Hebrew Root

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Torah Readings Introduction

by Michael Bugg

The Torah is the foundation of all Scripture and of all our belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and His Messiah.  Indeed, as we show elsewhere, one of Yeshua's titles is The Living Torah.  It is truly sad, therefore, that the study of these foundational books is so neglected among Christians.  Indeed, I recently read an article by a prominent apologist who I generally have great respect for in which he said that he told his students that they had his permission to skip studying the book of Leviticus!  It would be better for them if they skipped reading every last letter of Paul than these words which God Himself gave verbatim to Moshe.

Our purpose in these commentaries is ultimately to show our Sunday brothers and sisters just how important the Torah is--indeed, how every yod and tittle points to Yeshua our Messiah--by maintaining a weekly commentary.  We do not expect to complete this project all in one year; in fact, the commentary for the first year will largely be aimed at explaining the Torah's major themes rather than the minutiae.   We will add to the commentary of each weekly reading a little every year, digging deeper into the text on multiple levels.  We do not expect to ever run out of material before Yeshua returns on the clouds of the sky.

But first, a word on how the Torah is organized:  The Written Torah has long been divided into 54 Parahshahs, or Divisions, one for each week in a Jewish leap year.  In non-leap years, one reads two Parashahs together on certain weeks to keep the reading in synch with the year.  In a traditional synagogue, on each Sabbath, seven men are selected to read from the Torah aloud to the congregation in Hebrew.  The seventh man, who reads the concluding verses of the Torah goes on to read the Haftarah, or Concluding Portion, which is a reading from the Prophets which is thematically linked to the Torah portion.  Those reading may give a brief Midrash, or teaching, about what they have read.

The Torah and Haftarah readings for each week will follow the pattern of the synagogues.  In some cases, there are competing traditions as to the proper Haftarah reading; while we will note the Ashkenazi (European) reading, our commentary will follow the Sephardic (Spanish/Middle Eastern) tradition.

Selecting a proper B'rit Chadasha (Renewed Covenant) reading is somewhat more difficult, as there is no long-established tradition to follow.  David Stern has offered his suggestions for B'rit Chadashah readings in the Complete Jewish Bible; Hebrew4Christians has also given suggested readings.  In many cases, these readings are selected based purely on a quote from the Parashah being used in the Renewed Covenant Scriptures, whether or not the use of this quote matches the theme linking the Torah and Haftarah readings.  Our commentary will attempt instead to match that theme. 

It is hoped that this running commentary will be a source of inspiration for my Sunday brethren to dig deeper into the Torah than they have perhaps done before--and moreover, that it will bring glory to the Holy One, our Father.




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