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

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah begins to deal with leather vessels and when they become susceptible to impurity.   Mishnah Four When do leather vessels become susceptible to impurity? 1)      A leather pouch, as soon as its hem has been stitched, its rough ends trimmed and its straps sewn on. i)        […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapte Sixteen, Mishnah Five   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with the case of baskets—you might call it another basketcase! (I know, this was not good, but I couldn’t resist).   Mishnah Five 1)      A basket [for figs] is susceptible to uncleanness but a basket for wheat is clean.     2)      Small baskets made […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah Six   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the purity of gloves. The general rule is stated clearly in section four: if the glove is made to protect the hand while holding potentially lacerating or irritating objects, then the glove is considered a receptacle and it is susceptible. However, if it is […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      The dung bag of a bull and its muzzle, a bee shelf, and a fan are clean.     2)      The cover of a small box is susceptible to uncleanness; 3)      The cover of a clothes chest is clean. 4)      The cover of a box, the cover of […]

Kelim, Chapter 16, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Our mishnah deals with cases for weapons and musical instruments. Sections one through five bring various examples of cases, but the explanation for the entire mishnah comes in section five. If the case is used for storage then it is susceptible. This means that it is something that […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah One   Introduction In previous chapters 3:1 and 14:1 we learned that a vessel gets a hole in it large enough so that the vessel will not be use the vessel becomes pure. Our mishnah deals with this rule concerning wood and leather vessels.   Mishnah One 1)      All [wooden] vessels […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 10

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with the size of the cubits used to measure various parts of the Temple. In today’s mishnah we learn that there were two different size cubits, one of six handbreadths (this is the cubit referred to in yesterday’s mishnah) and one of five […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 11

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction In previous mishnayot we learned all of the halakhot in which the medium measure was used. In today’s mishnah we learned that sometimes smaller measures were used, and sometimes the measure used depended upon the person for whom the halakhah was relevant.   Mishnah Eleven 1)      Sometimes they […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 12

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction This mishnah describes six cases in which a large measure was the standard.   Mishnah Twelve And sometimes  they stated a large measure: 1)      A ladleful of corpse mould  refers to the big ladle of physicians; 2)      The split bean in the case of skin disease  refers to […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 13

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Thirteen   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with one who makes vessels out of the bones or skin of fish or other creatures that come from the sea.   Mishnah Thirteen 1)      All that live in the sea are clean, except the sea-dog because it seeks refuge on dry land, the words […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 14

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Fourteen   Introduction This fascinating mishnah goes through the six days of creation and discusses whether or not the laws of impurity can apply to the things that were created on each day.   Mishnah Fourteen 1)      The laws of uncleanness can apply to what was created on the first day.     […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 15

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Fifteen   Mishnah Fifteen 1)      If one made a receptacle whatever its size it is susceptible to uncleanness. 2)      If one made a couch or a bed whatever its purpose it is susceptible to uncleanness. 3)      If one made a wallet from untanned hide or from papyrus it is susceptible to […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 16

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Sixteen   Mishnah Sixteen 1)      The beam of a balance and a leveler that contain a  receptacle for metal, carrying-stick that has a receptacle for  money, a beggar’s cane that has a receptacle for water, and a stick that has a receptacle for a mezuzah and for pearls are susceptible  to […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 17

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Seventeen   Mishnah Seventeen 1)      The base of the goldsmiths’ anvil is susceptible to uncleanness, but that of the blacksmiths is clean. 2)      A whetting-board which has a receptacle for oil is susceptible to uncleanness, but one that has none is clean. 3)      A writing-tablet that has a receptacle for wax […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      A skin bottle [becomes clean if the holes in it are of] a size through which warp-stoppers [can fall out]. 2)      If a warp-stopper cannot be held in, but it can still hold a woof-stopper it remains unclean.      3)      A dish holder that cannot hold […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      Bread-baskets [become clean if] the size [of their hole is such] that loaves of bread [would fall through]. 2)     Papyrus frames through into which reeds were inserted from the bottom upwards to strengthen them, are clean.    a)      If he fixed walls to it, they are susceptible […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Four   Introduction In the first mishnah of this chapter we learned that if the vessel has a hole large enough to let pomegranates fall through, it is clean. Our mishnah expands on that mishnah.   Mishnah Four 1)      The pomegranates of which they have spoken–three attached to one another.     2)      […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Five   Introduction More discussion of pomegranates—which by the way are delicious and very healthy. This mishnah begins a series of mishnayot which refer to various items that were used for the purposes of measuring. This will lead us to some side discussions about issues that don’t relate directly to Tractate […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      The egg of which they spoke—it is one that is neither big nor small but of moderate size. 2)      Rabbi Judah says: the largest and the smallest  must be brought and put in water and the  displaced water is then divided.     3)      Rabbi Yose says: but […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      The dried fig of which they spoke— it is one that is neither big nor small but of moderate size. 2)      Rabbi Judah says:  the biggest in the land of Israel is like one of medium size in other lands.    Explanation Section one: Dried figs […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      The olive of which they spoke—it is one that is neither big nor small but of moderate size—the egori. 2)      The barleycorn of which they spoke—it is one that is neither big nor small but of moderate size—the midbarit 3)      The lentil of which they spoke—it […]

