web analytics
March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: The Four Parashiyot (Part I)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: I would like to know why there are four special readings of the Torah during the period between Purim and Pesach. Also, why do we call each of those four Shabbatot by a special name, such as Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zachor etc., which we don’t do otherwise?
Celia Gluck
(via e-mail)
ANSWER: The four readings you refer to actually take place from the Sabbath preceding the first of Adar until the Sabbath preceding the first of Nissan. This year the 29th of Shevat, Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim, was Shabbat Shekalim; Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh on the 13th of Adar was Shabbat Zachor; the 20th of Adar, Shabbat Parashat Ki Tissa, was Shabbat Parah; and the 27th of Adar, Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei, will be Shabbat HaChodesh. These, collectively, are referred to as the “Four Parashiyot.”In fact we have other Sabbaths referred to by special names, such as Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath after Tisha B’Av; Shabbat Shuva (also known as Shabbat Teshuva), between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur; Shabbat Shira, the name given to the Sabbath on which we read Parashat Beshalach (which this year was also Tu BiShevat); and Shabbat Hagadol, which
is always the Sabbath preceding Pesach.

On these Shabbatot we do not have any special extra Torah reading in addition to Parashat HaShavua, but their special names denote another significant factor that distinguishes them from a ‘regular’ week. For example, on Parashat Beshalach the week’s Torah portion includes Shirat Hayam, lit., the songs or praises at the [Red] Sea sung by Moses, Miriam, and the men and women of Israel; thus its special name. Likewise, the other Shabbatot we mentioned have some significant factor to denote their special status and name.

However, the Four Parashiyot are different in that they have special Torah readings, as you noted. We will now discuss why we have these special Torah readings at this particular time of year.

The Gaon R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin, zt”l, discusses this very matter in his work HaMoadim BaHalacha (Jerusalem, 1956, p. 188), stating as follows:

“The unique importance of these parashiyot is found in Rabbinic literature. Even before the parashiyot of the Torah were divided among the Shabbatot of the year, the requirement [to read] the Four Parashiyot was already noted [Megilla 29a, Mishna]. However, in both the Mishna and the Tosefta we find no mention of the names of the weekly parashiyot [nor the requirement to read Parashat HaShavua].

“The requirement to read the Torah every Shabbat (in a congregation of ten) actually dates back to the time of Moses” (Bava Kamma 82a).

[The Gemara (ibid.) enumerates the 10 enactments of the prophet Ezra; among them was the public reading of the Torah on Shabbat at Mincha, as well as on the following Monday and Thursday, a cycle repeated every week. The Gemara then questions whether this was an enactment of Ezra and proves that the enactment to read the Torah on Shabbat as well as on Monday and on Thursday, dates back to Moses' time, derived from the verse ("Vayasa moshe et yisrael miyam suf vayetz'u el midbar shur) vayelchu sheloshet yamim bamidbar velo matz'u mayim -- (Moses brought the Children of Israel from the Red Sea and they went out toward the Desert of Shur) and they traveled three days in the desert and they did not find water" (Exodus 15:22).

The Gemara cites another verse (Isaiah 55:1), "Hoy kol tzamei le'chu lemayim. . . -- Everyone who is thirsty, go for water." Water is used to refer to the Torah. Thus one cannot go three days without thirsting for Torah and therefore we have a Torah reading every third day of the week.

The Gemara solves the apparent inconsistency by explaining that Ezra's enactment was to upgrade from reading a total of three verses to reading 10 verses, and calling up three people -- a Kohen, a Levi, and a Yisrael, each reading a minimum of three verses of the Torah.]

R. Zevin continues, “But the dividing of the Torah reading into 54 [weekly] parashiyot [each read on a Shabbat] came at a much later time. We find (Megilla 29b) that the Bnei Ma’arava in Eretz Yisrael, as opposed to the Diaspora [the Bnei Bavel], used to conclude a Torah reading cycle every three years.”

The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 669:1) clearly states that on the second day of Shemini Atzeret, we in the Diaspora read in the first Torah scroll Vezot HaBeracha, the last parasha of the 54 in the Torah, until the conclusion. Then we read in the second scroll from Parashat Bereishit, the beginning of the Torah, until “Asher bara Elokim la’asot,” and in the third scroll we read the maftir, “Bayom hashemini atzeret,” as on the first day.

It is obvious that since the Gemara states that the Bnei Ma’arava would complete the Torah once every three years, we deduce that the Bnei Bavel (in the Diaspora) completed the Torah every year — even though the Gemara does not specifically say so. Thus, this Gemara serves as the source for the Mechaber and the Rema regarding that halacha.

To answer your second question first, we see that the division into parashiyot that we have today is inferred from this statement in the Gemara. The Four Parashiyot, however, and the time we read them, are clearly mentioned in the Mishna (Megilla 29a) by name. Therefore the Shabbatot on which one of them is read, as the Mishna delineates, are referred to by the parashiyot’s names.

(To be continued)

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: The Four Parashiyot (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015.
‘Alliance Between Israel & US Must Always Remain Above Politics’
Latest Judaism Stories
wine

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

Hur and Aharon holding up Moshe's hands as Joshua battled Amalek.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Esther Denouncing Haman

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

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)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

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

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)

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)

Vol. LXVI No. 6 5775   NYC Candle Lighting Time February 6, 2015 – 17 Shevat 5775 5:01 p.m. NYC E.S.T.   Sabbath Ends: 6:04 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Sabbath Ends: Rabbenu Tam 6:33 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Weekly Reading: Yisro Weekly Haftara: Bi’shenas Mos HaMelech (Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6 Ashkenazim; Isaiah 6:1-13 Sephardim) Daf Yomi: Kesuvos 4 […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-the-four-parashiyot-part-i/2004/04/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: