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.

Kelim

Introduction to Seder Toharot and Tractate Kelim

Introduction to Seder Toharot and Tractate Kelim   Before I begin to discuss Kelim, I would like to begin with a note on learning the laws of purity, a subject which we have only indirectly touched upon until now. The very fact that at least 1/6 of the Mishnah and probably a large percentage of […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Mishnah Kelim begins by listing five types of impurity that are called “fathers of impurity.” The word “fathers of…” is also used in connection with damages  and in connection with the 39 types of labor prohibited on Shabbat.   Mishnah One 1)      The fathers of impurity are a: […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction Moving up on the hierarchy of “fathers of impurity,” we now encounter two more types of impurity which are even more contagious than the five listed in yesterday’s mishnah.   Mishnah Two 1)      Above them are nevelah and waters of purification whose quantity is sufficient to be sprinkled, […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction We continue moving up the line of defiling agents.   Mishnah Three 1)      Above them is one who had intercourse with a menstruant, for he defiles the bottom [bedding] upon which he lies as he does the top [bedding]. 2)      Above them is the issue of a zav, […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction This is the last mishnah that ranks defiling agents. It ends with the greatest source of impurity—the dead body.   Mishnah Four 1)      Above the zav is the zavah, for she conveys impurity to the man who has intercourse with her.   2)      Above the zavah is the metzora, […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction There are ten grades of impurity when it comes to impurities that are a result of  emissions from a male body. These include semen, flux (abnormal genital discharge), skin disease (tsaraat) and separated limbs.     Mishnah Five There are ten [grades of] impurity that emanate from a […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction The remainder of this chapter establishes geographical grades of holiness—which lands are holier than others, and which places within Israel holier than other places.   Mishnah Six There are ten grades of holiness: the land of Israel is holier than all other lands. And what is the nature […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven Cities that are walled are holier, for metzoras must be sent out of them and a corpse, though it may be carried about within them as long as it is desired, may not be brought back once it has been taken out.   Explanation There are two […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      The area within the wall [of Jerusalem] is holier, for it is there that lesser holy things and second tithe may be eaten. 2)      The Temple Mount is holier, for zavim, zavot, menstruants and women after childbirth may not enter it. 3)      The chel is holier, […]

Kelim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 9

Kelim, Chapter One, Mishnah Nine   Mishnah Nine 1)      The area between the porch (ulam) and the altar is holier, for [priests] who have blemishes or unkempt hair may not enter it. 2)      The Hekhal is holier, for no one whose hands or feet are unwashed may enter it. 3)      The Holy of Holies is […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah One   Introduction Finally, a mishnah whose focus is not ovens! The tenth chapter of Kelim deals with the types of vessels who remain clean if they have a tightly fitting lid. This halakhah is rooted in Leviticus 19:14-15 which reads: “14This is the ritual: When a person dies in a […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah discusses what materials can be used to seal the cover of an earthenware vessel such that it will protect it from becoming impure.   Mishnah Two 1)      How may it be tightly covered?   a)      With lime or gypsum, pitch or wax, mud or excrement, crude clay […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      A stopper of a jar that is loose but does not fall out: a)      Rabbi Judah says: it protects. b)      But the sages say: it does not protect. 2)      If its finger-hold was sunk within the jar and a sheretz was in it, the jar becomes […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If a ball or coil of reed grass was placed over the mouth of a jar, and only its sides   were plastered, it does not protect unless it was also plastered above or below.   2)      The same is true with regard to a patch of cloth.   […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If [the outer layer] a jar had been peeled off but its pitch [lining] remained intact,   2)      And similarly if pots of fish brine were sealed up with gypsum at a level with the brim: a)      Rabbi Judah says: they do not protect. b)      But the […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If a jar had a hole in it and wine lees stopped it up, they protect it.   2)      If one stopped it up with a vine shoot [it does not protect] until he plasters it at the sides.   3)      If there were two vine shoots, [it […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah discusses a case where one oven is within another oven. A note of introduction will help in understanding this mishnah. For a jar (susceptible to impurity) to be protected from impurity when it is found inside a tent with a dead body it must have a […]

