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.


Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah teaches what species counts as grain and is therefore subject to all of the laws associated with grain.   Mishnah One 1)      Five species [of grains] are subject to [the law of] hallah: wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye. 2)      These are subject to hallah, and […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with the consequences of the fact that only these five species are considered to be grain.   Mishnah Two 1)      If one has eaten of [these five] on Pesah an olive-size piece of matzah, he has fulfilled his obligation. 2)      [If he ate […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah teaches that although some things are exempt from tithes, they may still be liable for hallah.   Mishnah Three The following are subject to hallah, but exempt from tithes: gleanings, from the forgotten sheaf, from peah or from ownerless produce and the first tithe from which […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is the opposite of yesterday’s mishnah. Today, the mishnah lists things that are, for various reasons, liable for tithes, but exempt from hallah.   Mishnah Four The following are liable for tithes, but exempt from hallah: rice, millet, poppy-seed, sesame seeds, pulse, and less than five-fourths […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss sponge-cakes, which we learned yesterday were not liable for hallah. Sponge-cakes were made from watery dough and they were cooked either just in the sun, or with a little heat in a pan over an open flame. Since they are not made like […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah deals with other various types of dough and whether it is exempt from hallah.   Mishnah Six 1)      Meisah: a)      Bet Shammai exempts [from hallah], b)      And Bet Hillel makes liable [for hallah].   2)      Halita: a)      Bet Shammai makes liable, b)      And Bet Hillel exempts.   3)      […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with dough prepared by a baker and whether it is liable for hallah.   Mishnah Seven 1)      A baker who made dough to divide it up into pieces, it is subject to hallah.   2)      Women who gave [flour] to a baker to make for them […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah deals with dough made for the consumption of dogs. The mishnah deals with whether this dough is treated like human food, which carries with it a number of implications.   Mishnah Eight Dough for dogs: 1)      If shepherds eat it: a)      it is subject to hallah, […]

Hallah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 9

Hallah, Chapter One, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Today’s mishnah lists similarities between the rules concerning terumah with those concerning hallah.   Mishnah Nine In the case of hallah and terumah: 1)      One is liable for death on account of [having eaten] them death [intentionally], or to [repay] an added fifth [if unwittingly];   2)      They are […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah deals with whether one is liable to separate hallah from produce that is grown outside the land of Israel.   Mishnah One 1)      Produce [grown] outside the land [of Israel] that came into the land is subject to Hallah. 2)      [If it] went out from here […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      Earth from outside the land has come to the land [of Israel] in a boat, [the produce grown in it] is subject to tithes and to the [law relating to] the seventh year.  2)      Rabbi Judah: when does this apply? When the boat touches [the ground].  […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah deals with two topics. The first is separating hallah while naked—perhaps there was a nudist colony? The second is how to make dough while ritually impure. This is a problem because ritually impure hallah cannot be eaten—it must be burned.   Mishnah Three 1)      A woman […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the topic of how kavs of dough that were kneaded separately can join to constitute the necessary amount of dough to be liable for hallah.   Mishnah Four 1)      One who makes his dough [in separate] kavs, and they touch one another, they are […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with someone who separates his hallah before the flour has been mixed with water to become dough. The Torah says that you are supposed to give the first of “your dough” to the kohen, not the flour before it becomes dough. Our mishnah rules that […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah teaches the basic law that we have encountered several times—1 ¼ kav of flour is liable for hallah. If there is less, one need not remove hallah.   Mishnah Six 1)      Five-fourths [of a kav] of flour are subject to hallah. 2)      If their leaven, their […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah teaches the minimum measure of hallah that a person must separate from his dough. We should note that this measure is not set by the Torah. According to Torah law, even the tiniest amount would exempt the dough. However, as we saw in the case of […]

Hallah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Hallah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction In this mishnah Rabbi Eliezer finds a way to give hallah from pure dough in order to exempt a separate batch of impure dough.   Mishnah Eight 1)      Rabbi Eliezer says: Hallah may be taken from [dough] that is clean, [in order to exempt] that which is unclean.   […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the question of when one can eat dough without separating hallah.   Mishnah One 1)      One may snack from dough, until it is rolled, in [the case of] wheat [flour], or before it is made into a solid mass, in [the case of] barley […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 10

