction Deuteronomy 22:13-21 discusses a man who makes a virginity claim against his wife.  Verse 19 states that if he was found to be lying “They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father; for the man has defamed a virgin in […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah delineates basic rights that a father has over his daughter and that a husband has over his wife.  In addition the mishnah outlines basic responsibilities that a husband has to his wife.  We can easily see from this mishnah that the society that the Mishnah envisions/reflects […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah discusses the exact point in which a betrothed woman ceases to be in her father’s domain and is transferred to her husband’s domain.  We should note that different sources reflect different answers to this question.  The question is of import because as long as she is […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction Since previous mishnayoth have been dealing with the rights a father has over his daughter, our mishnah deals with his obligations to feed, clothe and shelter her.    Mishnah Six 1)                     A father is not obligated to maintain his daughter. 2)                     This exposition was made by Rabbi Elazar […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Introduction The mishnah now begins to delineate a list of guarantees that a woman has that are normally written into a ketubah but that even if they are not included in her personal ketubah, she nevertheless receives.  In other words, these are rights guaranteed to any wife regardless of […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 8

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah discusses a husband’s responsibility to ransom his wife if she is taken captive.   Mishnah Eight If he did not write for her, “if you are taken captive I will ransom you and take you again as my wife”, or in the case of a priest’s […]

Ketubot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 9

Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah continues to teach that a husband is obligated to pay for the ransom of his wife.  In addition, it teaches that a husband is responsible to pay for his wife’s medical costs, should she be injured or become ill.  However, there is a difference between the […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction As we have learned on several occasions, the minimum ketubah payment is 200 zuz.  Our mishnah talks about one who wants to add on to that amount or one who wants to subtract from the amount.   Mishnah One 1)                     Although [the Sages] have said:  a virgin collects […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah discusses the waiting period between betrothal and marriage.    Mishnah Two 1)                     A virgin is given twelve months from the [time her intended] husband claimed her, [in which] to prepare herself for marriage.   a)                                 Just as [such a period] is given to the woman, so is […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.  It continues to discuss when a woman may begin to eat terumah.   Mishnah Three 1)                     A yavam [who is a priest] does not allow [his sister-in-law] to eat terumah.   2)                     If she had spent six months waiting for her […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah discusses a man who consecrates his wife’s handiwork to the Temple.  The question is whether or not such a consecration is valid.  The mishnah often uses this type of construct to show the degree of possession a person has over something, the idea being that a […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Introduction Yesterday’s mishnah mentioned that a husband has a right to his wife’s handiwork.  Our mishnah delineates other obligations that the wife has to her husband.  Note that although the Mishnaic portrayal of marriage was not equal, meaning men and women did not perform the same functions, there is […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah teaches that a husband has an obligation to have sexual relations with his wife.  How frequently he is obligated depends on his job.  The idea that a husband has an obligation to periodically have relations with his wife is derived from Exodus 21:10 which states that […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 7

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This first part of the mishnah deals with a wife who refuses to provide for her husband one of the things that she is obligated to him.  This could either refer to one of the labors listed in mishnah five, or it may refer to a wife who […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 8

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Assumedly, most husbands and wives shared households.  Since the husband was obligated to feed his wife, they would eat together and she would eat whatever she so desired (usually, I would assume within reason), as long as he could afford to pay for the food.  If the husband […]

Ketubot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 9

Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s.  It continues to list what the husband must provide for his wife if he is maintaining her through an agent.   Mishnah Nine 1)                     He must also give her [every week] a silver ma’ah for her [other] needs and she is […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah discusses a wife’s right to money that she receives in various ways while she is married.   Mishnah One 1)                     A wife’s find and her handiwork belong to her husband. 2)                     And [concerning] her inheritance:  He has the usufruct during her lifetime.   3)                     [Any compensation for] […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah deals with a father who promises to give his wife a large dowry and then her fiancee dies, leaving her liable for yibbum with the brother. The question is, is the father obligated to give the same amount of money to the yavam.   Mishnah Two […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah discusses the sums of the dowry written in the ketubah.  Customarily the woman would bring a dowry consisting of money, objects and potentially land (our mishnah does not discuss land, because its location and not value was written in the ketubah).  The amount of dowry that […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Four   Introduction The first part of this mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.  The second part discusses the husband’s obligation to provide his bride with money for perfume.   Mishnah Four 1)                     If a woman agreed to bring him cash, every sela’ counts as six denarii.   2)                     The bridegroom […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 5

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with a father who either does not specify an amount for his daughter’s dowry, or cuts a deal with the husband that the latter will accept her without a dowry.   Mishnah Five 1)                     If a man gives his daughter in marriage without specifying any […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 6

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah discusses the dowry given to an orphan girl who was married off by her mother or brothers.   Mishnah Six If an orphan was given in marriage by her mother or her brothers with her consent and they gave her a dowry of a hundred, or […]

Ketubot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 7

Ketubot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah discusses a father who set aside a sum of money for his daughter for her to use for a specific purpose and then died or went away.  The question is, when the daughter gets married, can the trustee give it to her husband and allow him […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Introduction The first six mishnayoth of chapter seven discuss vows that a husband might take to prohibit his wife from doing something.  If the husband takes such a vow and thereby deprives the woman of a right that she has, he must divorce her and pay her her ketubah.  […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 10

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah lists defects in a husband (either physical defects or ones related to his profession) that allow the woman to demand a divorce and receive her ketubah.   Mishnah Eight 1)                     These are the ones who are forced to divorce [their wives]: one who is afflicted with […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Introduction Whereas in yesterday’s mishnah the husband tried to prevent his wife from benefiting from his property, in today’s mishnah he takes a to try to prevent her from eating any produce whatsoever.  This is obviously a much more expansive vow.  We should note that the Talmud explains this […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 3

