Click on the name of a book to see a summary of all its parashiyot or click on the name of a specific parasha to go directly to its individual summary.
Chart of all the books at a glance.
The Book of Genesis is concerned with beginnings: the creation of the world and the origin of humanity. It quickly shifts its focus from universal history to the history of the Jewish people beginning in chapter 12, with the introduction of Abraham, the first Jew. The remainder of the book focuses on the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, and Joseph. The book ends with the entire family of Jacob descending into Egypt. There are fifty chapters, divided into twelve parashiyot. The parashiyot in Breishit are: Breishit, Noah, Lech Lecha, VaYera, Chaye Sarah, Toldot, VaYetze, VaYishlach, VaYeshev, Miketz, VaYigash and VaYechi.
The Hebrew title 'Shmot' meaning names, comes from the first verse: "These are the names of the sons of Israel." The English name Exodus derived from the Greek meaning departure (like the word Exit) refers to the main event described in the book: the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. In the book of Exodus, we move from stories of individuals and families to the story of the Israelite nation. In Exodus, the Hebrews become a nation. The book of Exodus tells of the Israelites' enslavement, and subsequent deliverance with the 10 plagues. Moses leads the people out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea. They arrrive at Sinai, where they receive the 10 Commandments, and other rules. While Moses is on the mountain, the people build a Golden Calf. The remainder of the book describes the architectural details and the construction of a portable sanctuary, the Mishkan. The themes of slavery and subsequent redemption form the foundation for performance for numerous biblical laws. There are fifty chapters, divided into eleven parashiyot. The parashiyot of Shmot are: Shmot, Va'Era, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, Mishpatim, Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, VaYakhel, and Pekudei.
The Book of Leviticus, or Levites, is concerned with the ritual laws and the sacrificial cult. It describes the details of offering sacrifices. The book's emphasis is on purity and holiness. Even though the sacrificial system was abandoned with the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE, Leviticus continued to be an important influence on Jewish life: nearly half of the 613 commandments are found in it and much of the Talmud is based on it. In Europe, it was traditional for children beginning their Jewish learning to start with the book of Va-Yikra. There are twenty-seven chapters, divided into ten parashiyot. The parashiyot of Va-Yikra are: VaYikra, Tzav, Shemini, Tazria, Metzora, Achare Mot, Kedoshim, Emor, Behar, and Bechukotai.
Like the book of Leviticus, Numbers contains little 'narrative.' As its English name suggests, it contains several lists- each census of the Israelites. The Hebrew name comes from the first significant word(s): On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, in the wilderness of Sinai, (bemidbar Sinai)....The Israelites' journey through the desert concludes, and they get ready to enter the Promised land. There are thirty-six chapters, divided into ten parashiyot. The parashiyot of Be-Midbar are: Bemidbar, Naso, Be-haalotecha, Shlach Lecha, Korach, Chukat, Balak, Pinchas, Matot, and Masei.
In this final book of Torah, Moses reviews much of the history and the laws given to the Jewish people: hence the Greek name, (taken from phrase 'Mishneh Torah', Deut. 17:18) meaning second telling. In Deuteronomy, the belief that following God's rules will bring blessing; while spurning God will result in calamity is stressed. Idolatry and other false practices are continually denounced. Many scholars identify Deuteronomy with the book of Teaching found by Hilkiah the High Priest (during the reign of King Josiah- II Kings 22:8) during the reforms the king was instituting to strengthen Israel and its religion. There are thirty-four chapters, divided into eleven parashiyot. The parashiyot of Devarim are: Devarim, Va'Etchanan, Ekev, Re'eh, Shoftim, Ki Tetze, Ki Tavo, Nitzavim, VaYelech, Ha'azinu, and Zot HaBrachah.
|Genesis (Breishit)||Exodus (Shmot)||Leviticus (VaYikra)||Numbers (Bemidbar)||Deuteronomy (Devarim)|
|Toldot||Mishpatim||Achare Mot||Chukat||Ki Tetze|
We thank Rabbi Serge Lippe of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue for his support. He has made a donation in honour of his congregation for the use of our weekly Parasha summaries.