What Are Torah Portions?

It is believed that Ezra, in Babylon during the 4th century B.C. (Before Christ), established a systematic reading of Torah to counter the illiteracy of the Jewish people. During the Babylonian captivity, synagogues were begun and served as houses of study. There, weekly readings were read. During the time of the apostles at the Council at Jerusalem, the Apostle James gave the directive that the Gentiles who were turning to God were to continue attending synagogue and listening to the Torah portions.

“…For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:21)

What Are Torah Portions?

From the Babylonian captivity through today, each week every synagogue all over the world reads the same portion of  Scripture. This portion or section of Scripture is called the Torah portion or Parasha. The Torah has been divided into 54-weekly readings (plus special festival passages). Between two and six chapters are assigned each week, plus an additional reading from the Haftarah (selected readings from the prophets).

At Congregation Faithful Stewardship, we, include passages from the Torah, haftarah, and the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament).

Simchat Torah, at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles (during September/October), is the celebration of the completion of the 12-month reading cycle of the first five books. The following week, the cycle begins again with Genesis 1:1 (called Bereshit).

Name of Each Portion

Since there were no chapter nor verse designations prior to nor during the time of the Apostles, the portion was referred to by the first Hebrew word or phrase of that specific portion. For example, one is called Vayikra, a Hebrew word for He Called. A Rabbi would say, “You will find where it says, He called to Moses.” Everyone understood that he was referring to Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26).

When Does an Individual Read the Parashat HaShavuah?

Parashat HaShavuah, a Hebrew phrase, translates portion of the week — i.e., the specific portion or section of Scripture scheduled to be read during a particular week. The Parashat HaShavuah is issued on Sunday and is culminated and discussed on Shabbat.

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