The Saturday morning and holiday readings are followed by a reading (Haftarah) from the Book of Prophets (Nevi'im). There are 54 weekly parashiyot (plural) or parshahs (anglicized pluralization) in Judaism, and the full cycle is read over the course of one Jewish year. Each Torah Portion consists of two to six chapters to be read during the week.
Each weekly Torah portion takes its name from the first distinctive word in the Hebrew text of the portion in question, often from the first verse. Dating back to the time of the Babylonian captivity (6th century BCE), public Torah reading mostly followed an annual cycle beginning and ending on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, with the divisions corresponding to the lunisolar Hebrew calendar, which contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years.
The origin of the first public Torah readings is found in the Book of Nehemiah, where Ezra the scribe writes about wanting to find a way to ensure the Israelites would not go astray again. This led to the creation of a weekly system to read the portions of the Torah at synagogue. The annual completion of the Torah readings on Simchat Torah, translating to "Rejoicing in the Law", is marked by Jewish communities around the world.
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