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.

Zavim

Introduction to Tractate Zavim

Introduction to Tractate Zavim   A “zav” is a man who had a non-seminal genital discharge, assumedly do to some illness. When a man has two such discharges, he must count seven days before he can go to the mikveh and become pure, however he is not obligated to bring a sacrifice unless he sees […]

Zavim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Zavim, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      If a man has seen one issue of zov:  a)      Bet Shammai says: he is to be compared to [a woman] who observes day a for each day. b)      But Bet Hillel says: he is to be compared to one who has had a seminal emission.  […]

Zavim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Zavim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction A zav must wait for seven clean days to become pure. Our mishnah deals with a man who during those seven days in which he is supposed to be clean sees a discharge of semen.   Mishnah Two 1)      If one sees an issue of semen on the […]

Zavim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Zavim, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three If he saw one issue on one day and two on the next day, or two on one day and one on the next day, or three on three [consecutive] days, or three nights, he is a full zav.   Explanation This mishnah lays out the bottom […]

Zavim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Zavim, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If he saw one [issue] and it stopped long enough for an immersion and a drying, and after that he saw two issues, or one as copious as two; 2)      Or if he saw two [issues] or one as copious as two, and it stopped long […]

Zavim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Zavim, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If he saw one issue which was as copious as three, lasting as long [as it takes to go] from Gad-Yav to Shiloah, which is the time it would take to bathe and dry twice, he becomes a full zav. 2)      If he saw one issue […]

Zavim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Zavim, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a man who has an issue at twilight. The question is does the change of day divide one issue into two issues?   Mishnah Six 1)      If he saw one issue during the day and another at twilight, or one at twilight and the […]

Zavim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Zavim, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      All persons become unclean through zivah, even converts, even slaves whether freed or not, a deaf-mute, a person of unsound senses, and a minor, a eunuch whether [he had been castrated] by man, or was a eunuch from [the time of seeing] the sun.  2)      With […]

Zavim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Zavim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction Zivah comes only from a genital disease or dysfunction. The rabbis considered it to be in a sense diseased semen (I know, this sounds a bit humorous). It has a different color from semen. If the rabbis could establish that the zivah came from another cause besides some […]

Zavim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Zavim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      One who had [a discharge of] semen does not defile due to zivah for a period of twenty-four hours.   a)      Rabbi Yose says: [only] that day. 2)      A non-Jew who had a discharge of semen and then converted, he immediately becomes unclean due to zivah.  3)      […]

Zavim, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Zavim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with how a zav defiles things.   Mishnah Four 1)      A zav defiles the objects that are lain upon (or sat upon) in five ways, so that they defile people and garments: by standing, sitting, lying, hanging or leaning. 2)      What he lies upon defiles […]

Zavim, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Zavim, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      A zav and a clean person who sat together in a boat, or on a raft, or rode together on a beast, even though their garments did not touch, behold they are impure through midras. 2)      If they sat together on a plank, on a bench […]

Zavim, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Zavim, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a series of cases in which a zav and a clean person are jointly performing some action. In each case, there is one opinion that holds that the clean person has been defiled, or might have been defiled, and there is one opinion that […]

Zavim, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Zavim, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If the zav and the clean person sat together in a large boat: (what is considered a large boat? Rabbi Judah said: one that does not sway with a man’s weight), or if they sat on a plank, bench, bed-frame, or beam when these were firmly […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      Rabbi Joshua said: if a menstruant sat in a bed with a clean woman, [even] the cap on her head contracts midras uncleanness. a)      And if she sat in a boat, the vessels on the top of the mast [also] contract midras uncleanness.  2)      If there […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      If he knocked against a strong beam, a window-frame, water-pipe, a shelf, even though it was fixed with ropes, or an oven, a flour container, the lower mill-stone, the base of a hand-mill, or the se’ah measure  of an olive-grinder, [the loaf remains clean].   2)      Rabbi […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If he knocked against a door, doorbolt, lock, oar, mill basket,   or against a weak tree, or weak branch of a strong tree, or against an Egyptian ladder unsecured by nails, or against a bridge, beam or door, not made secure with clay, they become unclean.   […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction A zav who lies on something makes it unclean. Our mishnah deals with cases where a zav lies on multiple items—do they all become impure, or can we isolate which one(s) he really laid upon?   Mishnah Four 1)      A zav who lays across five benches, or five […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      Ten cloaks one on top of the other, if he sat on the uppermost one, all are unclean.   2)      A zav who was one one scale of a balance and in the other scale opposite there were objects fit to sit or lie upon: a)      If […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If a zav [sat] in one scale of the balance, while food and liquids were in the other scale, [the latter become] unclean. 2)      In the case of a corpse, everything remains clean except for a man. 3)      This is [an example of] the greater stringency […]

