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Torah Readings

Level: Intermediate

• Torah is divided into 54 portions for weekly reading in synagogue
• There are also special readings for holidays and other days

Each week in synagogue, we read (or, more accurately, chant, because it is sung) a passage from the Torah. This passage is referred to as a parshah. The first parshah, for example, is Parshat Bereishit, which covers from the beginning of Genesis to the story of Noah. There are 54 parshahs, one for each week of a leap year, so that in the course of a year, we read the entire Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) in our services. During non-leap years, there are 50 weeks, so some of the shorter portions are doubled up. We read the last portion of the Torah right before a holiday called Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Law), which occurs in October, a few weeks after Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). On Simchat Torah, we read the last portion of the Torah, and proceed immediately to the first paragraph of Genesis, showing that the Torah is a circle, and never ends.

In the synagogue service, the weekly parshah is followed by a passage from the prophets, which is referred to as a haftarah. Contrary to common misconception, "haftarah" does not mean "half-Torah." The word comes from the Hebrew root Fei-Teit-Reish and means "Concluding Portion". Usually, haftarah portion is no longer than one chapter, and has some relation to the Torah portion of the week.

The Torah and haftarah readings are performed with great ceremony: the Torah is paraded around the room before it is brought to rest on the bimah (podium). The reading is divided up into portions, and various members of the congregation have the honor of reciting a blessing over a portion of the reading. This honor is referred to as an aliyah (literally, ascension).

The first aliyah of any day's reading is reserved for a kohein, the second for a Levite, and priority for subsequent aliyot are given to people celebrating major life events, such as marriage or the birth of a child. In fact, a Bar Mitzvah was originally nothing more than the first aliyah of a boy who had reached the age to be permitted such an honor. Celebrants of life events are ordinarily given the last aliyah, which includes blessing the last part of the Torah reading as well as blessing the haftarah reading. The person given this honor is referred to as the maftir, from the same root as haftarah, meaning "the one who concludes."

For more information about services, see Jewish Liturgy.

Jewish scriptures are sometimes bound in a form that corresponds to this division into weekly readings. Scriptures bound in this way are generally referred to as a chumash. The word "chumash" comes from the Hebrew word meaning five, and refers to the five books of the Torah. Sometimes, a chumash is simply refers to a collection of the five books of the Torah. But often, a chumash contains the entire first five books, divided up by the weekly parshiyot, with the haftarah portion for each week inserted immediately after the week's parshah.

Table of Weekly Parshiyot 

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Below is a table of the regular weekly scriptural readings. Haftarot in parentheses indicate Sephardic ritual where it differs from Ashkenazic. There are other variations on the readings, but these are the most commonly used ones. If you want to know the reading for this week, check the Current Calendar.

There are additional special readings for certain holidays and other special days, listed in a separate table below.

