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.

Eduyoth

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)                     Shammai says: “For all women [who begin to menstruate] it suffices [to reckon their impurity from] the time [of their discovering it].” a)                                           And Hillel says: “[Their impurity is reckoned backwards] from the [last] examination to the [previous] examination, even if this covers many days.” b)                                          […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 10

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Ten Mishnah Ten 1)                     One who exchanges a sela from second tithe in Jerusalem: a)                                           Beth Shammai says: “Copper coin for the whole sela.” b)                                          And Beth Hillel says: “Silver for one shekel and copper coin for one shekel.” i)                                                       The disputants before the Sages say: “Silver for three denars and […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 11

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Eleven   Mishnah Eleven 1)                     A bride’s stool from which the covering-boards have been taken: a)                                           Beth Shammai pronounces it [liable to become] unclean, b)                                          And Beth Hillel pronounce it not [liable to become] unclean. c)                                           Shammai says: “Even the framework of a stool [by itself is liable to become] unclean.” […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 12

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction Mishnah twelve begins a series of mishnayoth in which Beth Hillel and Beth Shammai initially disagree, until Beth Hillel changes their minds and teaches according to the opinion of Beth Shammai.  Aside from the specific content of these mishnayoth, Beth Hillel’s willingness to admit that their rivals, Beth […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 13

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Thirteen   Mishnah Thirteen 1)                     Whoever is half a slave and half a free man should work one day for his master and one day for himself, according to Beth Hillel. 2)                     Beth Shammai said to them:  “You have set matters in order with regards to his master, but you have […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 14

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Fourteen   Mishnah Fourteen 1)                     A vessel of earthenware can protect everything [in it from contracting impurity], according to Beth Hillel. 2)                     But Beth Shammai says: “It protects only food and liquids and [other] vessels of earthenware.” a)                                           Beth Hillel said to them: “Why?” b)                                          Beth Shammai said to them:  “Because […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

  Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)                     Shammai says:  “[Dough] of a kav or more is subject to the law of hallah.”   a)                                           And Hillel says: “Of two kavs or more.” b)                                          But the Sages say: “Neither according to the opinion of this one nor according to the opinion of this one, […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction Mishnah three contains a dispute between Hillel and Shammai with regards to the laws of the mikveh (ritual bath).   Mishnah Three 1)                     Hillel says:  “A hin full of drawn water renders the mikweh unfit.” i)                                                       (However, man must speak in the language of his teacher.) b)                                          And […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction Mishnah four discusses why the Mishnah records opinions that are not accepted as normative Jewish law (halakhah).   Mishnah Three 1)                     And why do they record the opinions of Shammai and Hillel for naught? a)                                           To teach the following generations that a man should not [always] persist in […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah discusses the question why are minority opinions recorded in the Mishnah, if there is a rule that the halakhah (the law) is according to the majority opinion.   Mishnah Five 1)                     And why do they record the opinion of a single person among the many, when […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction Mishnah six contains a different answer to the same question asked in mishnah five:  why are minority opinions recorded in the mishnah.   Mishnah Six 1)                     Rabbi Judah said:  “If so, why do they record the opinion of a single person among the many to set it aside?   […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah begins to list disputes between Beth Shammai (the school of Shammai) and Beth Hillel (the school of Hillel).  The rest of the chapter will contain disputes between these two schools.   Mishnah Seven 1)                     Beth Shammai says: “A quarter-kav of any bones, even from two limbs […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)                     Vetches of terumah: Beth Shammai says, “They must be soaked and rubbed in purity, but can be given for food in impurity.” 2)                     And Beth Hillel says: “They must be soaked in purity, but can be rubbed and given for food in impurity.” 3)                     Shammai says: […]

Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 9

Eduyot, Chapter One, Mishnah Nine   Mishnah Nine 1)                     One who changes for a sela copper coins from second tithe: a)                                           Beth Shammai says: “Copper coin for the whole sela.” b)                                          And Beth Hillel say:  “Silver for one shekel and copper coin for one shekel.” c)                                           Rabbi Meir says: “Silver and fruits may not be […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction The first three mishnayoth contain four things upon which Rabbi Hanina, the chief of the priests testified.  The first mishnah discusses burning impure things.   Mishnah One Rabbi Hanina, chief of the priests, testified concerning four matters: 1)                     Through all their days the priests never refrained from burning […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 10