Kelim, Chapter 10, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)     If [earthenware] pans were placed one within the other and their rims were on the same level, and there was a sheretz in the upper one or in the lower one, that pan alone becomes unclean but all the others remain clean.   2)      If [they were […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapters eleven through fourteen deal with purity issues related to metal vessels.   Mishnah One 1)      Metal vessels, whether they are flat or form a receptacle, are susceptible to impurity. 2)      On being broken they become clean.  3)      If they were re-made into vessels they revert to their […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      Every metal vessel that has a name of its own [is susceptible to impurity,] 2)      Except for a door, a bolt, a lock, a socket under a hinge, a hinge, a clapper, and the [threshold] groove under a door post, since these are intended to be […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If vessels are made from iron ore, from smelted iron, from the hoop of a wheel, from sheets, from plating, from the bases, rims or handles of vessels, from chippings or filings, they are clean.  a)      Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri says: even those made of pieces […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If unclean iron was smelted together with clean iron and the greater part was from the unclean iron, [the vessel made of the mixture] is unclean;   a)      If the greater part was from the clean iron, the vessel is clean. b)      If each was half, it […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      The scorpion [-shaped] bit of a bridle is susceptible to impurity, but the cheek-pieces are clean.   a)      Rabbi Eliezer says that the cheek-pieces are susceptible to impurity. b)      But the sages says that the scorpion-bit alone is susceptible to impurity, 2)      When they are joined together […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six A metal spindle-knob: 1)      Rabbi Akiva says it is susceptible to impurity a)      But the sages say it is not susceptible.   b)      If it was only plated [with metal] it is clean.   2)      A spindle, a distaff, a rod, a double flute and a pipe are susceptible […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      A curved horn is susceptible to impurity but a straight one is clean. 2)      If its mouthpiece was covered with metal it is unclean. 3)      If its broad side [is covered with metal]:   a)      Rabbi Tarfon says it is susceptible to impurity b)      But the sages […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the purity of weapons and jewelry. It is interesting to note that the Mishnah often juxtaposes these topics, as if to create an analogy—weapons are adornments to men, as jewelry is an adornment to women.   Mishnah Eight 1)      A helmet is susceptible to […]

Kelim, Chapter 11, Mishnah 9

Kelim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the purity of earrings.   Mishnah Nine 1)      If an earring was shaped like a pot at its bottom and like a lentil at the top and the sections fell apart, the pot-shaped section is susceptible to impurity because it is a receptacle, while […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      A man’s ring is susceptible to impurity. 2)      A ring for cattle or for vessels and all other rings are clean.  3)      A beam for arrows is susceptible to impurity, but one for prisoners is clean.  4)      A prisoner’s collar is susceptible to impurity. 5)      A […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Two   Introduction Most of this mishnah deals with the susceptibility of various types of hooks to impurity.   Mishnah Two 1)      The beam of a wool-combers’ balance is susceptible to impurity on account of the hooks.  2)      And that of a householder, if it has hooks is also susceptible to […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      The metal cover of a basket of householders: a)      Rabban Gamaliel says: it is susceptible to impurity,   b)      The sages say that it is clean. 2)      But that of physicians is susceptible to impurity. 3)      The door of a cupboard of householders is clean but that […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah, as well as tomorrow’s, deals with the purity of various types of “nails.” When the Mishnah uses the word “nail” it does not refer only to building nails, but to various nail-like instruments used in a variety of ways.   Mishnah Four 1)      A blood-letters’ nail […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Five   Mishnah One 1)      A nail which he adapted to be able to open or to shut a lock is susceptible to impurity. 2)      But one used for guarding is clean. 3)      A nail which he adapted to open a jar: a)      Rabbi Akiva says that it is susceptible to […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Six   Introduction Today’s mishnah is found word for word in Eduyot 3:9. It is brought here due to the fact that it discusses the purity of vessels, and that the first vessel discussed is also mentioned above in mishnah three.   Mishnah Six There are four things which Rabban Gamaliel […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the susceptibility to impurity of invalidated coins that have put to a secondary purpose.   Mishnah Seven 1)      If a dinar had been invalidated and then was adapted for hanging around a young girl’s neck it is susceptible to impurity. 2)      So, too, if […]

Kelim, Chapter 12, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      A pen-knife, a writing pen, a plummet, a weight, pressing plates, a measuring-rod, and a measuring-table are susceptible to impurity. 2)      All unfinished wooden vessels also are susceptible to impurity, excepting those made of boxwood.  3)      Rabbi Judah says: one made of an olive-tree branch is […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 1

  Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      The sword, knife, dagger, spear, hand-sickle, harvest-sickle, clipper, and barbers’ whose component parts were separated, are susceptible to impurity. 2)      Rabbi Yose says: the part that is near the hand is susceptible to impurity, but that which is near the top is clean. 3)      The […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with tools that have two ends with which two different types of work can be performed.   Mishnah Two 1)      A koligrophon whose spoon has been removed is still susceptible to impurity on account of its teeth. a)      If its teeth have been removed it […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      A harhur that is damaged is still susceptible to impurity until its greater part is removed. a)      But if its shaft-socket is broken it is clean. 2)      A hatchet whose cutting edge is lost remains susceptible to impurity on account of its splitting edge. a)      If […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      An ash-shovel whose spoon was missing is still susceptible to impurity, since it is still like a hammer, the words of Rabbi Meir. a)      But the sages rule that it is clean. 2)      A saw whose teeth are missing one in every two is clean. a)      […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      A needle whose eye or point is missing is clean. a)      If he adapted it to be a stretching-pin it is susceptible to impurity. 2)      A pack-needle whose eye was missing is still susceptible to impurity since one writes with it.   a)      If its point was […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our principle teaches and illustrates the general principle that a vessel is considered to be made of the material which makes up its function part. This principle is of importance because the rules governing wooden and metal vessels are different.   Mishnah Six 1)      Wood that serves a […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with vessels that are basically wooden, but have one part made of metal.   Mishnah Seven 1)      If Ashkelon grappling-irons were broken but their hooks remained, they remain susceptible to impurity. 2)      If a pitch-fork, winnowing-fan, or rake, and the same applies to a hair-comb, […]