Parshah Torah Haftarah
Bereishit Genesis 1:1-6:8 Isaiah 42:5-43:11
(Isaiah 42:5-42:21)
Noach Genesis 6:9-11:32 Isaiah 54:1-55:5
(Isaiah 54:1-10)
Lekh Lekha Genesis 12:1-17:27 Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Vayeira Genesis 18:1-22:24 II Kings 4:1-4:37
(II Kings 4:1-4:23)
Chayei Sarah Genesis 23:1-25:18 I Kings1:1-1:31
Toldot Genesis 25:19-28:9 Malachi 1:1-2:7
Vayeitzei Genesis 28:10-32:3 Hosea 12:13-14:10
(Hosea 11:7-12:12)
Vayishlach Genesis 32:4-36:43 Hosea 11:7-12:12
(Obadiah1:1-1:21)
Vayyeshev Genesis 37:1-40:23 Amos 2:6-3:8
Miqeitz Genesis 41:1-44:17 I Kings 3:15-4:1
Vayigash Genesis 44:18-47:27 Ezekiel 37:15-37:28
Vayechi Genesis 47:28-50:26 I Kings 2:1-12
Shemot Exodus 1:1-6:1 Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-29:23
(Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)
Va'eira Exodus 6:2-9:35 Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Bo Exodus 10:1-13:16 Jeremiah 46:13-46:28
Beshalach (Shabbat Shirah) Exodus 13:17-17:16 Judges 4:4-5:31
(Judges 5:1-5:31)
Yitro Exodus 18:1-20:23 Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-9:6
(Isaiah 6:1-6:13)
Mishpatim Exodus 21:1-24:18 Jeremiah 34:8-34:22; 33:25-33:26
Terumah Exodus 25:1-27:19 I Kings 5:26-6:13
Tetzaveh Exodus 27:20-30:10 Ezekiel 43:10-43:27
Ki Tisa Exodus 30:11-34:35 I Kings 18:1-18:39
(I Kings 18:20-18:39)
Vayaqhel Exodus 35:1-38:20 I Kings 7:40-7:50
(I Kings 7:13-7:26)
Pequdei Exodus 38:21-40:38 I Kings 7:51-8:21
(I Kings 7:40-7:50)
Vayiqra Leviticus 1:1-5:26 Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Tzav Leviticus 6:1-8:36 Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-9:23
Shemini Leviticus 9:1-11:47 II Samuel 6:1-7:17
(II Samuel 6:1-6:19)
Tazria Leviticus 12:1-13:59 II Kings 4:42-5:19
Metzora Leviticus 14:1-15:33 II Kings 7:3-7:20
Acharei Mot Leviticus 16:1-18:30 Ezekiel 22:1-22:19
(Ezekiel 22:1-22:16)
Qedoshim Leviticus 19:1-20:27 Amos 9:7-9:15
(Ezekiel 20:2-20:20)
Emor Leviticus 21:1-24:23 Ezekiel 44:15-44:31
Behar Leviticus 25:1-26:2 Jeremiah 32:6-32:27
Bechuqotai Leviticus 26:3-27:34 Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
Bamidbar Numbers 1:1-4:20 Hosea 2:1-2:22
Nasso Numbers 4:21-7:89 Judges 13:2-13:25
Beha'alotkha Numbers 8:1-12:16 Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Shelach Numbers 13:1-15:41 Joshua 2:1-2:24
Qorach Numbers 16:1-18:32 I Samuel 11:14-12:22
Chuqat Numbers 19:1-22:1 Judges 11:1-11:33
Balaq Numbers 22:2-25:9 Micah 5:6-6:8
Pinchas Numbers 25:10-30:1 I Kings 18:46-19:21
Mattot Numbers 30:2-32:42 Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
Masei Numbers 33:1-36:13 Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
(Jeremiah 2:4-28; 4:1-4:2)
Devarim Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 Isaiah 1:1-1:27
Va'etchanan Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 Isaiah 40:1-40:26
Eiqev Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Re'eh Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 Isaiah 54:11-55:5
Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Ki Teitzei Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 Isaiah 54:1-54:10
Ki Tavo Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 Isaiah 60:1-60:22
Nitzavim Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Vayeilekh Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30 Isaiah 55:6-56:8
Ha'azinu Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52 II Samuel 22:1-22:51
Vezot Haberakhah Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12 Joshua 1:1-1:18
(Joshua 1:1-1:9)

Table of Special Parshiyot 

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Below are additional readings for holidays and special Shabbats. Haftarot in parentheses indicate Sephardic ritual where it differs from Ashkenazic. Note that on holidays, the Maftir portion ordinarily comes from a different Torah scroll. The Maftir portion is usually the Torah portion that institutes the holiday or specifies the holiday's offerings.