Kelim, Chapter 17, Mishnah 9

Kelim, Chapter Seventeen, Mishnah Nine   Mishnah Nine 1)      The cubit of which they spoke is one of  medium size.    2)      There were two standard cubits in Shushan Habirah, one in the north-eastern corner and the other in the south-eastern corner. a)      The one in the north-eastern corner exceeded that of Moses  by half a […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah One   Introduction Above in 15:1 we learned that if a chest or box can contain 40 seahs of liquids it is too big to be susceptible to impurity. The sages say that the dimensions of such a box are: 1 x 1 x 3 cubits. In our mishnah the rabbis […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah continues to deal with how the box is measured.   Mishnah Two 1)      Its carriage: if it can be slipped off, a)      is not regarded as connected, b)      nor is it included in its measurement, c)      nor does it afford protection together with it in the […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If one of the legs was missing from a chest, a box or a cupboard, even though it is still capable of holding [things], it is clean, since it cannot hold [things] in the usual manner.     a)      But Rabbi Yose says: it is susceptible to impurity. […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      A bed frame that was put on props: a)      Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Judah say it is susceptible to uncleanness. b)      But Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Shimon say that it is clean. 2)      Rabbi Yose said: Why is this different from the rectangle frames of the […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Five   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with how much of a bed must be removed for it to be considered defective and therefore no longer unclean (or susceptible to impurity).    Mishnah Five 1)      A bed that had contracted midras uncleanness: a)      If a short side was removed and its two […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with a bed that has contracted midras impurity. In order to understand this mishnah we should note that there is a difference between “midras impurity” and “contact with midras.” Midras impurity is a “father of impurity” and it defiles other things. “Contact with […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a bed leg that has a high level of impurity that is attached to a clean bed and then removed from the bed. Commentators explain that the leg was leaned or sat upon by the zav while it was separate from the bed.   […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The tefillin box worn on one’s head has four compartments to hold four scrolls. The box was defiled with corpse impurity. Our mishnah deals with cases where one replaces the compartments, eventually causing the entire tefillin box to be pure.   Mishnah Eight 1)      A tefillin box consisting […]

Kelim, Chapter 18, Mishnah 9

Kelim, Chapter Eighteen, Mishnah Nine   Mishnah Nine 1)      A bed half of which was stolen or lost, or one which brothers or joint owners divided between themselves, becomes clean.      2)      If it was restored it is susceptible to uncleanness henceforth.     3)      A bed may contract uncleanness and be rendered clean when all its parts […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      One who dismantles a bed in order that he might immerse it and [while doing so] touches the ropes remains clean.   2)      When does the rope begin to constitute a connective with the bed? a)      As soon as three rows of meshes of it have been […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 10

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Ten   Mishnah Ten 1)      A dung-basket that was so damaged that it will not hold pomegranates: a)      Rabbi Meir says is still susceptible to uncleanness,      b)      But the sages say that it is clean because if the primary function ceases the secondary one also ceases.   Explanation The mishnah deals […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with ropes that hang out from a bed after the main part of the rope was woven around the bed frame.    Mishnah Two A rope that hangs out from a bed:   1)      If it is shorter than five handbreadths, it is clean, 2)      If […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If a part of a mattress hangs over, it is unclean whatever  its length, the words of Rabbi Meir. a)      Rabbi Yose says: only that which is shorter than ten handbreadths.     2)      The remnant of a mattress remains unclean if the length is at least seven […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If a zav was carried on a bed and on its mattress, the latter causes an uncleanness of two grades and an unfitness of one grade, the words of Rabbi Meir. 2)     Rabbi Yose says: if a zav was carried on a bed and on its […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If around a bed that had contracted midras uncleanness one wrapped a mattress, the whole becomes subject to midras uncleanness. a)      If it was removed, the bed remains subject to midras uncleanness but the mattress is unclean only from contact with midras. 2)      If around a […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If a mattress was wrapped around a bed and a corpse touched them, they are subject to a seven-day uncleanness;     a)      If they are taken apart they are still subject to a seven-day uncleanness. 2)      If  a sheretz touched them they are subject to an evening […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 7

  Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      A box whose opening is at the top is susceptible to corpse uncleanness.     2)      If a piece fell out above it is still susceptible to corpse uncleanness. 3)      If it was damaged below, it becomes clean. 4)      The compartments within it remain unclean and are […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Just a warning—this mishnah might make you chuckle a bit.   Mishnah Eight 1)      If a shepherd’s bag was damaged, the pocket within it retains its uncleanness and is not regarded as a connected to it. 2)      A skin whose testicle bags serve also as receptacles and they […]

