The division of the text of the Torah into psukim is delineated by trop (sof pasuk note), so I always thought that division is a tradition from Sinai.

On the other hand, the division into chapters seems non-Jewish in origin, I believe coming from the Christian medieval scholars who needed an easy numbering and reference system (there are a couple of related questions on this topic on this site, ai will bli neder try to link a few later).

My question is, what is the source for our division into weekly parshiyos?

The parshiyos themselves (not to be confused with the open and closed parshah breaks every few verses) depend on whether we cover the Torah on a 3-year cycle as was the custom in Israel at the time of the mishnah, or on a 1-year cycle, as we do now. So I assumed that the source must be late talmudic or early gaonic in origin, when the switch appears to have been made.

Do we have any sources for this?


1 Answer 1


The Aruch Hashulchan 282:2 (following the Magen Avraham there in the name of the Zohar) that says Moshe Rabbeinu made the parshiyos:

וכבר נתבאר בריש סימן קל"ה, דמשה רבינו תיקן לישראל לקרות כל סדרה וסדרה בשבת שלה, וחלילה להחליף סדרה זו באחרת. ויש בתורה נ"ד סדרות, ובזוהר בכל מקום אומר נ"ג, ונראה לי דכוונתו הוא על [השבתים] (השבתות) שבהם קורים הסדרות, לאפוקי 'וזאת הברכה' שאין לה שבת אלא היא מיוחדת ליום טוב האחרון של חג הסוכות, בארץ ישראל - בשמיני עצרת, ובחוץ לארץ - בשמחת תורה. אבל כל הג"ן סדרות הם מיוחדים רק לשבתות השנה

The Bach 685:1 says that Moshe made a general rule to read each week and Ezra Hasofer made the exact parshiyos:

לפי זה ודאי כל קריאה בשבתות מן התורה כפירש"י אלא שלא היה סדר מיוחד לכל קריאה מלבד פ' זכור ובא עזרא ותיקן הסדר לכל הקריאות

The Rambam and Rosh say that it is a minhag that evolved over generations. Indeed as you noted the Talmud already noted different places have different practices.

  • I don't see the Bach you quoted talking about parshiyos
    – Double AA
    Apr 1 at 11:52
  • Btw this judaism.stackexchange.com/a/108817/759 is the real reason for 53 not what he said about shabbat vs yom tov
    – Double AA
    Apr 1 at 11:53
  • The Bach is talking about the weekly parsha
    – Chatzkel
    Apr 1 at 12:34
  • Note the idea from the Zohar that Moshe established the breaks is already immediately questioned by the Magen Avraham there because of the triennial cycle. It's pretty clear that (like many things in the Zohar) we shouldn't take it literally, especially with so many rishonim saying explicitly otherwise.
    – Double AA
    Apr 1 at 12:59

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