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Mishnayoth ten contains another statement of Rabbi Akiva.   Mishnah Ten Also he used to say that there are five things that last twelve months: 1)                     The judgment of the generation of the flood [continued] twelve months; 2)                     The judgment of Job [continued] twelve months; 3)                     The judgment […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction Mishnah two discusses burning the hides of sacrificially unfit animals.   Mishnah Two 1)                     Rabbi Hanina, chief of the priests, said: “All my days I never saw a hide taken out to the place of burning.” a)                                           Rabbi Akiba said: “From his words we infer that whoever flays […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction Mishnah three contains the final two testimonies of Rabbi Hananyah, chief of priests.   Mishnah Three 1)                     He also testified concerning a small village in the vicinity of Jerusalem in which there was an old man who used to lend to all the people of the village and […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction Mishnah four contains three testimonies of Rabbi Yishmael, which he gave in front of the other Sages in Yavneh.  As I stated in the introduction to Eduyot, this is where the Sages gathered after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.   Mishnah Four 1)                     Rabbi Yishmael declared […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction Mishnah four, which we learned yesterday, contained three things that Rabbi Yishmael had said in front of the Sages in Yavneh.  Mishnah five contains three things which Rabbi Yishmael did not know how to explain, and Rabbi Joshua ben Matya explained them for him.   Mishnah Five They […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction Mishnah six contains three examples of one law, about which Rabbi Akiva disagreed with Rabbi Yishmael.   Mishnah Six Rabbi Yishmael said three things, and Rabbi Akiba disagreed with him. 1)                     Garlic or unripe grapes or green ears of grain were being crushed [on the eve of the […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Mishnah seven contains three things that other Sages said in front of Rabbi Akiva:  two in the name of Rabbi Eliezer and one in the name of Rabbi Joshua.   Mishnah Seven They said three things before Rabbi Akiva, two in the name of Rabbi Eliezer and one […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Mishnah eight contains three statements of Rabbi Akiva.  The Sages agreed with two of these statements and disagreed with the other.    Mishnah Eight Rabbi Akiba declared three things; about two they agreed with him, and about one they disagreed with him. 1)                     About a lime-burner’s sandal, that […]

Eduyot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 9

Eduyot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Mishnayoth nine (and ten) contain further statements of Rabbi Akiva.  These statements are not about halakhah, but rather about aggadah, or Jewish legend.   Mishnah Nine 1)                     He used to say: the father transmits to the son beauty, strength, wealth, wisdom and years. 2)                     And the number of […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction The first six mishnayoth of this chapter contain ten disputes between Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas and the Sages.   Mishnah One 1)                     [In the case of] all things which cause defilement in a “tent”, if they [the pieces of the corpse] were divided and brought into the house, […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 10

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Mishnah ten contains three cases in which Rabban Gamaliel ruled like Beth Shammai.   Mishnah Ten In three cases Rabban Gamaliel was strict like the words of Beth Shammai. 1)                     One may not wrap up hot food on a festival for the Sabbath; 2)                     And one may not […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 11

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction In mishnah ten we learned of three cases where Rabban Gamaliel was strict like Beth Shammai.  In mishnah eleven we will learn three cases where he adopted a more lenient position than the other Sages.   Mishnah Eleven Also he declared three decisions of a lenient character: 1)                     […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 12

