Torah Readings

Each week in synagogue, we read (or, more accurately, chant, because it is sung) a passage from the Torah. This passage is reffered to as a parshah. The first parshah, for example, is Parashat 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 reach the last portion of the Torah around a holiday called Simkhat Torah (Rejoicing in the Law), which occurs in October, a few weeks after Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). On Simkhat 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 reffered to as a haftarah. Contrary to common misconception, "haftarah" does not mean "half-Torah." The word comes from the Hebrew root Feh-Tet-Resh 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 reffered 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 aliyoth 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 reffered 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 reffered 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 inserted after each week's parshah.

Table of Weekly Parshiyot

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.

Parashat Torah Haftarah
BereishitGenesis 1:1-6:8Isaiah 42:5-43:11
(Isaiah 42:5-42:21)
NoachGenesis 6:9-11:32Isaiah 54:1-55:5
(Isaiah 54:1-10)
Lekh LekhaGenesis 12:1-17:27Isaiah 40:27-41:16
VayeiraGenesis 18:1-22:24II Kings 4:1-4:37
(II Kings 4:1-4:23)
Chayei SarahGenesis 23:1-25:18I Kings1:1-1:31
ToldotGenesis 25:19-28:9Malachi 1:1-2:7
VayeitzeiGenesis 28:10-32:3Hosea 12:13-14:10
(Hosea 11:7-12:12)
VayishlachGenesis 32:4-36:43Hosea 11:7-12:12
VayyeshevGenesis 37:1-40:23Amos 2:6-3:8
MiqeitzGenesis 41:1-44:17I Kings 3:15-4:1
VayigashGenesis 44:18-47:27Ezekiel 37:15-37:28
VayechiGenesis 47:28-50:26I Kings 2:1-12
ShemotExodus 1:1-6:1Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-29:23
(Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)
Va'eiraExodus 6:2-9:35Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
BoExodus 10:1-13:16Jeremiah 46:13-46:28
BeshalachExodus 13:17-17:16Judges 4:4-5:31
(Judges 5:1-5:31)
YitroExodus 18:1-20:23Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-9:6
(Isaiah 6:1-6:13)
MishpatimExodus 21:1-24:18Jeremiah 34:8-34:22; 33:25-33:26
TerumahExodus 25:1-27:19I Kings 5:26-6:13
TetzavehExodus 27:20-30:10Ezekiel 43:10-43:27
Ki TisaExodus 30:11-34:35I Kings 18:1-18:39
(I Kings 18:20-18:39)
VayaqhelExodus 35:1-38:20I Kings 7:40-7:50
(I Kings 7:13-7:26)
PequdeiExodus 38:21-40:38I Kings 7:51-8:21
(I Kings 7:40-7:50)
VayiqraLeviticus 1:1-5:26Isaiah 43:21-44:23
TzavLeviticus 6:1-8:36Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-9:23
SheminiLeviticus 9:1-11:47II Samuel 6:1-7:17
(II Samuel 6:1-6:19)
TazriaLeviticus 12:1-13:59II Kings 4:42-5:19
MetzoraLeviticus 14:1-15:33II Kings 7:3-7:20
Acharei MotLeviticus 16:1-18:30Ezekiel 22:1-22:19
(Ezekiel 22:1-22:16)
QedoshimLeviticus 19:1-20:27Amos 9:7-9:15
(Ezekiel 20:2-20:20)
EmorLeviticus 21:1-24:23Ezekiel 44:15-44:31
BeharLeviticus 25:1-26:2Jeremiah 32:6-32:27
BechuqotaiLeviticus 26:3-27:34Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
BamidbarNumbers 1:1-4:20Hosea 2:1-2:22
NassoNumbers 4:21-7:89Judges 13:2-13:25
Beha'alotkhaNumbers 8:1-12:16Zechariah 2:14-4:7
ShelachNumbers 13:1-15:41Joshua 2:1-2:24
QorachNumbers 16:1-18:32I Samuel 11:14-12:22
ChuqatNumbers 19:1-22:1Judges 11:1-11:33
BalaqNumbers 22:2-25:9Micah 5:6-6:8
PinchasNumbers 25:10-30:1I Kings 18:46-19:21
MattotNumbers 30:2-32:42Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
MaseiNumbers 33:1-36:13Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
(Jeremiah 2:4-28; 4:1-4:2)
DevarimDeuteronomy 1:1-3:22Isaiah 1:1-1:27
Va'etchananDeuteronomy 3:23-7:11Isaiah 40:1-40:26
EiqevDeuteronomy 7:12-11:25Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Re'ehDeuteronomy 11:26-16:17Isaiah 54:11-55:5
ShoftimDeuteronomy 16:18-21:9Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Ki TeitzeiDeuteronomy 21:10-25:19Isaiah 54:1-54:10
Ki TavoDeuteronomy 26:1-29:8Isaiah 60:1-60:22
NitzavimDeuteronomy 29:9-30:20Isaiah 61:10-63:9
VayeilekhDeuteronomy 31:1-31:30Isaiah 55:6-56:8
Ha'azinuDeuteronomy 32:1-32:52II Samuel 22:1-22:51
Vezot HaberakhahDeuteronomy 33:1-34:12Joshua 1:1-1:18
(Joshua 1:1-1:9)

Table of Special Parshiyot

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.

