The Parashot (Parashah is singular) is a schedule of readings in the Torah. This is not a mitzvah (command), a custom Yeshua yielded to and demonstrated. The schedule is the same each year, the named parashah (portion) being read at any given time of year will always be the same year to year. There is a parashah of Torah read on each Shabbat, a parashah of the Prophets, called “haftarah,” which means ‘parting,’ and for Messianic Jews, a parashah of the Brit Khadashah (The Renewed Covenant). Each parashah has its own name, such as “Parashat B’reshit” [portion of Genesis], getting its name from the first word in the parashah, “In the beginning.”
It becomes clear the custom of Torah and Haftarah reading was in place in Messiah’s time. We see the practice as He approached the Bimah (raised platform) to read Yesha-Yahu [Isaiah] scroll handed to him. This suggest it was time to read from the Isaiah scroll! We believe Yeshua read a prophecy about Himself when He read! [ Luke 4:16 ]. In all likelihood this is the anniversary of His birth. It is the custom to read the parashot from the Bimah on the anniversary of your birth. Ezra and Nehemiah and the other prophets of their day established a reading schedule, which ensures that if a person attends the Synagogue regularly, he will hear the whole Torah over a period of time, repeatedly for the rest of his life. Ya’akov [James] also alludes to this in Ma’asei HaShlikhim (Acts) 15:21, “For Moshe, from the very early centuries, had preachers in the synagogues in every city to read his books on every sabbath day.” This is what the goal was: to make sure everyone heard/read the Torah completely!
The important part of the Parashot custom is for it to be done together.
Tehillim (Psalms) 133 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in perfect unity!” This is the same concept mentioned in the Shabbat command, of keeping the Sabbath in “all your dwellings [settlements].” What better place to dwell together than in His Word!
Ezrah (Ezra) 3:1 And when the seventh khodesh (Moon) was come, and B’nei Yisra’el (Children of Israel) were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). A similar event occurs in the Brit Khadashah:
Ma’asei HaShlikhim (Acts) 2:1 “And when the days of Shavu’ot were counted, while they were assembled together…”
There are hundreds of scriptures speaking about unity/unison, crying out in one voice, in both “Old and New” testaments. Unity in prayer and in reading is not about losing self-identity and autonomy, but recognizing we are not our own. We are bought at a price from slavery just as Israel, and we are part of something greater than the individual. The parashah gets us focused on the Torah together, but leaves us room as individuals to “glean” from the Ruakh HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) what Abba [The Father] would speak. It is indeed a beautiful picture, since we are indeed individuals who are part of one body.
And Messiah honored the custom while He was in Israel.
The Haftarah sections are readings from the Prophets. Ma’asei HaShlikhim (Acts) 13:27 show us they were read each Shabbat:
“For inasmuch as the inhabitants of Yerushalayim and their leaders did not understand Him nor the books of the Nevi’im (Prophets) which are read every Yom Shabbat (Day of Shabbat), they condemned Him; but all the things which were written have been fulfilled.”
These readings may differ somewhat according to differing traditions.
The Brit Khadashah (Renewed Covenant/New Testament) readings are established according to subject content and added at a later date, and may differ from teacher to teacher.
The lunar calendar determines the months for Yisrael, which establishes the annual reading cycle as well. The month of the Aviv (first month) determines when the year begins, which means the seasons must be kept in their proper time. For the barley must be ripe for the wave sheaf offering, after the first day of unleavened bread. The extra month of Adar (to expand) is added in the leap year which can be about every third or fourth year. This is determined by the concurrent Aviv and New Moon. If the Aviv and New Moon do not occur together after the 12th moon, second Adar is added, hence a thirteenth moon. By following this calendar we maintain the seasons in their Mo’edim [appointed times.] This method adds 4 to 5 Shabbatot in the “leap year,” and you may see notes in some of the parashot indicating individual or combined readings.
Torah parashah blessing before reading:
Blessed are You, O יהוה our Elohim, King of the Universe, Who has chosen us from all peoples, and has given us Your Torah. Blessed are You O יהוה, giver of the Torah.
After the readings:
This is the Torah which Moshe placed before the children of Yisra’el. It is in accord with the command of יהוה by the hand of Moshe. A tree of life it is for those who take hold of it, and blessed are the ones who support it. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace; long life is in its right hand, in its left are riches and honor. יהוה was pleased, for the sake of His Righteousness, to render the Torah GREAT and GLORIOUS.
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