My question is twofold:

  1. When did we start reading a new parsha (torah portion) every week?
  2. Why did we start reading a new parsha (torah portion) every week?
  • 1
    I think the gemara says it was a Takanas Moshe rabbeinu. – Ariel K Dec 14 '11 at 17:50
  • @ArielK Interestingly, the gemara just says the neviim at the time enacted it. But the rambam (see my answer) says that this refers to moshe himself. – Double AA Dec 14 '11 at 17:56
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    @Naftali Are you asking why/when we started reading Torah every week or why/when we read everything in order so as to finish in some set amount of time? – Double AA Dec 14 '11 at 18:09
  • @DoubleAA well both, but mainly your 1st point. – Naftali aka Neal Dec 14 '11 at 18:20
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    @avi How do you get to 7? Didn't you read the same parsha every three years? – Double AA Dec 14 '11 at 19:55

According to the Rambam based on the Gemara in Bava Kamma 82a

רמב"ם הל' תפילה ונשיאת כפים יב:א

משה רבינו תיקן להם לישראל שיהו קורין בתורה ברבים בשבת ובשני ובחמישי בשחרית כדי שלא ישהו שלשה ימים בלא שמיעת תורה, ועזרא תיקן שיהו קורין כן במנחה בכל שבת משום יושבי קרנות, וגם הוא תיקן שיהו קורין בשני ובחמישי שלשה בני אדם ולא יקראו פחות מעשרה פסוקים.

Moshe enacted the Torah to be read on Mondays Thursdays and Shabbat, and Ezra added on Shabbat Mincha and further enacted that the readings be at least 10 verses comprised of at least three aliyahs.

The gemara there explains the reason. The verse in Exodus 15:22 says the Jews traveled 3 days without finding water. Chazal interpret water here to be referring to Torah. So, Moshe enacted the Torah to be read at most every 3 days to ensure the Jews never went 3 days without words of Torah.

  • 3
    But I don't think that really answers the question. The takkanah could have just implied that you have to read the same section each time, not a different parshah each week. – Alex Dec 14 '11 at 17:58
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    Seconding @Alex. We read torah every day (the sh'ma, at minimum); why doesn't that satisfy the "don't go three days" requirement? Why this particular solution? – Monica Cellio Dec 14 '11 at 19:25
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    Actually, @MonicaCellio, that would make an excellent followup question. (There is indeed an opinion in the Gemara (Menachos 99b) that reciting Shema twice a day is enough to fulfill the minimum obligation of daily Torah study.) – Alex Dec 14 '11 at 19:32
  • @Alex see Naftali's comment above. – Double AA Dec 14 '11 at 19:55
  • @Alex, done. – Monica Cellio Dec 14 '11 at 20:28

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