[b-hebrew] annual and triennial reading of the Torah

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Jun 9 10:52:49 EDT 2006

As I said, the triennial reading is known to be an ancient custom of the 
Jews in the Land of Israel, and was not preserved in later Judaism. It is 
mentioned in several sources, but not much is known about it. The custom 
followed by all Jewish communities in the last 1,500 years or so is that of 
completing the Torah annually, in 54 weekly parshiyot (also known as sedarim 
or sedrot) of between about 50 and 120 verses. The first portion, Bereshit, 
including Gen. 1:1-6:8, is read on the Sabbath that follows the end of the 
Sukkot holiday, and the last, Vezot Haberakhah (Deut. 23:1-24:12) is read on 
the final day of Sukkot (this is in fact the only parashah that is read on a 
festival and not on a Sabbath - most major holidays have readings that are 
"outside" of the regular cycle) - followed by the reading of the first 
chapter of Genesis, just to "get into" the next cycle. (This day is 
celebrated as Simhat Torah, the rejoicing of the Torah).
In Judaism today, the weekly parshiyot cycle is so universal, that they are 
often used as dates - "on the Monday of parashat so and so.." The weekly 
portions are also often used as the basis for sermons or study sessions in 
the synagogue.

By analogy, I would have imagined that the triennial cycle worked the same 
way, but I'm not sure. I don't think that anyone does, though I could be 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "JAMES CHRISTIAN READ" <JCR128 at student.apu.ac.uk>
To: <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2006 10:38 AM
Subject: Re: Re: [b-hebrew] Psalms and Sedarim

> Thanks Yigal,
> that was extremely informative and interesting. May I
> ask you another question about the triennial reading
> of the Torah. Is there a particular time of year that
> people start the reading so that everyone reads the
> same seder in sync? I would like to give it a try and
> see what it's like.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> To: b-hebrew <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Fri, 09 Jun 2006 09:58:14 +0200
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Psalms and Sedarim
> Dear James,
> The sedarim are meand for daily reading, one seder a day. So the reader
> would go through the entire book in two months!
> The intrduction to the Koren Tanakh, while not dealing specifically with 
> the
> Psalms, does say the following: the division of the Torah into 154 sedarim
> follows the ancient custom of reading the Torah over a triannual cycle, 
> one
> seder for each Sabbath (the present custom is to divide the whole Torah 
> into
> 52 "parshiyot", one for each Sabbath of the year). Additionally, according
> to the Koren, the entire Tanakh is divided into 293 sedarim, which is the
> number of non-holydays in the solar year (that is, 365 minus 52 Sabbaths, 
> 7
> days of Passover, 1 of Shavuot, 2 of Rosh Hashanah, 1 Yom Kippur, 8 Sukkot
> and the 9th of Av). So, the division enables one to read through the 
> entire
> Tanakh in a year of "weekdays", leaving the holidays and Sabbaths for 
> their
> own assigned readings.
> Yigal
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "JAMES CHRISTIAN READ" <JCR128 at student.apu.ac.uk>
> To: <Brak at neo.rr.com>
> Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Friday, June 09, 2006 8:23 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Psalms and Sedarim
>> Even more confusing to me is how it would take anyone
>> almost 60 years (19 * 3) to read the book of psalms.
>> I mean, we are talking one slow reader here!
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