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.


Horayot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Horayot, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah discusses a person who follows a ruling that a court made in error, and thereby accidentally transgresses a commandment.   Mishnah One 1)                     If the court ruled that one of the commandments mentioned in the Torah may be transgressed, and an individual proceeded and acted through […]

Horayot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Horayot, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah discusses a case where a court made a wrong decision and then reversed their decision, thereby correcting it.  The question asked is whether or not one who follows the wrong decision after it has been revoked is exempt from bringing a sin-offering for his accidental transgression. […]

Horayot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Horayot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah teaches that if the court rules that an entire commandment does not exist, they are not liable.  Whereas if they rule that one part of the commandment does not exist, they are liable.   Mishnah Three 1)                     If the court ruled that an entire principle has […]

Horayot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Horayot, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah really contains two totally separate mishnayoth.  We will therefore explain each separately.   Mishnah Four, part one If the court ruled and one of them knew that they had erred and said to the others, “You are making a mistake”, or if the mufla of the […]

Horayot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Horayot, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction In the previous mishnah we learned that if the court issued an errant ruling and everyone acted erroneously in accord with that ruling they bring a bull, as it says in Leviticus 4:14, “The congregation shall offer a bull of the herd as a sin offering.”  Our mishnah […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction Leviticus 4:3 states, “If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt, so that blame falls upon the people, he shall offer for the sin of which he is guilty a bull of the herd without blemish as a sin offering to the Lord.”  According to the […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction Mishnah two continues to discuss the anointed high priest who issues an errant ruling.   Mishnah Two I)                      An [anointed high priest] who rendered an errant decision alone and acted accordingly alone, he makes his atonement alone.   II)                    If he rendered his ruling together with [the court of] […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction Mishnah three continues to teach laws of errant rulings in which the court is treated the same way that a high priest is treated. It also continues to equate errant rulings with regard to idolatry with errant rulings with regard to other sins.   Mishnah Three I)                      The […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction Mishnah four discusses errant rulings with regard to Temple-related laws and compares them with errant rulings made in connection to a menstruating woman (a menstruant). The mishnah also discusses a sacrifice known as the “asham talui” or the “hanging guilt offering”.  The “asham talui” is brought by a […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction The main topic of our mishnah is the king (a ruler, see below 3:3) who accidentally transgresses.  In Leviticus 4:22-23, we read, “In case it is a chieftain who incurs guilt by doing unwittingly any of the things which by the commandment of the Lord his God ought […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah summarizes who brings what type of sin offering for transgressions done unwittingly.   Mishnah Six I)                      For all the commandments in the Torah, the penalty for which, if committed intentionally, is kareth and, if committed unwittingly, a sin offering, the individual brings as an offering a […]

Horayot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Horayot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Mishnah six compared the sin offerings offered for unwitting transgressions that the individual, the ruler, the high priest and the court bring.  Mishnah seven compares these parties with regard to the asham talui (see above 2:4), the asham vadai and the sliding scale sacrifice (see above 2:5).  An […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction In the case discussed by our mishnah, a high priest or king issued an errant ruling that was subsequently followed by the people, but before they could bring the appropriate sin-offering, they lost their office.  The question is, are they still obligated to bring the same offering, even […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Mishnah two teaches the halakhah regarding a high priest or king who issue an errant ruling after having relinquished their office.   Mishnah Two If the anointed priest relinquished his high priesthood and afterwards transgressed, and similarly if a ruler relinquished his reign and afterwards transgressed, the anointed […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction The first section of this mishnah discusses a situation where the high priest or king issued an errant ruling before they were appointed to their position. Section two defines the word which we have been translating as ruler.  Leviticus 4:22 employs the word “nasi” which is translated occasionally […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction During the time of the First Temple (destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E.) the high priest was anointed with special anointing oils wore eight special pieces of priestly garments, as opposed to the four worn by regular priests.  From the time of King Josiah (640-609 B.C.E.) there was […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction In the previous mishnah we learned that both acting high priests and former high priests do not rend their clothes when a relative dies.  Our mishnah clarifies that halakhah and teaches that the high priest does rend his clothes but not in the same way that an ordinary […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah teaches which sacrifice takes precedence over other sacrifices, in a case where both are ready to be sacrificed. The importance of this mishnah is that it does not just give specific rules for precedence in sacrificial law, but teaches general principles, which are still applied today, […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In the previous mishnah we learned which sacrifice takes precedence in cases where two need to be offered.  In addition, we learned some general principles of which things take precedence over others in halakhah.  Our mishnah contains another such principle.   Mishnah Seven A man takes precedence over […]

Horayot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Horayot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The mishnah continues to provide rules of precedence.   Mishnah Eight A priest takes precedence over a levite, a levite over an israelite, an israelite over a mamzer, a mamzer over a natin, a natin over a convert, and a convert over a freed slave. When is this […]

Introduction to Tractate Horayot

Introduction to Tractate Horayot   Leviticus 4 discusses sacrifices that must be brought as a result of unintentional sins.  Verses 1-12 discuss the unwitting sins of the high priest (the anointed priest) and verses 13-21 discuss the unwitting sins of the whole community of Israel.  According to the rabbinic interpretation of these passages, they refer […]

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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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