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction Mishnah twelve contains three cases where Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was more lenient than the other Sages.   Mishnah Twelve   Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah allows three things and the Sages forbid them: 1)                     His cow used to go out with the strap which she had between her horns; […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)                     Food which is in separate pieces does not combine together [to receive impurity], according to Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas. a)                                 But the Sages say: “It does combines together.” 2)                     One may exchange [ produce of] second tithe for uncoined metal, according to Rabbi Dosa. a)                                 But […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)                     The insides of a melon and the discarded leaves of a vegetable of terumah: a)                                 Rabbi Dosa permits [their] use to non-priests, and the Sages forbid it. 2)                     Five ewes, their fleeces weighing each a mina and a half, are subject to [the law of] the […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)                     All mats are [liable to become] impure by “corpse” impurity, the words of Rabbi Dosa. a)                                 But the Sages say: “[Also by] “midras” impurity. 2)                     All network is unsusceptible to impurity except a [network] girdle, the words of Rabbi Dosa. a)                                 But the Sages say: “They […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)                     A sling whose pocket is woven is susceptible to impurity. a)                                 If it is of leather, Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas pronounces it susceptible to impurity, and the Sages pronounce it not susceptible to impurity. b)                                 If its finger-hold is broken off, it is not susceptible to […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)                     A female captive may eat of terumah, according to the words of Rabbi Dosa b. Harkinas. a)                                 But the Sages say: “There is a female captive who may eat, and there is a female captive who may not eat. i)                                                       How is this so? ii)                                                      The […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Mishnayoth seven and eight both list cases in which one Sage declares something pure and the other Sages declare it impure.   Mishnah Seven 1)                     Four  cases of doubt Rabbi Joshua pronounces impure, and the Sages pronounce them pure. a)                                 How is this so? i)                                                       If the impure […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Mishnah eight contains another case in which one Sage declares something pure and the other Sages declare it impure.   Mishnah Eight 1)                     Three things Rabbi Zadok pronounces [liable to receive] impurity and the Sages pronounce them not [liable to receive]: a)                                 The nail of the money-changer; b)                                 […]

Eduyot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 9

Eduyot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Nine   Introduction The next three mishnayoth contain halakhic traditions revolving around Rabban Gamaliel.  Mishnah nine continues the pattern of the previous mishnah, of a dispute over which things are susceptible to impurity.   Mishnah Nine Four things Rabban Gamaliel pronounces susceptible to impurity, and the Sages pronounce them not susceptible […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction This entire chapter contains cases where Beth Shammai was lenient and Beth Hillel was strict.  Generally speaking the opposite is true, hence these are exceptional cases. Most of the examples in these mishnayoth are from the laws concerning festivals.  There is a halakhic concept in Judaism called “muktzeh”.  […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 10

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah contains four more disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel.  The first one continues to deal with marital law. The second one deals with laws of giving birth.  The final two deal with other areas of law.    Mishnah  Ten 1)                     One who takes a vow […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 11

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction In order to understand this mishnah we must first explain some laws concerning the nazirite.  One who takes a vow to be a nazirite (see Numbers 6) is forbidden to do three things:  1)  cut his hair; 2) drink wine or any grape products; 3) become impure.  If […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 12

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction This is the final mishnah in the long list of mishnayoth that list the disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel.   Mishnah Twelve 1)                     A man who was set beneath the gap: a)                                 Beth Shammai says: he does not cause the impurity to pass over. b)                                 But […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues the subject of yesterday’s mishnah, muktzeh.   Mishnah Two 1)                     A beast which was born on a festival — all agree that it is permitted; and a chicken which was hatched from the egg — all agree that it is forbidden. 2)                     He who slaughters […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction The Mishnah continues to bring disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, in which Beth Shammai took the lenient position.   Mishnah Three 1)                     Beth Shammai says: [produce pronounced] ownerless with respect to the poor [only] is counted as ownerless. a)                                 But Beth Hillel says: it is not […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction The Mishnah continues to bring disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, in which Beth Shammai took the lenient position.   Mishnah Four 1)                     A sheaf which was close to a wall or to a stack or to the herd or to [field] utensils, and was forgotten, Beth […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction Our mishnah contains several disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel with regards to the status of the fruit of a vineyard in its fourth year, which according to Leviticus 19:24 must be “set aside”.  The Rabbis teach that this fruit is similar to second tithe and that […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah contains two disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, the first over the impurity of olives inside a barrel and the second over the impurity of the oil dripping off a person who had entered the mikveh (ritual bath).    Mishnah 1)                     A barrel of pickled […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah continues listing the leniencies of Beth Shammai.  The issues listed in our mishnah are from the realm of marital law.   Mishnah Seven 1)                     A woman is betrothed by a denar or the value of a denar, according to the opinion of Beth Shammai. a)                                 But […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 8

