The Weekly Parasha (Torah Portion)
Weekly Torah portion פרשת השבוע
The Torah is made of five Books :
- The Book of Bereshit or Genesis
- The Book of Shemot or Exodus
- The Book of Vayikra or Leviticus
- The Book of Bamidbar or Numbers
- The Book of D’varim or Deuteronomy
The names of those Books correspond to the first words in Hebrew written in the portion of the Torah. For example:
The word Bereshit בראשית means « At the beginning... »
The word Shemot שמות means « Names »
The word Vayikra ויקרא means « And (the L-rd) called... »
The word Bamidbar במדבר means « In the desert... »
The word D’varim דבריםmeans « ...the words... »
Each Shabbat, and all year around, a portion of the Torah is read each morning at the service.
And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up; and he entered, according to his custom, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. Luke 4:16
In this way, the Torah is read on a year cycle by all the Jewish people together in all four corners of the earth at the same time than in Israel. The end of the Feast of Sukkoth (Tabernacles) closes the Torah reading with a Feast called Simchat Torah : the Joy of the Torah.
This reading which starts with the Creation and ends with the entering in the Holy Land leads us, through the journey of the Israelites, to the learning of the knowledge of the G-d , Creator of the heavens and the the earth. It is an Allyah, an ascent to the Promised Land, the learning of the life with G-d, and the Jewish people is the prophetic lively reflect of it.
Moshe (Moses), despite his stature and his rightful title of great prophet, won’t enter the Promised Land, because this privilege has only been granted to the One who has the ability of leading us into His Shabbat, where the ideal of the Torah is fully achieved,...In Him.
The Torah is divided in 54 portions. Each portion or Parasha is read along with a portion of the Prophets, called Haftara :
And the book of the prophet Esaiah was given to him; and having unrolled the book he found the place where it was written,The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach glad tidings to the poor; he has sent me to preach to captives deliverance, and to the blind sight,to send forth the crushed delivered, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.And having rolled up the book, when he had delivered it up to the attendant, he sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he began to say to them, To-day this scripture is fulfilled in your ears. Luke 4 :17-21
The Haftara is a complementary reading and has a similar significance than the weekly Torah portion read each Shabbat morning.
It was the Men of the Great Assembly, composed of 120 rabbis who came back from the exile of Babylon who canonized the Tanach (Bible) and classified the different books and readings.
The word Tanach is an acrostic for the following books :
Torah composed of the five first books:
Neviim (Prophets) composed of the first prophets :Joshua Judges Samuel (I and II) Kings (I and II)
And of the last prophets :Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel
Which include the twelve little prophets: Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Ketuvim (Writings) composed of the :Psalms Proverbs Job Song of Songs Ruth Lamentations Ecclesiastes Esther Daniel Ezra Nehemiah Chronicles (I et II)
This classification has been changed later by the Christians and this is why there is a difference between the Christian Bibles and the Jewish Tanach who kept the original.
“... who are Israelites; whose [is] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law-giving, and the service, and the promises; whose [are] the fathers; and of whom, as according to flesh, [is] the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Romans 9:4-5