What is a Parashah?

If you divide the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah) into the number of weeks in a leap year, you would get 54 sections. These Bible portions are called parashahs ("Torah portion"). And the premise is that you will spend the entire year reading the entire Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). 

We love reading out of the Complete Jewish Study Bible. It has the parashahs already separated out. Each one is named, and it includes the Torah reading (reading from the first 5 books in the Bible), Haftarah reading (a correlating reading from the Prophets), and B'rit Hadashah reading (correlated New Testament reading).  

Each parashah has a name. The name comes from the first few words of that reading. For example, parashah 1 is named b'resheet (in the beginning), which are the first three words in that portion. 

The reading cycle begins each new year, but not our Gregorian new year, the original Hebrew new year, which is actually in the fall time. There is even a holiday that marks the cycle starting over again, called Simchat Torah. 

This is the traditional way of reading scripture in synagogues around the world, even in the time of Yeshua Jesus (Luke 4:16-18, Acts 13:15, and Acts 15:21).

What we love about parashah reading is that is gives great framework to reading scripture throughout the year, it is aligned with the Hebrew calendar, and it makes understanding and celebrating the Biblical holidays much easier. It also gives a rich and fertile foundation for understanding the New Testament. Knowing the Hebrew roots, growing them deep, makes the riches in the New Testament so much sweeter. 

Do we only read the parashah?

No, we don't. But we prioritize it and at a minimum we read the Torah. But we try to read all suggested readings for the week (Old Testament and New Testament). Often times, a reading from the parashah will spark a question that leads to searching other parts of scripture. For example, in the Parashah 15: Bo (Go), we read about how precise God's timing was in delivering the people out of Egypt. 

"The time the people of Isra'el lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years to the day, all the divisions of ADONAI left the land of Egypt. This was a night when ADONAI kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when ADONAI keeps vigil for all the people of Isra'el through all their generations." Exodus 12:40-42

From these verses, the importance and specificity of God's timing really stuck out to us. It said "to the day", and how this day is still important to God, where He still keeps a vigil to remember. After reading this, we wanted to know if 430 was mentioned anywhere else in scripture, so it led us to a few other places in the Bible, including Galatians 3-4, where another reference was made to this time of 430 years. And so much more was revealed about Abraham's seed, and how the seed of salvation was Messiah Yeshua Jesus.  

From those verses in Exodus, we also just realized how incredible it is that God still keeps a vigil on that night. And suddenly, it became even more important to us to celebrate and remember Pesach Passover every year. Both because He asked us to over and over ("you are to celebrate it by a perpetual regulation" Exodus 12:14, "perpetual regulation" Exodus 12:17, "You are to observe this ... forever" Exodus 12:24), and because we know He is doing the same thing. He is literally keeping a vigil. We want to join it. Do what He does and set our minds on what He is setting His mind on.

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