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah discusses a husband who vows that his wife should not adorn herself.  According to the mishnah, a woman has a right to adorn herself and therefore a husband who takes such a vow must divorce her. As in yesterday’s mishnah, the Talmud interprets the mishnah to […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with a husband who attempts to prohibit his wife from seeing her father.    Mishnah Four If a man forbade his wife by vow that she may not go to her father’s house: –When the father lives with her in the same town, the husband […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 5

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five   Introduction Mishnah five continues to discuss husbands who attempt to prevent their wives from doing certain things.   Mishnah Five 1)                     If a man forbade his wife by vow from visiting a house of mourning or a house of feasting, he must divorce her and give her the ketubah, […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 6

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Six   Introduction The first five mishnayoth of this chapter referred to situations in which a husband must divorce his wife and pay her the ketubah.  In this mishnah we learn situations in which a husband has grounds for divorcing his wife and not paying her ketubah.  These situations refer to […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 7

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss cases where a woman is divorced and does not receive her ketubah.  The cases in our mishnah are when a woman did not disclose to her husband things that he should have known before marrying her. We should note here that the mishnah […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 8

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Mishnah eight continues to discuss rules concerning bodily defects found on the woman that might cause her to lose her ketubah.  Again, she loses her ketubah because she had the responsibility to tell her husband about her defects before he married her.    Mishnah Eight 1)                     If she […]

Ketubot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 9

Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Up until now the mishnah has been discussing physical flaws found in a wife, which cause the marriage to either be annulled or her husband to be allowed to divorce her without paying the ketubah.  Just in case you thought that men were physically perfect, the last two […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 1

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapter eight discusses a wife’s ability to own money independently of her husband. Possessions that come into her hands while married belong to her, but her husband has usufruct on them.  Therefore, since he too has rights, she cannot sell them.    Mishnah One 1)                     If a woman […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 2

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Two   Introduction In this mishnah Rabbi Shimon disagrees with the opinion in the previous mishnah that states that under certain circumstances a woman cannot sell property, and that if she does, the sale is void.  As we shall see, Rabbi Shimon qualifies that statement.      Mishnah Two 1)                     Rabbi […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 3

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah discusses what is to be done with money that a wife somehow receives, for instance through an inheritance, while she is married.  The general rule is that the money is used to buy land and then the woman receives title to the land and the husband […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Four   Introduction Rabbi Shimon teaches a general rule to help govern what belongs to the husband and what belongs to the wife.   Mishnah Four 1)                     Rabbi Shimon says: In respect to that in which the husband is at an advantage when he marries his wife he is at a […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 5

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Five   Introduction The first section of this mishnah deals with a woman who inherits slaves to old to work or trees that are too old to produce fruit. The second part of the mishnah deals with the expenditures that the husband puts out in taking care of his wife’s property. […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 6

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah appeared word for word in Yevamot 4:3.  I have replicated my commentary here for convenience sake.  Despite the fact that this is its second appearance, it is likely that it was first taught in this context, where it matches the literary pattern of the rest of […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 7

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah continues to teach laws regarding the potential yavam’s rights with his shomeret yavam’s (the woman whose husband has died) property.  The yavam cannot make free use of this property because the woman has a lien on it from her ketubah.   Mishnah Seven 1)                     If his […]

Ketubot, Chapter 8, Mishnah 8

Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah, in which we learned that the widow has a lien on the dead brother’s property.  The yavam cannot even pay off her ketubah and then use this property.     Mishnah Eight 1)                     He cannot say to her, “Behold your ketubah […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 1

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah discusses a husband’s renunciation of the rights to his wife’s property.    Mishnah One 1)                     If a husband writes to his wife, “I have no claim whatsoever upon your property”, he may enjoy its usufruct during her lifetime and, when she dies, he is her heir. […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 2

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Two   Introduction This remainder of this chapter deals with the wife’s ability to collect her ketubah from the husband’s estate.  In general, inheritors are not liable to pay their father’s debts from movable property which they inherited.  Only land is liable for these debts.  Our mishnah deals with the specific […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 3

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah is similar to yesterday’s mishnah.  It again deals with a case of a man who dies and leaves a widow who wishes to collect her ketubah, a creditor who wishes to collect a debt and inheritors who want their rightful inheritance.  The difference is that whereas […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Four   Introduction We learned in Shevuot 7:8: “And these take an oath though there is no [definite] claim:  partners, tenants, guardians, the wife who transacts the affairs in the house, and the son of the house.” In other words in these cases one person can make another person swear an […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 5

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Five   Introduction In mishnah one we learned that a husband can renounce his right to use his wife’s property.  After learning in mishnah four that a husband has a right to make his wife swear that she did not misuse his property, our mishnah teaches that a husband may renounce […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 6

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah refers to a situation where the husband exempted his wife from having to swear an oath and he also stated that his heirs may not make her take such an oath.  The mishnah asks whether or not the heirs may make her take an oath about […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 7

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Most women are able to collect their ketubah without taking an oath that they did not previously collect.  However, some women must first take an oath.  This mishnah lists the category of such women and the following mishnah shall explain it more fully.  Hence I will largely refrain […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 8

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah explains yesterday’s mishnah, regarding which women must take an oath in order to receive their ketubah.  We should note that the mishnah is not making any statement about distrusting women; if so they would not be allowed to take an oath!  Rather in general even when […]

Ketubot, Chapter 9, Mishnah 9

Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah discusses various issues of a woman’s collecting her ketubah.    Mishnah Nine 1)                     If she produced a get without a ketubah, she collects her kethubah.  2)                     [If she produced her] ketubah without a get, and she says, “My get was lost”, and he says, “My receipt […]

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