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah discusses a dispute in the laws of levirate marriage between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel.  We will learn these laws more fully when we learn tractate Yevamot.   Mishnah Eight 1)                     Beth Shammai permits the rival wives [of a deceased brother to be married]  to the […]

Eduyot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 9

Eduyot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Our mishnah continues to list disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel with regards to the laws of levirate marriage. In order to understand this mishnah it is important to understand one issue about how levirate marriage works.  When a woman’s husband dies without children she must either […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapter five continues to list disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel in which Beth Shammai were more lenient.  The difference between these lists and those in the previous chapter is that in this chapter individual Sages state the lists as opposed the lists in the previous chapter […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction In this mishnah Rabbi Yose lists six cases in which Beth Shammai ruled more leniently than did Beth Hillel.   Mishnah Two Rabbi Yose says:  there are six instances of lenient rulings by Beth Shammai and stringent rulings by Beth Hillel. 1)                     A fowl may be put on […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah contains Rabbi Yishmael’s list of three instances in which Beth Shammai ruled more leniently than Beth Hillel.   Mishnah Three Rabbi Yishmael says:  there are three instances of lenient rulings by Beth Shammai and strict rulings by Beth Hillel. 1)                     The book of Ecclesiastes does not […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah and the mishnah that we will learn tomorrow contain the last lists of disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel in tractate Eduyot.    Mishnah Four Rabbi Eliezer says:  there are two instances of lenient rulings by Beth Shammai and strict rulings by Beth Hillel. 1)                     […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.  It contains the second example of Rabbi Eliezer’s list of disputes between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel.   Mishnah Five . 1)                     [In the case of] four brothers of whom two were married to two sisters, if those married to […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah contains the sad story of Akavia ben Mahalalel who was excommunicated for his disagreements with the other Sages.  Although we have seen many disagreements in the Mishnah, some over major issues of law, it has seemed that the disputing Sages lived in peace despite their differences.  […]

Eduyot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 7

Eduyot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah concludes the story of Akavia ben Mehalalel.   Mishnah Seven 1)                     At the time of his death he said to his son, “Retract the four opinions which I used to declare.” a)                                 He (the son) said to him, “Why did not you retract them?” b)                                 He […]

Eduyot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapter six returns to the main style of Mishnah Eduyot, the recording of traditions transmitted by individual Sages.  In the first mishnah Rabbi Judah ben Bava testifies with regards to five things.   Mishnah One Rabbi Judah ben Bava testified concerning five things: 1)                     That women who are […]

Eduyot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Eduyot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah contains Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Nehunia ben Elinathan’s testimony regarding the impurity of a limb separated from a corpse.   Mishnah Two 1)                     Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Nehunia ben Elinathan, a man of Kefar Habavli, testified concerning a limb [separated] from a corpse that it is […]

Eduyot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Eduyot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three (part one)   Introduction This mishnah is one of the longer mishnayoth in the entire Mishnah, and it contains a long argument amongst the Sages about the quantities of flesh separated from corpses or from limbs separated from living bodies that will cause impurity.  This mishnah is also a continuation […]

Eduyot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Eduyot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Introduction According to Exodus 13:13, the first born of a donkey must be “redeemed” with a sheep.  Since donkeys are not fit to be sacrificed, their firstborn cannot be offered on the altar as are the firstborn of “pure” animals.  Therefore they are redeemed with a sheep, which is […]

Eduyot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Eduyot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Introduction According to Leviticus 11:22, it is permitted to eat certain types of locusts.  However, there are some types of locusts that are forbidden to eat.  In the time of the mishnah people were able to distinguish between permitted and forbidden locusts.  Nowadays, we do not know the difference […]

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