What is the earliest known reference to one of the 54 Torah portions by name? (Is it ever done in the Talmud, for instance?)

For reference, the 54 Torah portions are:

Bereshit Noach Lech Lecha Vayera Chayye Sarah Toldot Vayetze Vayishlach Vayeshev Miketz Vayigash Vayechi

Shemot Va'era Bo Beshallach Yitro Mishpatim Terumah Tetzaveh Ki Tisa Vayakhel Pekudei

Vayikra Tzav Shemini Tazria Metzora Acharei Mot Kedoshim Emor Behar Bechukkotai

Bamidbar Naso Behaalotecha Shlach Lecha Korach Chukat Balak Pinchas Matot Massei

Devarim Va'etchanan Ekev Re'eh Shoftim Ki Tetze Ki Tavo Nitzavim Vayelech Haazinu V'Zot HaBerachah

  • For reference Vayelekh isn't an official Torah portion. It's just a nickname for the second half of Nitzavim. Traditionally there are 53 divisions in the Babylonian annual cycle. – Double AA May 5 '19 at 21:05
  • @DoubleAA -- News to me. Nitzavim: 28 Sep 2019; Vayelech: 5 Oct 2019. They double up on non-leap years. 54 portions is what I have seen everywhere. – Maurice Mizrahi May 5 '19 at 21:11
  • Actually Parshat Nitzavim splits into two halves in years when RH is on Monday or Tuesday (not depending on leap year). Your local calendar might call the second half "Vayelekh" as a nickname if it wants. 53 is the traditional count. Learn something new every day! – Double AA May 5 '19 at 21:14
  • 1
    Duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/46142 – DonielF May 6 '19 at 0:03

See Megillah 30a for a reference to 2 specific parshiot - Ve'ata Tetzaveh and Ki Tissa.

The names of the parshiot frequently aren't exactly the same as we currently call them. But, clearly, the names of at least some of the parshiot were known at the time of the Talmud Bavli.

Bavli doesn't mention too many parsha names because there are very few rules regarding when specific parshiot need to be read. The page I linked to, seems to be one of the few references to having specific parshiot read by a specific time of the year.

| improve this answer | |

An argument could be made that it's Parshat אַחֲרֵי מוֹת mentioned in the Mishna in Megila 3:5 which states:

בְּפֶסַח קוֹרִין בְּפָרָשַׁת מוֹעֲדוֹת שֶׁל תּוֹרַת כֹּהֲנִים (ויקרא כב). בַּעֲצֶרֶת, שִׁבְעָה שָׁבֻעוֹת (דברים טז). בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ (ויקרא כג). בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים, אַחֲרֵי מוֹת (שם טז). בְּיוֹם טוֹב הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁל חָג קוֹרִין בְּפָרָשַׁת מוֹעֲדוֹת שֶׁבְּתוֹרַת כֹּהֲנִים (ויקרא כג), וּבִשְׁאָר כָּל יְמוֹת הֶחָג בְּקָרְבְּנוֹת הֶחָג (במדבר כט):‏

On [the first day of] Passover, the section in Leviticus relative to the festival must be read; on the feast of weeks, that commencing, "Seven weeks shall you count," (Deut. 16); on the feast of new year, the section commencing, "In the seventh month, on the first day of the month" (Num. 29:1); on the day of atonement, that of ‏ Acharei Mot (Lev. 16); on the first day of the feast of tabernacles, the section in Leviticus relative to the festivals must be read (Lev. 23) and on the other days of that festival, the offerings for each day (Num. 29:17).

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I don't see how such an argument could be made. In context that's referring to the "Parsha" not the "Sedra". Indeed we don't read all of Sedra Acharei Mot on Yom Kippur – Double AA May 7 '19 at 11:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .