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.


Introduction to Orlah

Introduction to Orlah   Tractate Orlah is concerned with fruit that grows on a tree during its first three years of growth. The laws are all based on Leviticus 19:23-24:   When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden (arel). Three years its fruit shall […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Our mishnah teaches that if a fruit tree is planted for a reason other than to provide fruit, it is exempt from the laws of orlah and its fruit may be eaten within the first three years of growth. This law is a great example of the strong […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah deals with situations in which a tree is exempt from the laws of orlah, or situations in which it is subject, even though one might have thought that it should be exempt.   Mishnah Two 1)      If at the time when our ancestors came into the […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah discusses whether a replanted tree counts as if it was newly planted, such that one would have to wait another three years before its produce could be eaten.   Mishnah Three 1)      If a tree was uprooted and the hard soil together with it, or if […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with when a tree is considered to have been uprooted.   Mishnah Four 1)      If a tree was uprooted and one root was left [in the ground], it is exempt.  2)      How much must the [thickness of the] root be?   a)      Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction There are two agricultural practices mentioned in this mishnah. The first is taking a branch from a vine, bending it down into the ground and then bringing it up again elsewhere. Underground the branch will grow new roots. Our mishnah will ask the question of how to reckon […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah deals with orlah or a vineyard into which seeds had been planted which then become mixed up with non-prohibited plants or produce. The question is: does this mixture become nullified if the prohibited part is less than 1/200 of the permitted part?   Mishnah Six 1)      […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with the subject of what parts of a vine are prohibited because of orlah.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Leaves, sprouts, sap of vines, and vine-buds are permitted in respect of orlah and the laws of the fourth year, and to a nazirite, but are prohibited […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with what parts of the grape or fruit are subject to the laws of orlah, the asherah (idol-tree), the nazirite prohibitions and fourth-year vineyards.   Mishnah Eight 1)      Defective grapes, grape kernels, grape husks, and the temed drink made from them, the peel […]

Orlah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 9

Orlah, Chapter One, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah deals with planting things that come from an orlah tree which is orlah.   Mishnah Nine 1)      Rabbi Yose says: one may plant a shoot of orlah; 2)      But one may not plant a nut of orlah, because it is fruit. 3)      And one may not […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction The second chapter of orlah deals with mixtures consisting of permitted and forbidden produce. Specifically the issue is, when does the prohibited part of the mixture become nullified by the permitted part of the mixture?   Mishnah One 1)      Terumah, terumat maaser of demai, hallah and bikkurim, are […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 10

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Our mishnah deals with seasonings and when they prohibit a dish into which they fell.   Mishnah Ten 1)      Seasonings [consisting] of two or three categories of one species, or [consisting] of three species [of one category], are forbidden and combine.   2)      Rabbi Shimon said: Two or three […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 11

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction Today’s mishnah discusses leaven of hullin and terumah that fall into dough and neither is sufficient to cause fermentation alone, but together they do cause fermentation.   Mishnah Eleven Leaven of hullin and of terumah fell into dough, and neither this was sufficient to cause fermentation nor was […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 12

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction In this mishnah, a man by the name of Yoezer provides testimony that Rabban Gamaliel the elder, a sage who lived while the Temple still stood, agreed with the sages’ opinion in yesterday’s mishnah, that forbidden leaven never causes dough to become prohibited unless there is enough forbidden […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 13

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Thirteen   Introduction This mishnah is not related to the chapter’s main topic, mixtures of forbidden and permitted produce. Rather the same phrase that appears in mishnah eleven, where Rabbi Eliezer says “I go after the first,” appears here. The mishnah deals with vessels, such as shoes or other leather clothes, […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 14

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Fourteen   Introduction This mishnah deals with leaven of terumah and leaven of kilayim which fell into dough. Neither piece of leaven is sufficient to cause fermentation, but together they cause fermentation. According to the rabbis’ opinion found in mishnah ten, the dough is not prohibited to everyone because of the […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 15

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Fifteen   Introduction This mishnah contains the same debate that was found in yesterday’s mishnah, except yesterday the mishnah dealt with leaven and fermentation, and today the mishnah deals with seasonings. Again the majority view holds that the two forbidden substances, terumah and kilayim, combine to cause the dish to be […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 16

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Sixteen   Introduction Our mishnah contains yet another dispute between the sages and Rabbi Shimon over whether prohibited substances can join together to create a prohibition.   Mishnah Sixteen 1)      A piece of [meat from] one of the most holy [sacrifices] and [a piece] of [meat which is] piggul, or remnant, […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 17

