WEEKLY PARSHAH – TORAH READING & HAFTARAH
The Torah is divided into the Five Books of Moses, and each book is divided into about 10 portions. There are 54 portions in total, and the Jewish community reads one a week over an annual cycle that begins each fall on the holiday of Simchat Torah.
HAFTARAH – Pronounced: hahf-TOErah or hahf-TOE-ruh, Origin: Hebrew, is a selection from one of the biblical books of the Prophets that is read in synagogue immediately following the Torah reading. A haftarah should “resemble” the Torah reading of the day. The haftarah is, in fact, usually linked to a theme or genre from the Torah reading and offer consolation and encouragement. Only about 1/3 of the Prophets text is constructed into a weekly haftarah reading.
“… we must first acquaint ourselves with Judaism through the source which it, itself, offers, the only documentation and evidence about itself that it has salvaged from the wreck of all its other fortunes: the Torah. And through the Torah we must attain, also, an understanding of Israel’s destiny. For is not Judaism an historical phenomenon, and is not the Torah the only account of its origin, of its first appearance on the stage of history and of its existence for a considerable length of time thereafter? … Before we open it, however, let us consider how to read it. As a subject for philological or antiquarian research? … As Jews we will read this book, as a book tendered to us by God in order that we learn from it about ourselves, what we are and what we should be during our earthly existence. We will read it as Torah— literally, ‘instruction’ —directing and guiding us within God’s world and among humanity, making our inner self come alive.” – Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), The Nineteen Letters bible quotes