Zavim, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Zavim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Four 1)      If he sat on a bed and there were four cloaks under the four legs of the bed, all become unclean, since the bed cannot stand on three legs;  a)      But Rabbi Shimon declares them clean.   2)      If he rode on a beast and there were […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      One who touches a zav, or whom a zav touches, who moves  a zav or whom a zav moves, defiles by contact food and liquids and vessels that are rinsed, but not by carrying.  2)      A general principle was stated by Rabbi Joshua: anyone that defile […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 10

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Ten   Mishnah Ten 1)      He who touches a dead sheretz, or semen, or he that has suffered corpse uncleanness, or a metzora during his days of counting,  or hatat waters of insufficient quantity with which to perform the sprinkling,  or carrion, or an object ridden upon [by a zav], defiles […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 11

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Eleven   Mishnah Eleven 1)      He who has had a seminal emission is like one who has touched a dead sheretz. 2)      And one who has had sex with a menstruant is like one who has suffered corpse uncleanness.   3)      But one who has had sex with a menstruant is more […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 12

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction The final mishnah of this tractate (I’m sure you’re sad we’re done) discusses what things disqualify terumah. These things don’t actually defile the terumah. Rather, the rabbis added a layer of stringency with regard to their impurity such that they would render terumah unfit for use.   Mishnah […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah provides some general rules as to how a zav defiles things that are either above him or below him that he does not touch.   Mishnah Two 1)      They said yet another general principle: All that is carried above a zav becomes defiled, but all those […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah compares how three objects, (1) something that a zav has sat or laid upon, (2) carrion and (3) a piece of a human corpse, defile without contact.   Mishnah Three 1)      Whatever carries or is carried by objects on which one sits or lies upon remain […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If part of an unclean person rests upon a clean person, or part of a clean person upon an unclean person, or if things connected to an unclean person [rest] upon a clean person, or if things connected to a clean person upon one unclean, he […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If an unclean person rests upon part of an object fit to lie upon, or a clean person   rests upon part of an object fit to lie upon, it becomes unclean.   2)      If part of an unclean person rests on an object fit to lie upon, […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      He who touches a zav, or a zavah, a menstruant, or a woman after childbirth, or a metzora, or any object on which these had been sitting or lying, conveys uncleanness at two [removes] and disqualifies [terumah] at one [further remove].   2)      If he separated, he […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 7

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      If one touches the discharge of a zav, his spittle, semen or urine, or the blood of a menstruant, he conveys uncleanness at two [removes], and disqualifies [terumah] at one [more remove]; 2)      If he separated,   he defiles at one [remove] and disqualifies [terumah] at one […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 8

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      If he carried something which was ridden upon, or if he was carried on it, or he had shifted it, he defiles at two [removes], and disqualifies [terumah] at one [more remove]; a)      But if he became separated [from the uncleanness], he defiles at one [remove] […]

Zavim, Chapter 5, Mishnah 9

Zavim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Today’s mishnah talks about a person who eats the nevelah (carrion) of a clean bird. In Toharot 1:1 we learned that this carrion defiles him once it is in his gullet. There are more details about the laws governing the carrion of a clean bird in that mishnah, […]

Learn by Email

Mishnah Yomit

Learn one Mishnah each day with the Conservative Yeshiva's Mishnah Yomit, prepared by faculty member Dr. Joshua Kulp.