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seventeen   Introduction The final mishnah of this rather long chapter deals with sacrifices that were cooked together with ordinary meat.   Mishnah Seventeen Meat of most holy [sacrifices] and meat of less holy [sacrifices] were cooked together with ordinary meat: [the dish] is prohibited to the unclean, but permitted to […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction In this mishnah we learn that if terumah and orlah are mixed in together, each counts with regard to creating the necessary ratio for the other to be voided.   Mishnah Two 1)      Terumah can void orlah, and orlah can void terumah. 2)      How so? a)      [For instance] […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah is similar to the previous mishnah, but it talks about orlah and kilayim, instead of orlah and terumah.   Mishnah Three 1)      Orlah can void kilayim, and kilayim [can void] orlah, and orlah [can void] orlah.   2)      How so? A seah of orlah falls into two […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction In the above mishnayot we learned that terumah is nullified if it falls into a mixture that is more than a ratio of 100 to 1 and orlah and kilayim are nullified in a ratio of 200 to 1. Today’s mishnah limits this principle.   Mishnah Four 1)      […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that Bet Shammai holds that unclean hametz (leaven) or spices can render a mixture unclean, even if there is only the smallest amount of the unclean leaven or spices. Bet Hillel says that there must be the volume of an egg. In today’s […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah begins to explain two rules with regards to when mixtures of prohibited and permitted substances are prohibited.   Mishnah Six 1)      Concerning what did they say: “Anything that causes fermentation or seasons or which renders medumma we rule stringently”? a)      [In the case of] a species […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah illustrates the second principle in yesterday’s mishnah, that when there are different species mixed together, one permitted and one prohibited, sometimes we rule leniently and sometimes we rule stringently.   Mishnah Seven 1)      [We rule sometimes] leniently and [sometimes] stringently, [in the case of] a species […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah deals with a situation in which two batches of leaven fall into dough—one being hullin (non-sacred) and one being terumah or kilayim.   Mishnah Eight If leaven of hullin has fallen into dough, and there was enough of it to cause fermentation, and after that leaven […]

Orlah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 9

Orlah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Nine   Introduction In yesterday’s mishnah, the terumah leaven fell into already-leavened dough before the dough had begun to ferment, and therefore, since the terumah leaven may have sped up the fermenting process, the dough was prohibited. In today’s mishnah, the leaven falls in after the dough has already been fermented. […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction The prohibition of orlah extends not only to eating fruit from an orlah tree, but to deriving any benefit from such fruit, or even from the peel of the fruit. The next several mishnayot deal with various objects that can become prohibited by making use of orlah.   […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a single thread that was dyed with orlah dye and then woven into a garment. The length of this thread is the length of a sit which is explained by some to mean the distance between one’s thumb and forefinger, while others explain it […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah deals with threads that come from various prohibited sources and the consequences of their being woven into garments.   Mishnah Three 1)      If one wove thread the whole [length] of a sit from [the wool of a] first-born animal into a garment, the garment must be […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with a cooked dish that was heated up by burning shells from orlah nuts or peels from orlah fruit.   Mishnah Four 1)      A dish which one cooked with shells of orlah must be burned. 2)      If [the dish] became mixed up with other [dishes], […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah is nearly identical to mishnah four, except it deals with bread baked in an oven lit with shells of orlah nuts (or peels of orlah fruit). Like the cooked dish in mishnah four, this bread cannot be eaten and must be burned. If it becomes mixed […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction In this mishnah we see another case in which Rabbi Meir says that when one prohibited item becomes mixed in with other items they all must be burned, whereas the other rabbis say that the prohibited item is neutralized in a ratio of 200-1.   Mishnah Six 1)      […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In this mishnah we finally hear the basis for the disagreement between Rabbi Meir and the other sages.   Mishnah Seven 1)      For Rabbi Meir used to say: anything that is normally [sold] by counting causes [a mixture] to become consecrated [in even the smallest amount]. 2)      But […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah provides an exception to the rule in yesterday’s mishnah.   Mishnah Eight If the nuts cracked, or if the pomegranates burst open, or the casks became unstopped, or the pumpkins were cut, or the loaves were broken up, they become neutralized in two-hundred-and-one.   Explanation In […]

Orlah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 9

Orlah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Nine   Introduction The final mishnah in tractate Orlah is concerned with the status of doubtful orlah and kilayim in the land of Israel and outside of it.   Mishnah Nine 1)      Doubtful orlah: in the land of Israel is prohibited, in Syria is permitted, and outside the land one may […]

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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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