Kelim, Chapter 19, Mishnah 9

Kelim, Chapter Nineteen, Mishnah Nine   Mishnah Nine 1)      A box whose opening is at the side is susceptible to both midras uncleanness  and corpse uncleanness. 2)     Rabbi Yose said: When does this apply? When it is less than ten handbreadths in height or when it does not have a rim one handbreadth deep.     3)      […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction After the introductory chapter, our mishnah begins to deal with the purity and impurity of vessels.   Mishnah One 1)      Vessels of wood, vessels of leather, vessels of bone or vessels of glass: a)      If they are simple they are clean b)      If they form a receptacle they […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that vessels become pure when they are broken. Our mishnah modifies yesterday’s mishnah, by teaching that the vessels are “broken” and thereby pure only when they are no longer usable. If pieces of the vessel can be used for any purpose, that piece […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction In our mishnah we learn that earthenware vessels are susceptible to impurity only if they have an “inner part” that is made to receive something.   Mishnah Three 1)      The following are not susceptible to impurity among earthen vessels: a)      A tray without a rim, b)      A broken […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      A lantern that has a receptacle for oil is susceptible to impurity, but one that has none is not susceptible. 2)      A potter’s mould on which one begins to shape the clay is not susceptible to impurity, but that on which one finishes it is susceptible.   […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the covers of various types of vessels.   Mishnah Five 1)      The covers of wine jars and oil jars and the covers of papyrus jars are not susceptible to impurity a)      But if he adapted them for use as receptacles they are susceptible. 2)      […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      A damaged jar found in a furnace: a)      Before its manufacture was complete it is not susceptible to impurity,   b)      But if after its manufacture was complete it is susceptible.   2)      A sprinkler: a)      Rabbi Eliezer bar Zadok holds it is not susceptible to impurity; b)      […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our Mishnah deals with some vessels that have multiple parts. The main issue at hand is whether all parts become unclean if one part does.   Mishnah Seven The following among earthen vessels are susceptible to impurity: 1)      A tray with a rim, 2)      An unbroken fire-pan, 3)      […]

Kelim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      A torch is susceptible to impurity. 2)      And the reservoir of a lamp contracts impurity through its air- space.   3)      The comb of a tzartzur: a)      Rabbi Eliezer says: it is not susceptible to impurity,   b)      But the sages say that it is susceptible.   Explanation […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Twenty, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      Pillows, bed coverings, sacks and packing cases that were damaged are still susceptible to midras uncleanness.   2)      A fodder-bag that can hold four kav, a shepherd’s bag that can hold five kav, a  traveling bag that can hold a se’ah, a skin that can hold seven […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Twenty, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      A bagpipe is not susceptible to midras uncleanness.   2)      A trough for mixing mortar: a)      Bet Shammai says: it is susceptible to midras uncleanness , b)      And Bet Hillel says it is susceptible to corpse  uncleanness only.   3)      If a trough of a capacity from two […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If a stick was used as a handle for a hatchet, it is regarded as connected for uncleanness at the time of use. 2)      A yarn winder is regarded as connected for uncleanness at the time of its use. 3)      If it was fixed to a […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 4

Kelim, Chapter Twenty, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If a large trough was so damaged that it could no longer hold pomegranates and he fixed it to be used as a seat: a)      Rabbi Akiva says that it is susceptible to uncleanness, b)      But the sages say that it remains clean unless its rough […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 5

Kelim, Chapter Twenty, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      A wood block  that was fixed to a row on a wall, whether he fixed it and did not built upon it or built upon it but did not fix it, it is susceptible to uncleanness.     a)      If he fixed it and also built upon, it […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 6

Kelim, Chapter Twenty, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If a sheet that was susceptible to midras uncleanness made into a curtain, it becomes clean from midras uncleanness but it is still susceptible to corpse uncleanness. 2)      When does it become insusceptible to [midras] uncleanness?     a)      Bet Shammai says: when the loops have been tied […]

Kelim, Chapter 20, Mishnah 7

Kelim, Chapter Twenty, Mishnah Seven   Introduction A mat for lying upon was normally made in the following way: reeds would be placed across its breadth every four handbreadths. Lengthwise they would weave straw and other such material. People would lie between the reeds, because it was not comfortable to lie on the hard reeds. […]

Kelim, Chapter 21, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Twenty-One, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a situation where a completed unclean woven garment is on a loom and a person touches various parts of the loom. Parts that are considered to be connected to the woven garment defile the person who touches them, whereas parts that are not considered […]

Kelim, Chapter 21, Mishnah 2

Kelim, Chapter Twenty-One, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah is similar to yesterday’s except that it discusses instruments connected to the plow.   Mishnah Two 1)      One who touches the yoke, the crossbar, the collar-piece, or the thick ropes, even when they are being used, he remains clean.      2)      If he touched the tail piece, […]

Kelim, Chapter 21, Mishnah 3

Kelim, Chapter Twenty-One, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      One who touches the handle of a saw at either end  becomes unclean;    2)      [If he touched] its string, cord, cross-piece or side-pieces, a carpenter’s vice, or the bow-handle of a bow-drill, he remains clean.     a)      Rabbi Judah says: so too he who touches the frame […]

Kelim, Chapter 22, Mishnah 1

Kelim, Chapter Twenty-One, Mishnah One   Mishnah One If a table or a side-board was damaged or he covered them with marble but room was left for cups to be set, it is unclean. Rabbi Judah ruled: there must be room enough for pieces of food.   Explanation Section one: The mishnah describes two situations. […]

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