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.

Maasrot

Introduction to Maasrot

Introduction to Maasrot   First tithe, the first tenth of one’s produce, are given to the Levites. The only verses in the Torah which deal with this tithe is Numbers 18:21-24:   21 And to the Levites I hereby give all the tithes in Israel as their share in return for the services that they […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah teaches two general principles with regard to what foods cannot be eaten before they are tithed.   Mishnah One 1)      They said a general principle concerning tithes: whatever is food, and is looked after, and grows from the land, is liable for tithes.  2)      And they […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah lists various fruits of the tree and teaches when each of them becomes liable for tithes. The general principle seems to be that they are liable at the earliest point at which they are edible. Since the words are self-explanatory I do not offer any explanation […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to teach when various types of produce become liable for tithes. Again, since it is self-explanatory, there are no comments below.   Mishnah Three 1)      Carobs [are liable to] tithes after they form dark spots; similarly all black fruits after they form dark spots. 2)      […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah begins to discuss when vegetables and other fruits that are eaten in early stages of ripening begin to become liable for tithes.   Mishnah Four With regard to when vegetables [are liable to tithes]:   1)      Cucumbers, gourds, water-melons, cucumber-melons, apples and etrogs are liable [for tithes], […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah begins dealing with the issue of when produce become liable for tithes (see introduction). The mishnah calls this a “threshing floor” because at the threshing floor grain becomes liable for tithes. By extension, all produce is liable for tithes once its processing has been completed. After […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      Dried pomegranate seeds, raisins and carobs, [are liable for tithes] after he has made a pile. 2)      Onions, once he removes the onion seeds.   a)      If he does not remove the onion seeds, after he makes a pile. 3)      Grain, once he smoothes out the pile.   […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with when wine and oil become liable for tithes.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Wine [is liable for tithes] after it has been skimmed [in the lower part of the winepress]. a)      Even though it has been skimmed, he may take from the upper winepress, or […]

Maasrot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The final mishnah of our chapter deals with figs.   Mishnah Eight 1)      A cake of pressed figs [is liable for tithes] from the moment it has been smoothed out [with fruit juice].   2)      They may smooth them out with [the juice of] untithed figs or grapes. a)      […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with someone who gets produce from someone else while walking on the street. There are two questions here: 1) can he eat them without tithing? 2) What if they were already tithed?   Mishnah One 1)      If one was passing through the street, and said […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with people who receive figs from passersby (I’d like to receive figs from passersby, but I guess people aren’t as nice as they used to be) and with the question of whether they can eat the figs before they tithe them.   Mishnah […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that bring one’s produce into another person’s home doesn’t make the produce liable for tithes.  Only bringing it into one’s own home makes it liable for tithes. In today’s mishnah we learn about people traveling on the road and staying at other people’s […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a person who separated terumah from his produce before he finished its processing and before he separated the tithes.   Mishnah Four 1)      Produce from which he separated terumah before its work was finished:   a)      Rabbi Eliezer says: it is forbidden to make a […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction In our mishnah we learn that produce that has been sold and bought cannot be eaten, even in a chance fashion, until it has been tithed.   Mishnah Five 1)      One who says to his friend: “Here is this issar, give me five figs for it”, he may […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah teaches ways in which a person can buy produce and yet continue to eat it without tithing.   Mishnah Six 1)      One who says to his friend: “Here is an issar for ten figs which I choose for myself,” he may choose them and eat [one […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction According to the rabbinic interpretation of Deuteronomy 23:25-26, the Torah allows a worker in a field to eat from the owner’s produce while he is working in the field (see also Bava Metzia 7:2). The produce that he eats is not considered a wage and hence it can […]

Maasrot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with when a worker working in field must tithe his produce. Some of the concepts of this mishnah were already taught in Bava Metzia 7:4.   Mishnah Eight 1)      If a man is working [as a hired worker] among cooking figs, he may […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with when workers can eat their employer’s produce without first tithing it.   Mishnah One 1)      One who was taking figs through his courtyard to be dried, his children and the other members of his household  may eat [of them] and they are […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 10