Kelim, Chapter 13, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The final mishnah of chapter thirteen deals with various types of combs that have their teeth missing.   Mishnah Eight 1)      A flax-comb: if the teeth were missing but two remained, it is still susceptible to impurity. a)      If only one remained it is clean. 2)      As regards […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah One   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the minimum size that broken pieces of metals vessels need to be in order for them to be susceptible to impurity or for them to still retain the impurity that they already have.   Mishnah One 1)      What is the minimum size of [broken] […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah deals with various metal objects that are attached to a wooden staff. The wooden staff itself has no receptacle and is therefore not susceptible to impurity. The question is: does the metal instrument attached to it cause it to be susceptible.   Mishnah Two 1)      A […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      A builder’s staff and a carpenter’s axes are susceptible to impurity.   2)      Tent-pegs and surveyors’ pegs are susceptible to impurity.   3)      A surveyor’s chain is susceptible to impurity, but one used for wood is clean.   4)      The chain of a big bucket [is susceptible to impurity […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Four   Introduction The next two mishnayot deal with the parts of an ox-pulled wagon that are susceptible to impurity and the parts that are not.   Mishnah Four  The parts of a wagon that are susceptible to impurity: the metal yoke, the cross-bar, the side-pieces that hold the straps, the […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      The clean parts of a wagon are the following: the yoke that is only plated [with metal], side-pieces made for ornamentation, tubes that give out a noise, the lead at the side of the necks of the cattle, the rim of the wheel, the plates and […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      A metal basket-cover which was turned into a mirror: a)      Rabbi Judah rules that it is clean. b)      And the sages rule that it is susceptible to impurity.   2)      A broken mirror, if it does not reflect the greater part of the face, is clean.   […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Metal vessels can be purified by having hatat waters (the water that contains the ashes of the red heifer) sprinkled on them on the third and seventh days from their impurity. Metal vessels also can become clean by being broken. Our mishnah deals with how these two ways […]

Kelim, Chapter 14, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the purity of keys.   Mishnah Eight 1)      A knee-shaped key that was broken off at the knee is clean.   a)      Rabbi Judah says that it is unclean because one can open with it from within.   2)      A gamma-shaped key that was broken off […]

Kelim, Chapter 15, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapters fifteen through nineteen deal with vessels of wood, leather, bone or glass.   Mishnah One 1)      Vessels of wood, leather, bone or glass: those that are flat are clean and those that form a receptacle are susceptible to impurity. 2)      If they are broken they become clean […]

Kelim, Chapter 15, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction In the wake of yesterday’s mishnah which ended by mentioning a baker’s trough, our mishnah continues to deal with various instruments used by a baker.   Mishnah Two 1)      Bakers’ baking-boards are susceptible to impurity, but those used by householders are clean. a)      But if he dyed them […]

Kelim, Chapter 15, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      The container of the flour-dealers’ sifter is susceptible to impurity, but the one of a householder is clean. 2)      Rabbi Judah says: also one that is used by a hairdresser is susceptible to impurity as a seat, since girls sit in it when their hair is […]

Kelim, Chapter 15, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah is about the susceptibility to impurity of hangers. These hangers seem to have been attached to vessels and were used to hang the vessels. They don’t seem to be the types of hangers we use today to hang clothes.   Mishnah Four 1)      All hangers are […]

Kelim, Chapter 15, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Five   Introduction The general rule expressed in section three summarizes this halakhah well. A shovel is susceptible to impurity if it is used to hold things, even temporarily. This is enough to fill the requirement that the vessel have a receptacle. However, if the shovel is used only to move […]

Kelim, Chapter 15, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      Ordinary harps are susceptible to impurity, but the harps of Levites are clean.    2)      All liquids are susceptible to impurity, but the liquids in the Temple slaughtering house are clean. 3)      All scrolls convey impurity to the hands, excepting the scroll of the Temple courtyard.  […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      A wooden vessel that was broken into two parts becomes clean, except for a folding table, a dish with compartments for [different kinds of] food, and a householder’s footstool.  2)      Rabbi Judah says: a double dish and a Babylonian drinking vessel are subject to the same […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the completion of the manufacturing of various types of baskets.   Mishnah Two 1)      Wooden baskets [become susceptible to impurity] as soon as their rims are rounded off and their rough ends are smoothed off. 2)      But those that are made of palm-branches [become […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah deals with various types of baskets and when they become susceptible to impurity.   Mishnah Three 1)      Small reed baskets and baskets [become susceptible to impurity] as soon as their rims are rounded off and their rough ends are smoothed off. 2)      Large reed baskets and […]

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