web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Sidra Or Parasha?


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: I have noticed that some refer to the weekly Torah portion as Parashat Hashavua while others refer to it as the week’s Sidra. Which is correct?
Eliyahu Tewel
Via E-Mail
ANSWER: Indeed, my uncle HaRav Sholom Klass, zt”l, discussed this matter in detail (Responsa of Modern Judaism Vol. 3, p. 154). The following is his explanation:A sidra refers to the weekly portion of the Torah we read every Shabbat. A parasha represents a passage or topic in the Torah. Nowadays the Ashkenazim call the part we read on Shabbat a ‘sidra’ while the Sepharadim call it a ‘parasha.’

The term sidra originally meant ‘order’ or ‘arrangement’ (seder) and is frequently used in the Talmud to denote a section of the Bible either read in the synagogue or studied in the study hall. In the Gemara (Yoma 87a) Rashi explains the statement that Rav read a sidra before Rabbi (Judah the Prince) to mean a section of the Prophets or the Hagiographa.

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anit 4:3) applies the term sidra to a section of the Torah to be read in the synagogue. In the Gemara (Shabbat 116b) it is said that in Nehardea the people used to read a sidra of the Hagiographa at the Mincha service of Shabbat. Tosafot (ibid. 24a), however, explain this to refer to the Haftara, which they used to read at the Mincha service. The word sidra also appears in Megilla (21). Later this term began to be used by the Ashkenazim to denote the weekly portion of the Pentateuch, just as parasha is used by the Sepharadim.

Masechet Sofrim, one of the minor tractates (end of chapter 16), explains that there were 175 sedarim or parashiyot, one for each of the years our Patriarch Abraham lived. Nachalat Yaakov (ibid.) explains that the reason for so many sedarim is that in those years they would complete reading the Torah in Israel in 175 weeks, or three-and-a-half years, 50 sedarim (or sedarot, the Hebrew plural – and its possessive form, sidrot) in one year. In Babylonia and at the present time, the Pentateuch is completed every year (baraita, Megilla 31a).

The Masorah figures the sedarim (sedres in Yiddish) at 158, which is the number you will find itemized at the end of the Five Books of Moses. This assumes that the Pentateuch was completed in approximately three years, not three-and-a-half years.

Today, when we complete reading the Torah in one year, we figure the number of sedarot/sedarim at 54. The Masoretic Bible published by Ginsburg (London 1894) lists the division of the sedarim/sedarot according to the triennial cycle. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1905) also lists that number.

The Gemara (Megilla 31) itemizes the order of the weekly and festival readings according to the many divisions which Ezra the Scribe and his Anshei Knesset HaGedola (the Men of the Great Assembly) established as well as the reasons for it. According to Rav Achai Gaon, the sections were combined to be read in one year during the era of the Amoraim in Babylon. The annual cycle, in which we repeat the Torah every year, was established because of the persecution of Jews that started at that time in the Diaspora, and it was difficult for Jews to study the Torah. In order not to forget the Torah, they condensed the cycle from three years to one year.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Sidra Or Parasha?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Republican Sen. Kirk at Senate debate on pro-sanctions amendment.
Senate Warns Obama by 100-0 Vote for Pro-Sanctions Amendment
Latest Judaism Stories
Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Daf-Yomi-logo

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

Nothing beats some preparation to make it a memorable Seder!

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-sidra-or-parasha/2003/08/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: