The portion of Nasso is the longest single portion in the Torah (the combined portions of Matot-Masei, when they are read together, is longer). It continues listing the responsibilities of the various families of Levites which began in Bamidbar. From there, it elaborates on several laws, including those pertaining to a husband who suspects his wife of infidelity, and the Nazirite who wishes to commit himself more fiercely to holiness. Finally, the portion ends with the contributions of the tribal leaders to the Tabernacle’s dedication.
The Portion of Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20)
The portion of Bamidbar is the first in the book of Numbers, and opens it with a census. It has been a year since the people left Egypt, and the Tabernacle is entering its operational stage. The camp needs to be arranged around it.
The Portion of Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)
This week’s portion is the final one in the Book of Leviticus. It is often read in conjunction with the previous portion, Behar, and indeed, in 2015 they are read together outside of Israel.
The Portion of Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2)
Our portion this week deals with the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years as they pertain both to the land and the people. The Sabbatical occurs every seven years, with the Jubilee taking place after every seventh seven, or once in fifty years. During both the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, the Children of Israel may not work the land, but God promises they will never go hungry if they follow His statutes. Land that has been sold reverts to its previous owner, and Hebrew slaves are freed. Finally, God reminds the people that they must not serve idols. Rather, He says, they should keep his Sabbaths and revere His sanctuary.
The Portion of Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)
The portion of Emor continues many of the same themes found thus far in the book of Leviticus. It expands upon the laws of the priest which set him apart from the rest of the community, as well as those that apply only to the High Priest. It adds details regarding animals which may be brought for the service of God. It enumerates the holidays additional, non-sacrificial Temple rites. Finally, it ends with one of the few narrative passages of the book, telling the story of the blasphemer.
The Portion of Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1-20:27)
The portion of Kedoshim includes moral and ritual laws designed to increase the holiness of the nation, as well as punishments for many of the transgressions mentioned in Acharei Mot.
The Portion of Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30)
The portion of Acharei Mot picks up following the deaths of Aaron’s older sons, Nadab and Abihu. It contains the instructions for the Yom Kippur — or Day of Atonement — service in the Tabernacle, and forbids slaughtering animal offerings outside the Tabernacle and the consumption of blood. It lists a series of forbidden relationships and other abominations condemned by God, and emphasizes the holiness of the Land of Israel.
The Portion of Metzorah (Leviticus 14:1-15:33)
This week’s Torah portion describes the purification of a recovered metzora, or leper, by the priest through a specific procedure involving two birds, spring water stored in an earthen vessel, a piece of cedar wood, a scarlet thread, and a bundle of hyssop. Tzaraat, biblical leprosy, can also afflict a house, which is identified by dark red or green patches on its walls. The priest determines whether the house can be purified or if it must be destroyed, which can take up to nineteen days. The portion concludes by outlining the laws for someone who experiences an impure bodily discharge.
The Portion of Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59)
This week’s portion opens with the ritual laws of a woman who gives birth, but the bulk of the content discusses the identification, quarantine and purification of the metzorah, or leper. Unlike the medical affliction, Biblical tzaraat, or leprosy, can also affect clothing or buildings.
The Portion of Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)
This portion is a busy one. It details at length the special service Aaron and his four sons brought in the Tabernacle for the first time, following the seven day period of inauguration. It tells of the tragic demise of Aaron’s elder two sons, Nadab and Abihu, and what happens in the aftermath of their deaths. Finally, the portion closes with a lengthy explanation of the laws of permitted and forbidden animals for consumption, known as the Kosher laws.
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