The Torah has Five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In order for Jews to read through the entire Torah one time each year, the text is broken up into 54 portions which are designed to be read at the weekly Shabbat service. (If there are only 52 weeks in the year, then why are there 54 portions? That’s a great question that we answer in this article.)
The Jewish calendar which follows the lunar cycle has 353-355 days in a regular year. So that gives us 50-51 Shabbats to read from the Torah. If a holiday falls on Shabbat, then there is a special Torah reading assigned. Therefore, that decreases the portions to about 48 or less in an ordinary year to read the 54 portions or parshiyot. In this case, we double up on the Torah readings. For instance, the readings that are paired together are:
- Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
In a Jewish leap year, there is an extra month of 30 days, so there is less doubling up on the Torah portions.
My twins Sara & Joshua’s B’nai Mitzvah date fell on a double portion - Tazria-Metzora. It was fortunate that Sara chanted from Tazria and Josh chanted from Metzora.
Your child’s Bar/Bat-Mitzvah date determines which Torah portion your child will read from at their service.