Here I asked about the naming of parshat Noach and parshat Toldot.

Is there someplace where parsha-naming questions like this are addressed in general, or are answers to individual questions scattered throughout our sources? The simple rule I was taught of "first significant word" isn't all there is to it (hence that other question).

  • 2
    As far as I am aware, its completely based on what communities ended up calling them. Remember that in Israel they had over 160 parshiot.
    – avi
    Oct 29, 2011 at 18:58
  • @avi, 160+ parshiyot? How does that work? I thought only the 54 weekly parshiyot were named? Oct 30, 2011 at 2:21
  • 1
    See here: jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14508-triennial-cycle which will then allow you to see the sources directly.
    – avi
    Oct 30, 2011 at 19:59
  • In Israel, they were not called parshiyot, they were called sedarim. Feb 12, 2012 at 17:27
  • @Adam, thanks -- I knew they were sometimes called parshiyot and sometimes sedarim, but didn't know who did what. Feb 12, 2012 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often learn out something from the name of the Parsha. In this Sicha from Parshat Toldot, 1992 (quoted in Alex's answer to your other question), the Rebbe reiterates some of his guidelines about the Parsha name. (See the footnotes there for other places where the Rebbe discusses this)

  • The name that was chosen is usually at the beginning of the Torah Portion (either the first word or the first unique word). But Jewish custom has established the name, and "Minhag Yisroel Torah Hee". A Jewish Custom attains the level of Torah, and like Torah, it is incredibly exact.

  • There are Parshot where the first "eligible" word is not chosen (e.g. Noach and Toldot), which proves that the names given were not just the first convenient word.

  • A name in Lashon HaKodesh is not just a label, but also is an insight into the essential nature of the thing. (cf. Adam naming the animals). So too, the name of the Parsha is an insight into the Essence of the Parsha.

    • In footnote 10, the Rebbe points out the Shelah, who says that reading the names of the Parshot is considered as if one learned all the Parshot in depth.
  • If the accepted name of a Parsha has changed (e.g. Parshat Metzorah used to be called "Zot Tehiye" - see Likutei Sichot vol 7, page 103), this teaches us something as well.

  • There are probably other rules I can't think of right now.

Based on these rules, the Rebbe would often point out how the connection between the name of the Parsha and the content of the Parsha, and what we could learn from the name.

There are two sources (that I can think of right now) that collect all the Rebbe's lessons from the names of the Parshot.

  • 1
    Hate to be a nit picker, but none of that tells us the rules of what the name of the parsha is. It's just "rules" for what you are allowed to learn from parsha names...
    – avi
    Oct 29, 2011 at 18:45
  • @avi: I don't know if there are any rules per se, since the names of the portions are just customs that have evolved over time.
    – Menachem
    Oct 30, 2011 at 1:00
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    The Noach/Toldot distinction is interesting, because parshat Noach starts "eleh toldot noach", and Toldot starts "v'eleh toldot Yitzchak". (so "toldot" is not an eligible word in parshat Noach, but it is in parshat Toldot).
    – Chanoch
    Oct 30, 2011 at 23:56
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    @Chanoch: Can you elaborate why the "וְ" would make a difference? If you look in footnote 4 of hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15971&st=&pgnum=122, the Rebbe points out that the word Eileh isn't used as a name since it is only a preface to the next word, but it would stand to reason that that would apply to V'Eileh as well.
    – Menachem
    Oct 31, 2011 at 0:26

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