Parshah Torah Maftir Haftarah
Rosh Hashanah, Day 1 Gen 21:1-34 Num 29:1-6 I Sam 1:1-2:10
Rosh Hashanah, Day 2 Gen 22:1-24 Jer 31:1-19
Shabbat Shuvah     Hos 14:2-10
Mic 7:18-20
Yom Kippur, Morning Lev 16:1-34 Num 29:7-11 Is 57:14-58:14
Yom Kippur, Afternoon Lev 18:1-30   Jonah 1:1-4:11
Micah 7:18-20
Sukkot, Day 1 Lev 22:26-23:44 Num 29:12-16 Zech 14:1-21
Sukkot, Day 2 I Kings 8:2-21
Sukkot, Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 1 Num 29:17-25    
Sukkot, Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 2 Num 29:20-28    
Sukkot, Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 3 Num 29:23-31    
Sukkot, Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 4 Num 29:26-34    
Sukkot, Intermediate Shabbat Ex 33:12-34:26   Ezek 38:18-39:16
Hoshanah Rabbah Num 29:26-34    
Shemini Atzeret Deut 14:22-16:17 Num 29:35-30:1 I Ki 8:54-9:1
Simchat Torah Deut 33:1-34:12
Gen 1:1-2:3
Num 29:35-30:1 Josh 1:1-18
(Josh 1:1-9)
Chanukkah, Day 1 Num 7:1-17    
Chanukkah, Day 2 Num 7:18-29    
Chanukkah, Day 3 Num 7:24-35    
Chanukkah, Day 4 Num 7:30-41    
Chanukkah, Day 5 Num 7:36-47    
Chanukkah, Day 6 (Rosh Chodesh) Num 28:1-15
Num 7:42-47
   
Chanukkah, Day 7 (not Rosh Chodesh) Num 7:48-59    
Chanukkah, Day 7 (Rosh Chodesh) Num 28:1-15
Num 7:42-47
   
Chanukkah, Day 8 Num 7:54-8:4    
Chanukkah, First Shabbat   Day 6: Num 28:9-15 Zech 2:14-4:7
Chanukkah, Second Shabbat   Num 7:54-8:4 I Ki 7:40-50
Sheqalim   Ex 30:11-16 II Ki 11:17-12:17
(II Ki 12:1-17)
Zakhor Deut 25:17-19   I Sam 15:1-34
Purim Ex 17:8-16    
Parah   Num 19:1-22 Ezek 36:16-38
(Ezek 36:16-36)
Ha-Chodesh   Ex 12:1-20 Ezek 45:16-46:18
(Ezek 45:18-46:18)
Shabbat Ha-Gadol     Mal 3:4-24
Pesach (Passover), Day 1 Ex12:21-51 Num 28:16-25 Josh3:5-7; 5:2-6:1; 6:27
(Josh 5:2-6:1)
Pesach (Passover), Day 2 Lev 22:26-23:44 II Ki 23:1-9; 21-25
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 1 Ex 13:1-16;
Num 28:19-25
   
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 2 Ex 22:24-23:19;
Num 28:19-25
   
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 3 Ex 34:1-26;
Num 28:19-25
   
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-mo'ed Day 4 Ex 9:1-14;
Num 28:19-25
   
Pesach (Passover)
Intermediate Shabbat
Ex 33:12-34:26 Num 28:19-25 Ezek 37:1-37:14
(Ezek 36:37-37:14)
Pesach (Passover), Day 7 Ex 13:17-15:26 II Sam 22:1-51
Pesach (Passover), Day 8 (weekday) Deut 15:19-16:17 Is 10:32-12:6
Pesach (Passover), Day 8 (Shabbat) Deut 14:22-16:17
Shavu'ot, Day 1 Ex19:1-20:23 Num 28:26-31 Ezek 1:1-28; 3:12
Shavu'ot, Day 2 (weekday) Deut 15:19-16:17 Hab 2:20-3:19
Shavu'ot, Day 2 (Shabbat) Deut 14:22-16:17
Tisha B'Av, Morning Deut 4:25-40   Jer 8:13-9:23
Tisha B'Av, Afternoon Ex 32:11-14, 34:1-10   Isaiah 55:6-56:8
(Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20)
Minor Fasts, Morning Ex 32:11-14; 34:1-10   Is 55:6-56:8
(none)
Minor Fasts, Afternoon Ex 32:11-14; 34:1-10    
Shabbat Mevarekhim (Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh)     I Sam 20:18-42
Rosh Chodesh (weekday) Num 28:1-15    
Rosh Chodesh (Shabbat)   Num 28:9-15 Is 66:1-24

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