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah returns us to the subject that was first raised in mishnah seven above—dough from wheat flour that is mixed in with dough from rice flour. As a reminder, wheat flour is subject to the laws of hallah whereas rice flour is not.   Mishnah Ten 1)      […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that once a woman rolls out wheat dough it becomes liable for terumah. Our mishnah teaches some differences between the rules that apply before she rolls out the dough and those that apply after she rolls out the dough.   Mishnah Two 1)      […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with differences between the rules that apply before she rolls the dough and those that apply afterwards.   Mishnah Three 1)      [If] she dedicated her dough [to the Temple] before rolling it, and then redeemed it, it is subject [to hallah]. 2)      [If […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah. This time the subject is tithes.  Produce becomes liable for tithes once its processing is completed. This very same mishnah appeared in Peah 4:8. My commentary here is the same as I wrote there.     Mishnah Four 1)      Similarly […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction Only dough owned by a Jew is subject to hallah, not dough owned by a Gentile. This mishnah teaches when the dough is considered to be owned by a Jew.   Mishnah Five 1)      If a Gentile gave [flour] to an Israelite to make for him dough, it […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      A convert who converted and had dough: if it was made before he became a convert, he is exempt [from hallah]. a)      After he converted, he is liable. 2)      And if there is doubt, he is liable, but [a non-priest who has unwittingly eaten of such […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      One who makes dough from wheat [flour] and from rice [flour]—if it has a taste of grain, it is subject to hallah, and one can fulfill one’s obligation with it on Pesah. 2)      But if it does not have the taste of grain, it is not […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Before people bought yeast at the supermarket, people used starter dough to leaven their bread. They would take a piece of leavened dough (sour dough) from one batch and put it into another batch. Our mishnah deals with a person who takes starter dough from a batch of […]

Hallah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 9

Hallah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Nine   Introduction When one harvests olive trees, and some olives are left in the tree, the poor have the right to come and strike the tree to bring down the last remaining olives. Similarly, if there are grapes that are not fully formed at the regular time of harvest, they […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah discusses the difference between cases where two batches of dough from the same species come into contact and cases where two batches of dough from different species come into contact.   Mishnah One 1)      Two women who made [separate doughs] from two [separate] kavs, and these […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 10

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Our mishnah mentions people who did two things that were against rabbinic law. The first thing is that they brought hallah from outside of Israel into Israel. The rabbis forbade bringing hallah or terumah into Israel from outside Israel. This was prohibited in order to discourage priests from […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 11

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.   Mishnah Eleven 1)      Ben Antigonus brought up firstlings from Babylon, but they did not accept from him. 2)      Joseph the priest brought first fruits of wine and oil, but they did not accept from him. 3)      He also brought […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction In the beginning of the tractate we learned that there are five species of grain: wheat, barley, rye, spelt and oats. Here we see that for the purpose of mixtures of different types of grain, these don’t all count as separate species. Rather, in most cases, these different […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with the topic of when separate batches of dough join together. The mishnah describes a situation in which there are three batches of dough in a row. The first batch and the third batch are subject to hallah but the middle batch, which […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      A kav of [dough made from] new grain and a kav of [dough from] old grain which are stuck together: a)      Rabbi Ishmael says: let him take [hallah] from the middle; b)      But the sages prohibit.   2)      One who has taken hallah from [dough made out […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah. It continues to discuss a situation where a person separated hallah from dough that was smaller than the minimum measure.   Mishnah Five 1)      Two [separate] kavs [of dough], this one had its hallah removed on its own, and this […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah is complicated and I will explain it entirely, as opposed to line by line, below.   Mishnah Six A man may take the requisite amount for hallah out of [clean] dough from which hallah has not [previously] been removed in order to remove it in a […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In rabbinic language “Syria” refers to the land that borders the land of Israel to the north and east but is not considered fully part of Israel.  The rules of tithing and terumah do apply to produce grown by a Jew in Syria but one who purchases produce […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 8

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eight   Introduction In today’s mishnah Rabban Gamaliel defines the borders of Israel with regard to the issue of hallah. This same division is found in Sheviit 6:1, so I am not going to explain the geographical or historical issues here. Please look there for more information. According to the Torah, […]

Hallah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 9

Hallah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Nine   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that one can give hallah from outside of Israel to any priest, even an am haaretz who might defile it, because there is no prohibition of defiling this hallah. Our mishnah continues to list other priestly gifts that can be given to any […]

Introduction to Hallah

Introduction to Hallah   Hallah is the part of the dough that is separated and given to the priests. It is referred to in Numbers 15: 18-21:   When you enter the land to which I am taking you and you eat of the bread of the land, you shall set aside some as a […]

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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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