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah deals with the situation in which the trunk of a tree is found in one type of domain but its branches hang over into another.   Mishnah Ten 1)      A fig tree which stands in a courtyard, and hangs over into a garden: one may eat […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with the issue of when workers may eat of their employer’s produce without tithing.   Mishnah Two 1)      One who brought his workers into the field, when he is not obligated to provide for them, they may eat and be exempt from tithes.   […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction According to the rabbis’ interpretation of the Torah, a worker may eat from his employer’s produce only if he is working at the end of the processing of the produce. If he is tending to the field, he may not pluck produce that is still attached to the […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction Most of this mishnah deals with fruit that one finds—can one eat it without tithing?   Mishnah Four 1)      If one found cut figs on the road, or even beside a field [where cut figs] have been spread [to dry], and similarly, if a fig tree overhangs the […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction Bringing produce into a house causes it to become liable for tithes. Under certain circumstances, bringing the produce into a courtyard can also make it liable for tithes. In our mishnah five (!) tannaim debate what type of courtyard makes produce liable for tithes. The general principle is […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah deals with other architectural structures and with whether they, like some courtyards, cause produce to become liable for tithes.   Mishnah Six 1)      Roofs do not render [produce] liable, even though they belong to a courtyard which renders it liable.   2)      A gate house, portico, or […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with huts or “sukkah” like structures and whether they render produce liable for tithes. Part of the issue here is how similar these structures are to houses, which do render produce liable for tithes.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Cone-shaped huts, watchtowers, and sheds in the […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah deals with the interesting situation of a tree that is growing in one’s courtyard—can one eat from the fruit without tithing? In other words, does this count as “produce brought into the courtyard” which usually means that it can’t be eaten without tithing?   Mishnah Eight […]

Maasrot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 9

Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with plants growing inside a courtyard.   Mishnah Nine 1)      A vine which was planted in a courtyard: one may take a whole cluster [and eat it without tithing]. Similarly with a pomegranate, or a melon, the words of Rabbi Tarfon. 2)      Rabbi […]

Maasrot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Maasrot, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with various steps that make, or in some cases do not make, produce liable for tithes.   Mishnah One 1)      If he pickled, stewed, or salted [produce], he is liable [to give tithes]. 2)      If he stored [produce] in the ground [in order to warm […]

Maasrot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Maasrot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction The entrance of Shabbat makes produce liable for tithes. Since Shabbat is important, any eating done on Shabbat is also significant and cannot be considered “chance eating” which is exempt from tithes. Our mishnah contains several issues related to this general rule.   Mishnah Two 1)      Children who […]

Maasrot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Maasrot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah deals with olives that were put into a vat in order to soften and prepare them for the pressing process.   Mishnah Three 1)      One who took olives from a vat may dip them one at a time in salt, and eat them.  2)      But if […]

Maasrot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Maasrot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a person who wants to drink wine that he drew straight from the winepress.   Mishnah Four 1)      One may drink [wine] out of the winepress, whether [it is mixed] with hot or cold water, and be exempt [from tithes], the words of Rabbi […]

Maasrot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Maasrot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      One who husks barley may husk one at a time and eat [without tithing], but if he husked and put them into his hand, he is liable [to tithe].   2)      One who rubs [ears of] wheat may blow out [the chaff of the wheat] from hand […]

Maasrot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Maasrot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction In today’s mishnah Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiba debate which parts of various plants must be tithed. Again, the general principle is that whatever part one is going to preserve in order to eat is the part that is liable for tithes.   Mishnah Six 1)      […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      One who uproots saplings from of his own [property] and plants them [elsewhere] within his own [property] is exempt [from tithes].  2)      If he bought [saplings] attached to the ground, he is exempt. 3)      If he gathered them in order to send them to his fellow, […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      One who uproots turnips and radishes from within his own [property] and plants [them elsewhere] within his own [property] for the purpose of seed, he is liable to tithe, since this is [equivalent to] their threshing floor.  2)      If onions take root in an upper story […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction The first three mishnayot of chapter one taught that fruit is not liable for tithes until it has reached a certain stage of ripening. Our mishnah teaches that after it has reached that stage one may no longer sell it to a person who is suspected of not […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with selling produce to a person not trusted to tithe.   Mishnah Four 1)      One may not sell his straw, nor his olive peat, or his grape pulp to one who is not to be trusted in [with respect to] tithes, for him […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Introduction In rabbinic language “Syria” refers to the land that borders 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 in Syria can […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Introduction “Temed” is a drink made from the grape-skins that have already been pressed to make wine. They would pour water over the grape-skins and they would give some taste to the water. Our mishnah deals with giving tithe from “temed.” These grape-skins would not have been tithed for […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 7

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah deals with grain found in anthills, and whether or not such grain must be tithed.   Mishnah Seven Anthills which have remained the whole night near a pile of grain which was liable to tithe,   [the grain found in them] is liable, since it is obvious […]

Maasrot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 8

Maasrot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      Garlic from Balbeck, onions from Rikpa, Cicilician beans and Egyptians lentils, and Rabbi Meir says qirqas, and Rabbi Yose says qotnym are exempt from tithes and may be brought from any man in the seventh year.    2)      The seeds of upper arum pods, the seeds […]

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Mishnah Yomit

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