ParashatTorah Maftir Haftarah
Rosh Hashanah, Day 1Gen 21:1-34Num 29:1-6I Sam 1:1-2:10
Rosh Hashanah, Day 2Gen 22:1-24Jer 31:1-19
Shabbat ShuvahHos 14:2-10
Mic 7:18-20
Yom Kippur, MorningLev 16:1-34Num 29:7-11Is 57:14-58:14
Yom Kippur, AfternoonLev 18:1-30Jonah 1:1-4:11
Micah 7:18-20
Sukkot, Day 1Lev 22:26-23:44Num 29:12-16Zech 14:1-21
Sukkot, Day 2I Kings 8:2-21
Sukkot, Chol Ha-moed Day 1Num 29:17-25
Sukkot, Chol Ha-moed Day 2Num 29:20-28
Sukkot, Chol Ha-moed Day 3Num 29:23-31
Sukkot, Chol Ha-moed Day 4Num 29:26-34
Sukkot, Intermediate ShabbatEx 33:12-34:26Ezek 38:18-39:16
Hoshanah RabbahNum 29:26-34
Shemini AtzeretDeut 14:22-16:17Num 29:35-30:1I Ki 8:54-9:1
Simkhat TorahDeut 33:1-34:12
Gen 1:1-2:3
Num 29:35-30:1Josh 1:1-18
(Josh 1:1-9)
Chanukkah, Day 1Num 7:1-17
Chanukkah, Day 2Num 7:18-29
Chanukkah, Day 3Num 7:24-35
Chanukkah, Day 4Num 7:30-41
Chanukkah, Day 5Num 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 8Num 7:54-8:4
Chanukkah, First ShabbatDay 6: Num 28:9-15Zech 2:14-4:7
Chanukkah, Second ShabbatNum 7:54-8:4I Ki 7:40-50
SheqalimEx 30:11-16II Ki 11:17-12:17
(II Ki 12:1-17)
ZakhorDeut 25:17-19I Sam 15:1-34
PurimEx 17:8-16
ParahNum 19:1-22Ezek 36:16-38
(Ezek 36:16-36)
Ha-ChodeshEx 12:1-20Ezek 45:16-46:18
(Ezek 45:18-46:18)
Shabbat Ha-GadolMal 3:4-24
Pesach (Passover), Day 1Ex12:21-51Num 28:16-25Josh3:5-7; 5:2-6:1; 6:27
(Josh 5:2-6:1)
Pesach (Passover), Day 2Lev 22:26-23:44II Ki 23:1-9; 21-25
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-moed Day 1Ex 13:1-16;
Num 28:19-25
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-moed Day 2Ex 22:24-23:19;
Num 28:19-25
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-moed Day 3Ex 34:1-26;
Num 28:19-25
Pesach (Passover), Chol Ha-moed Day 4Ex 9:1-14;
Num 28:19-25
Pesach (Passover)
Intermediate Shabbat
Ex 33:12-34:26Num 28:19-25Ezek 37:1-37:14
(Ezek 36:37-37:14)
Pesach (Passover), Day 7Ex 13:17-15:26II Sam 22:1-51
Pesach (Passover), Day 8 (weekday)Deut 15:19-16:17Is 10:32-12:6
Pesach (Passover), Day 8 (Shabbat)Deut 14:22-16:17
Shavu'ot, Day 1Ex19:1-20:23Num 28:26-31Ezek 1:1-28; 3:12
Shavu'ot, Day 2 (weekday)Deut 15:19-16:17Hab 2:20-3:19
Shavu'ot, Day 2 (Shabbat)Deut 14:22-16:17
Tisha B'Av, MorningDeut 4:25-40Jer 8:13-9:23
Tisha B'Av, AfternoonEx 32:11-14, 34:1-10Isaiah 55:6-56:8
(Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20)
Minor Fasts, MorningEx 32:11-14; 34:1-10Is 55:6-56:8
Minor Fasts, AfternoonEx 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 28:9-15Is 66:1-24

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