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.


Passover: A Reflection on Boundaries & Their Dissolution

  The public areas of international airports represent a particular type of multi-cultural coexistence. People from all over the world come together and share space in close proximity. The faces of the crowd are of all hues and their clothes reflect different cultural and religious traditions. Broadly speaking, in these shared spaces, people get on […]

Passover: Birkhat HaChama

On Wednesday, April 8, 2009, the Jewish world celebrated not only Leil HaSeder, but also Birkhat HaChama (the Blessing of the Sun).  This ritual is done every 28 years, to mark the return of the sun and the earth to their original alignment (time and day) as it was at Creation.  The spring of Year […]

Passover: Cleaning Out Hametz

The prohibition of hametz is unique – even to own a small amount is to transgress, and it is forbidden to all Jews to have any benefit from hametz that was Jewish-owned during Pesach. The Torah itself annuls all Jewish ownership of hametz on Pesach: the only halakhic meaning of a Jew keeping it in […]

Passover: Freedom – a Gift and a Task

Jews are commanded in two mitsvot concerning recalling the exodus from Egypt. We are commanded to mention it every day, and we are commanded to recount the story on the night of the fifteenth of Nisan.  For the daily mitsvah, a mere mention to oneself is sufficient; for the night of the seder one is […]

Passover: Peshat and Derash on the Haggadah

Since I began writing historical commentary on the Haggadah (The Schechter Haggadah), word has gotten around that I am “the Haggadah guy,” and people have begun to approach me for my evaluation of their understanding of particular points in the Haggadah and Seder. Occasionally these are creative readings of certain texts, at other times they […]

Passover: Revolutionary Moments in the History of Pesah

The Pesah Seder is full of threes and fours. In this brief article I would like to deal with a “five”—what I term the fivefold history of the celebration of Pesah. Dividing the Jewish celebration of Pesah into five historical periods provides us with an overall perspective of the history of the holiday, where it […]

Passover: Rich Matzah, Poor Matzah

Rich Matza Poor Matza E-Shiur Sources (pdf) Rich Matza Poor Matza E-Shiur (pdf) Since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. the central symbol of the seder is clearly the matzah. Indeed already in the Torah, the festival is called “The Festival of Matzot.” What then exactly is matzah? What does it signify? […]

Passover: Seder Learning Activity

Going from Observer to Participant – A Rest Stop on the Exodus from Egypt The Torah tells us that Am Yisrael left Egypt in a rush (“b’chipazon”, Deut 16:3).  One way Lel HaSeder recalls the Exodus is that it, too, is often rushed.  This is a short text study which can provide a pause en […]

Passover: The Social Side of Pesach

The tone in the Torah for Pesach is different. Each Israelite was bidden to take a lamb for a family, a lamb for a household.

Passover: Who Really Split the Sea?

Who Really Split the Sea CY Sourcesheet (pdf) Who Really Split the Sea E-Shiur (pdf) When the children of Israel reached the sea, they were trapped. Behind them was Pharaoh’s marauding army and in front of them the sea. With nowhere to go they were terrified, sensing that death was imminent. Outwardly, Moshe tried to calm […]


These Holiday Shiurim, prepared by Conservative Yeshiva faculty members, were made possible by a generous grant from Temple Zion Israelite Center, Miami, Florida. Multi-session courses about holiday topics can be found in Shiurim's Course list. Additional commentary about the development of holiday practices are available in Shiurim - The Online Beit Midrash's Rabbinic Texts section.
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